Starring: Elizabeth Maclellan, Collin Bernsen, Steve Welles, Greb Webb
“No one escapes.” (Andre Toulon, Puppet Master II)
I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Puppet Master series, as you’ll already know if you read my review of the first film a while back.
This second outing for Full Moon Pictures’ wooden wonders offers more of the same, with stop-motion puppetry, supernatural skullduggery and sub-standard acting the order of the day.
The movie begins with our anti-heroes, still living at the Bodega Bay Inn, facing a dilemma. You see, the reason they’re alive in the first place is because their titular puppet master, Andre Toulon, developed a serum that could bring life to inanimate objects.
The problem is, the serum’s running out, and Andre Toulon pebble-dashed a wall with his brains in the ’40s when he shot himself to avoid capture by the Nazis, so if they can’t get any more serum soon they’ll be a bit fucked.
A plan is concocted – the puppets decide to dig up Toulon’s body, use their remaining serum to bring him back to life, and have him make more of the serum so they can all live longer.
There’s just one hitch – the serum requires human brain matter, and there isn’t any nearby. If only a group of people would suddenly turn up at the inn for some reason.
A few months after Toulon’s resurrection, a group of people suddenly turn up at the inn for some reason. The reason being that they’re parapsychologists who’ve decided to come to the inn to investigate a murder that previously took place there.
Before too long the obvious starts happening – the dolls start killing their new visitors, with the aim of stealing their brains and giving them to Toulon so he can create more serum and save their lives.
What they don’t realise though (until it’s too late) is that Toulon isn’t being entirely honest with his beloved wooden creations. He’s certainly going to make some serum, but it won’t be for the puppets.
Instead, Toulon has built two enormous (and terrifying) life-sized mannequin dolls, one of which he plans to transfer his soul into. The other will contain the soul of one of the parapsychologists – who looks like his ex-wife – and to hell with the puppets.
Can the puppets kill enough people to get more serum made? And what will they do when they discover they’ve been busting their balls just to get screwed over?
Puppet Master II is one of those rare sequels that manages to better its predecessor (albeit only ever so slightly). The first film was entertaining enough but its plot was lacking a certain something – people turned up, the puppets killed them and that was about it.
Now the story is improved with two main additions – an actual motive to explain why the puppets are killing people, and Toulon’s shock betrayal halfway in, which unexpectedly turns the puppets into the good guys.
Also welcomed is the introduction of a new puppet, Torch. Dressed a bit like a war general, Torch has two distinguishing features – a head shaped like a steel helmet and a ruddy big flamethrower instead a right arm.
The latter is used to break one of cinema’s long-running taboos, when a young boy, discovering Torch, tries to play with him. Putting Torch in the role of a prisoner, the boy whips him.
I’m sure you can imagine what happens next, but needless to say I have no doubt the smell of burning child was lingering around the Bodega Bay Inn for a while afterwards.
Puppet Master II is a worthy sequel to the original and has an ending that makes it suitable for a nice two-movie double-bill, before the series started getting a little out of control. Get on it.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
In the UK, Puppet Master II can be found on either DVD or Blu-Ray, both of which come complete with the original Full Moon Videozone making-of featurette that appeared after the film on the original VHS release.
In the US, it’s been released countless times but your best bet is to get it as part of either this Blu-ray collection of the first three films in the series, or this ridiculous 12-film DVD boxset which features nine Puppet Master films and three Killjoy films for five bucks.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: