Holy cow, friends, as a fanatic of horror I can say there are few films that have literally snatched my breath away but Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich most assuredly achieved that and more. First of all I want to say that you would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of Charles Band‘s Puppet Master franchise than myself. I vividly recall the evening I first saw 1989’s original Puppet Master on an HBO free weekend, long after my Father had gone to bed. When I got my first glimpse of fan-favorite Blade running through the hallways of the Bodega Bay Inn…I was hooked…I had become a fan of the ‘killer doll’ genre!
[Via] David O’Rorey
Believe it or not the first film in the Puppet Master series, of which there have been 12 films in total now, wasn’t the best. While the first film was popular thanks to it’s gruesome kills and the design and personality of the puppets themselves, it really began to pick up steam when the sequel came out in 1991. It was at that point a proper mythos started to take shape, a backstory that painted Andre Toulon, the original master of the puppets in a not so flattering light. Then later on in 1991 things got slightly retconned with Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge – a prequel film where it was revealed that the puppets were in fact a force of good, fighting against the Nazis!
[Via] Full Moon Features
I bring up all of this early history of the franchise to point out that the mythos for Puppet Master has been known to be rather fluid. The puppets have been quite often the heroes of the series to find themselves the threat again just as easily in the next picture. With the just released Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich we have not a reboot exactly, but an offshoot that the producers say takes places in a parallel universe, one in which Andre Toulon wasn’t an enemy of the Third Reich…but a twisted and deadly ally. Our new devious Puppet Master is in no longer a sympathetic character but an icon of evil, played with gusto by the legendary Udo Kier.
The plot for Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich in a nutshell concerns a young man named Edgar, played exceptionally by Thomas Lennon. Edgar, a comic book artist has gone through a divorce and momentarily has to take up residence in his parent’s home. It is there he uncovers a hidden ‘toy’ in the bedroom of his deceased younger brother – although Edgar doesn’t know it at that moment, he has just met Blade…and has fallen into the long gestating plot of Andre Toulon.
It just so happens that Andre Toulon was a known psychopath in this film universe. He was dispatched by two Police Officers in 1989 (Nice little nod to the original film, not the last one to be sure). Now 30 years later, Andre Toulon as well as his vast collection of bizarre puppets have become infamous – bringing big money from some collectors of Nazi paraphernalia. Which is how Edgar along with his girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) and his boss (Nelson Franklin) from the comic shop he works at…end up at an auction/convention with Blade…and an army of over 60 of Toulon’s creations. In the mix you have the talented Barbara Crampton playing the Police Officer who shot Andre dead 30 years earlier, now acting as a tour guide of the Toulon residence. Streets of Fire‘s Michael Pare is a noir inspired Police detective who is brought in to investigate the increasing murders at the convention. And last but certainly not least you have Skeeta Jenkins as the scene stealing bartender known as Cuddly Bear. Now with the convention in full swing it appears that Toulon’s littlest Reich is primed to take place!
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was co-directed by both Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, from a script by S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99). It is a lean and most definitely mean horror film, that finds itself sometimes a dizzying mash-up of exploitation film and Troma studios movie. The film brooks no sentimentality with it’s army of puppets, these are deadly creations that will carry out the agenda of their master…with no sympathy or hesitation to age, color, or religion. In fact there is a moment that occurs involving a pregnant woman, that I had to pause the movie and walk away for a few minutes…I was so shocked by what I saw. This is in no way a gentle film, the filmmakers however at no point make light of the agenda of the puppets. We flinch and worry about the main characters as they are threatened by attacks from Toulon’s hateful creations. We cringe as the hotel hosting the convention becomes a literal bloodbath. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is not going to be for everyone – not by a long shot – but it proudly embraces the horror of the puppets as well as the gore and violence they bring – what else would you expect from a film being presented by Fangoria?
Speaking of the puppets, while the characters of Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead, and Torch are present in this new Puppet Master franchise. In this universe it appears that Toulon created a vast number of them, so you might see multiple Blades in a shot but each is slightly different. In addition there are a whole slew of new puppets and I certainly hope that a special feature on the physical release will allow us to get to know each of them a little better. As a long time Puppet Master fan I was sad to see that my favorite puppet, Jester, wasn’t included in this particular film…or was he?
One other element of the film I want to shine a spotlight on is the music. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich features a sweeping score by Fabio Frizzi, an incredibly well known genre composer most notably known for working with Lucio Fulci (Zombi 2, The Beyond). If you would like to hear a soundtrack preview from Lakeshore Records you can click the link here – much like the trailer I can’t even share it on this site!
If you are a Puppet Master fan, I think you should really give Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich a shot.
Starting today the film is available by way of video on demand and in a very limited theater run. I picked up my copy of the film on iTunes but can see it’s available from the Microsoft Store too. If you are ready to see an over the top horror film that isn’t afraid to shock as well as entertain…then check out Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich today!