Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the Most Fun You'll Have in Horror This Year
The gore flows freely from these murderous puppets.
By M.T. Bates
The Puppet Master series is a weird one in which it is a little hard to keep track of what is canon anymore, but from what it seems like, Puppet Master: the Littlest Reich is intended to be a reboot for the franchise, and it’s a hell of a way to start a fresh timeline.
As a long-time fan of the series and Full Moon movies in general, the excitement for the announcement and first teaser poster was immediate and this film did not disappoint. It is by no means a perfect film, or an entirely coherent one, but the areas it excels in quickly wipe away its shortcomings, and it does excel in many areas. At the top of that list is the soundtrack.
The legendary Fabio Frizzi scored this movie to absolute perfection. The main theme is a pure '80s masterpiece in a way that only Frizzi could compose; the melody is soft but also foreboding. The shifting tones in the main theme are just so pleasing to the ear that you don’t want it to stop. Blade’s theme is another stand-out track that manages to remain soft, yet with sharp notes that play so well with the rest of the song. Perhaps not as iconic as some of the scores he did for the Fulci films, but this soundtrack stands on its own and is a must-own for any fan of the composer.
When you finally get over how great the soundtrack is, you can actually begin enjoying the film, which starts off fast before the title scene shows up (along with the main theme!). It tells the story of Andre Toulon in drawings and might be one of the most well-done title sequences for a recent film. The drawings are touched upon in a bit more detail a little later on in the movie but they are pretty self explanatory nonetheless.
For those familiar with previous entries of the series, you might recall Andre Toulon not being a villain, but rather someone who is against the Third Reich. That is not the case at all here as Andre has gone full Nazi in this timeline. He uses knowledge of the occult to control his little creations and then some.
From the start of the movie to after the title scene, there is a 30-year jump which introduces us to our main character Edgar, played by Thomas Lennon. It's strange to see him in a film like this but he was still a welcome addition. Edgar is a rather calm and collected guy for someone who just got divorced, and his demeanor rarely falters throughout the film, even when the puppet mayhem begins.
The supporting cast includes Charlene Yi, Udo Kier, and the iconic Barbara Crampton to round off a stellar roster in which each adds their own element to the insanity. This movie is chock-full of camp and the cast overall embraces it, but between Lennon’s straight man portrayal and the soundtrack, it somehow miraculously keeps the film from feeling too “out there,” because the kills and the gore in this movie are something. Using practical effects in movies today is something to be treasured, and while the effects in some scenes are so blatantly obvious, the debauchery and lewdness elsewhere truly make up for it. Once the carnage starts flowing, it does not stop.
It would be a huge oversight not to mention Skeeta Jenkins's character Cuddly Bear, who is a quip-filled, smooth-talking bartender who likes to refer to himself in the third person. After expecting more from this character, he never really delivered but he does have some great scenes regardless. However, there is something that his character and nearly every other one in the movie possesses: a total lack of urgency and seriousness.
While people around them are being dispatched by murderous Nazi puppets, they all stayed weirdly calm and collected for the most part, especially within the main group of characters. It was the only off-putting thing about the movie aside from one death, which was still good in a schlock kind of way.
The bulk of the film naturally involves puppet carnage and all of your favorites are present, including Blade, Pinhead, Tunneler, and Kaiser. No Six Shooter or Leech Woman, which was a little upsetting, but some of new designs made up for that (including a baby Hitler). These aren’t your 1980’s puppets, either. They are fast and brutal, and will leave you in pieces when they are done. The body count is pretty high and the gore levels are off the charts. This is a perfect Friday or Saturday night movie to watch with friends, beer, and some pizza.
The ending was strange and it's hard to be sure if it was enjoyable or not. It did, however, leave an opening for a sequel which is totally fine at this point.
The soundtrack is insane, the kills and gore are bonkers, the body count is high, and the cast is awesome.
None of the characters seem overly eager or intrigued by the fact they are being hunted down by murderous Nazi puppets. The film also has an odd ending.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich serves up some of the best gore you will see all year while names you will recognize take center stage the entire film. Combine that with the Frizzi score and a movie that doesn’t care about being politically correct, pulling no punches, and you have what might be the most fun you’ll have watching a horror in 2018. It's not necessary to watch the previous Puppet Master films to enjoy this entry, so don’t let that stop you from picking this one up.