Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Puppet Master 4 (1993)

Okay, so THIS is obviously where the Puppet Master series starts to drop off in quality. I could tell from the very first scene, one that shows a demon talking to his minions about a need to retrieve the formula that was stolen by Toulon to imbue his puppets with life.

Gordon Currie plays Rick Myers, a young man who is currently working on a project that wants to create artificial life without the artificial part. It may be couched in science but the main quest is a standard Frankenstein one. He's joined one evening by his girlfriend, Susie (Chandra West), and two other unexpected guests, Cameron (Ash Adams, billed as Jason Adams) and Lauren (Teresa Hill). And, of course, a number of puppets turn up. They're not out to kill innocent people though. The puppets, still hearing advice from the spirit of Toulon (Guy Rolfe reprising the role), want to protect the people around them from the evil minion menace.

It took five people to write this movie, apparently. Five. That would be understandable if this new direction for the series was created thanks to some masterful writing that carefully gathered together everything we know from the previous three movies and then used the puppet creations in a new and exciting way. That isn't how things turn out, however, and the end result is disappointing, especially compared to the films that precede it. Although the continuity is far from the worst, things don't feel to connect properly to other instalments in the series, and any moments that feature the puppets engaging in a bit of violence are usually showing them fighting against the evil minion puppets.

This isn't the first rodeo for director Jeff Burr, who had already proven himself a solid helmer of horror movie sequels with Stepfather IILeatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, and Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, but his hands are tied by the weak script, which locks him in to a number of unfavourable choices. I don't know if the story continues immediately in the next film in the series, but I do know that it's Burr directing once again, and with a number of the same cast members.

When it comes to the cast, I must say that these are far from the worst people to be thrown into some Full Moon Features fare. Despite being given a weak script to work with, Currie does his best in the main role, and the leading ladies give good support. West is fine as the loved one put in danger and Hill works hard to avoid making it completely laughable when she has that oft-used Full Moon Features trope, canny psychic sensations. Adams also does okay, but he's playing the cocky, jealous member of the group, meaning you quickly take a dislike to him anyway, and Rolfe has minimal screentime as Toulon, using a specific puppet to project his visage upon when he has to provide some further exposition to the main characters in order to set up the finale.

I still found enough here to enjoy, despite the lack of decent moments for any of the puppets (and it's unbelievable how much of the soundtrack is composed of the weird chuckle that the six-armed gunslinger makes), but this was one to just get through on my way through the series. I am sure a number of instalments will feel that way, I just hope it doesn't end up being too many of them.


You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy a decent little set here.

Contents may differ from puppets shown on advertising materials. Torch NOT actually included.

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