All righty. Here we are with Part IV. I couldn’t remember if I saw this one until Gordon Currie’s character showed up. But even then I didn’t remember the big demon guy watching over everything. Which tells you something about him…despite the ridiculous rubber suit, he’s pretty forgettable.
Anyway, let’s get into it!
REMINDER: I may reveal spoilers since my editor is enjoying some much-needed down time at Coconut Pete’s Pleasure Island resort.
Puppet Master IV begins with a giant rubber suit…ed demon bitching to his wanna-be Phantasm minions (or maybe Jawas, who can tell?) about Toulon stealing their secret to immortality. So basically it’s up to them to kill everyone who’s come across the info or ever WILL come across it. He links his minions to three demon puppets, or Totems, that look like a cross between dinosaurs and humans, and sends them out into the human world.
Because those will blend in a hell of a lot more than glowing-eyed monk-robed midget demons, amirite?
Cue a government Think Tank where scientists are working on Artificial Intelligence with robots. While two in-house get too close for the demon’s comfort (insert Totems one and two), the boy-wonder of the group, Rick, sequesters himself in the Bodega Bay Inn where an inanimate Blade hangs out nearby. For now.
Even though Rick’s working, his gal Friday, Suzie, and another couple, Cameron the Douche and Lauren the Psychic, come hang out for the weekend. The third Totem is delivered and once that little bugger escapes, Blade jumps into action. Rick is surprisingly chill about the whole idea. Once he discovers the other puppets and reanimates them, his research can finally move forward! Oh, and yeah, maybe we should destroy these pesky little demons, too.
But now the big Demon is super pissed. All three evil puppets are loosed upon Bodega Bay and its inhabitants. Cue the spirit of Toulon, who Lauren channels, and he instructs them that the only way to defeat the beast is to animate the Decapitron puppet. Once that’s done, and the demon defeated, Toulon inhabits the new puppet to explain what the hell is going on and decrees Rick the new caretaker of the puppets. And they all lived happily ever after.
Until the next movie, I’m sure.
When I think of the later PM movies (you know, before there were 47 of them), this is the film I remember. I didn’t recall where it fell in the procession but because of Gordon Currie, it’s one of my favorites (many people don’t know him but he was so great in a vampire movie called Blood and Donuts…maybe I’ll review that later).
There’s a lot of cheese in this film, particularly with the rubber suited demon who actually has a name – Sutekh. He’s really a god (so why isn’t the film called Puppet Master IV: The God??) but believe me when I say he’s not scary at all. He’s kind of a joke as are his minions. The Totems are freakin’ cool but not their creator.
Half the characters are only there for fodder, which makes sense. And as annoying as Lauren is, with her passing out and whining and hand wringing all the fucking time, because of her the two previously released Totems transport to the Inn so they can join the third and gang up on all the good guys. I suppose she’s also useful because she channels Toulon at one point to help Rick and Suzie figure out how to get the Decapitron up and running. But otherwise I just wanted her to jump off the roof to her death in some kind of epic splatter where she’d end up a Rorschach bloodblotch on the driveway.
As usual, the puppets are the main attraction. I love them so fucking much! They are NOT the bad guys but a troupe of tiny little heroes that fight evil, even when that evil is Toulon, like in #3. It’s also fun to watch Rick as he discovers them and, via Toulon’s notebook, learns how to animate and learn from them. It’s the beginning of a beautiful new friendship…*le sigh*
We are also introduced to a new puppet, the Decapitron. This puppet is dressed like Toulon from the last film but has a featureless removable head. It needs to be activated with the serum AND electricity, which is its weapon of choice once it switches out its head to what looks like a old-fashioned diver’s helmet covered in electrodes. Epic Totem explosion, by the way.
Again the F/X are practical either using close-ups of the puppets (where you know the puppeteer is just out of frame with his/her hand up someone’s backside) or claymation style movement. The puppet rumble was awesome to behold. My fingers are crossed that they continue in this fashion for as long as possible!
Very fun film, very enjoyable. Worthy installment to the series.