They’re back! The 12th movie in the Puppet Master franchise was written by S. Craig Zahler and directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund. The 13th if you include the non-cannon crossover with Demonic Toys.
By the title, long-term fans can presume that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich continues the ‘Axis’ story of the last three films. Strange though as those three were specifically supposed to just be a trilogy…
Wait…it’s a reboot!?
Yes, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a reboot of the long-running franchise. Something that I initially saw with some disdain. However, after witnessing the shocking bloodbath that is this movie, I can happily say I am totally on board with this new direction.
The franchise up to this point has been seriously hit and miss. You can read our definitive ranking of the series so far right here where you can also find individual links for each film’s review. It’s a series that needed a reboot. However, dolls that kill isn’t quite the clever idea it once was.
Thankfully, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich knows this so chooses to focus viewers’ attention on something else. Absolute lashings of gore. Seriously, the level of blood and guts that is strewn throughout this movie is startling.
Thomas Lennon stars as Edgar, a recently divorced man forced to move back in with his parents. While looking through his brother’s (deceased) old room he finds a puppet. this movies version of Blade. It seems like it might be worth some money so he decides to sell it a convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Toulon Murders.
Regular watchers of the series will recognise that name. Andre Toulon, the original puppet master. Whereas the series mostly painted him as good guy (a Holocaust survivor), this film tells us that he was a Holocaust perpetrator who hid behind the charade of a puppet show.
This fact is important as it’s the reason why the convention sees those who come bringing their own dolls. That night, in the hotel the dolls all animate and go on a bloody killing spree. Their targets making it clear that the puppets are mini-Nazis.
Hold on to your lunch, things are going to get nasty.
The story is decent and paced well, letting us get to know characters and even having some amusing moments. This is needed because once the killing starts, The Littlest Reich becomes very, very serious. Perhaps too much as certain deaths are really uncomfortable to watch.
We keep coming back to the gore because it’s really amazing just how far this movie pushes the limits. We’re not talking a handful of violent deaths, we’re talking loads and loads all in bright, gory fashion. This is sure to put many people off, maybe even offend but personally I loved it and give massive credit to the effects. Most of the time.
There are a few bad moments. Such as this film’s version of Torch, setting fire to a Jewish couple and they are clearly just dummies.
Credit is also deserved for how it pays homage to the original. The main puppets aren’t the same as the original but look close enough for knowing winks and nudges. They’re animated really well too and rarely look fake.
As a new direction for the franchise…I’m on board. It’s not perfect but when you look at the state of the franchise to this point this is an interesting direction to go in. It ends with a ‘to be continued’ graphic so it certainly looks like we’re going to be getting more Puppet Master in the future!
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
The Final Score - 8/10