Friday, 10 January 2014

Puppet Master III (1991)

I’m quite fond of Charles Band’s PUPPET MASTER series of films, or at least the three I’ve seen so far, not least because they’re probably the closest thing the 1990s had to the old Universal monster cycle. The actor playing the Andre Toulon, the puppet master himself, changes from film to film (William Hickey in the first, Steve Welles in the second and Guy Rolfe in the third) and, in part three, there’s a cheerful disregard for the continuity timeline of the first two films that’s on a par with the Universal MUMMY pictures. 
It’s 1941. Despite having shot himself in a hotel in Bodega Bay in 1939 in PUPPET MASTER I & II Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe) is alive and well and living in Berlin. That’s unlikely to last, however, if he continues with his satirical puppet shows that make fun of a cringing, simpering Adolf Hitler. Before we can ask ourselves if anyone would have been able to get away with that in mid-World War II Germany, much less whether an audience of chuckling adults and their smiling children would have risked torture and death to attend in the numbers shown here, Toulon is being paid a call on by Gestapo officer Richard Lynch (always
good value). It seems the Nazis are trying to discover the secret of reanimating dead tissue, and because Jeffrey Combs hasn’t been born yet the chap with the mysteriously moving puppets may have the answer. The Nazis kill Toulon’s wife (Sarah Douglas, top billed but with minimal screen time) and the puppet master escapes to end up hiding out in a bombed out building to plot his revenge. He is, of course, aided in his endeavours by the usual collection of dolls from the first two films, plus a cowboy with six arms who fires tiny bullets. Nevertheless these are capable of despatching General Mueller (Walter Gotell)  but not before he’s visited several young ladies at the local brothel, (including a post HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS Michelle Bauer in officer’s cap) allowing certain sophisticated members of the audience to get their fix of adult entertainment. Toulon creates the Leech Lady (see PUPPET MASTER) doll using his wife’s spirit and, at one point, explains the history of the other dolls.
PUPPET MASTER III isn’t quite as enjoyable as the first two in series, although it’s not through want of trying. Indeed, this is quite an ambitious picture, the reach of which ultimately exceeds its grasp. It’s rare to come across an early 90s exploitation picture where all the main characters are in their mid-forties or older, and the period setting makes for a pleasant change. The acting’s pretty good as well, thanks to some seasoned professionals getting a chance to have fun in some low budget silliness. For a part III TOULON’S REVENGE isn’t too bad, and if you liked the first two PUPPET MASTER movies this one’s worth a spin too.
88 Films’ presentation has the film in it original 1:1.85 aspect ratio. The extras are very similar to PUPPET MASTER II, with the same Charles Band introduction, the same toy adverts and the same batch of trashy trailers. There’s also a commentary track by director David Decoteau and screenwriter C Courtney Joyner and a Videozone making of featurette. Like 88 Films’ PUPPET MASTER II, this is actually a very nice presentation of a film that deserves it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment