Peter Hertz, who was rescued from the Nazis as a child by Andre Toulon in the 1940's, is now an old man and has inherited the puppets. He is pursued by an assassin who forces him to tell her the entire history of Toulon and the puppets.
In PUPPET MASTER XI - AXIS TERMINATION, the final chapter of the AXIS Saga, we find our heroic band of lethal puppets-BLADE, PINHEAD, TUNNELER, JESTER, SIX SHOOTER, and LEECH WOMAN, joining... See full summary »
Kevin Scott Allen
A young scientist working on an artificial intelligence project is the target of strange gremlin-like creatures, who are out to kill him and thus terminate his research. By coincidence, in one of the rooms he uses, there's a mysterious case containing the puppets of the "puppet master". When the puppets are brought to life, they help destroy the creatures.Written by
80's Horror meets 90's Cheese in "Puppet Master 4"- a fun but very uneven entry in the series.
If there's one thing to be said for Charles Band's long-running horror- franchise "Puppet Master", it's that it is a franchise that has proved to have a high degree of staying power, lasting near three decades thus far and with no signs of slowing down. Even now, there's talk of not only another sequel to the original franchise, but even a full- fledged theatrical reboot to the sometimes beloved series.
Of course, the series has needed to change with the times to remain culturally relevant, and in no place is that more apparent than in 1993's "Puppet Master 4." (Also known as "Puppet Master 4: The Demon.) It's an entry to symbolizes a lot of change for the overall story, both in subverting expectations and also finally taking the steps to update and modernize the overall franchise by injecting it with that grand old 90's cheese that so many now nostalgically look back on with a big grin.
It's also the first entry in the series to toy with the idea of the killer puppets being full-blown "heroes" in their own film. Whereas they typically had been previously portrayed as villainous and murderous (or at best as anti-heroes out for revenge at the call of their master as was the case in the third film), here they are finally at the hands of a decent master with no dark or selfish motivations who is merely seeking to survive and uses the puppets for good. It's a nice, refreshing change of pace... especially as it fulfills the typical audience desire to see the "villains" win (at least a little bit) without making us directly route for them to do terrible things.
We follow Rick Myers, a caretaker at the Bodega Bay Inn who also happens to be working in a research project to create artificial intelligence. (90's Alert! Techno babble and bad 90's computer programming scenes imminent!) However, as the project is getting dangerously close to discovering the secret to life that had previously been found by the Puppet Master Andre Toulon, the demon lord Sutekh sends a group of evil diminutive "totems" to kill all involved. Once Rick and his friends discover Toulon's puppets, they are forced to bring them to life to battle this new threat! And they will also finally have to animate Toulon's hidden incomplete masterpiece of a puppet "Decapitron" in order to survive...
Part of the fun of this entry is the subversion in finally making the puppets the good-guys, thus allowing a sort-of full-on "war" between two miniature factions. It supplies for a lot of fun moments and creative sequences. Our cast of human characters are also reasonably good leads for a low-budget horror feature, and you care just enough about them to keep you invested in the human drama. (Even if there are some clichés that will make you groan, like the "hot chick in glasses" scientist. Ugh.) There's also a lot of fun to be had looking back on it in that nostalgic "time capsule" way. This is very much the product of its time, with cheesy 90's style, cheesy 90's dialog and cheesy 90's effects running rampant. It's quite charming as a result, especially for those who grew up in that decade.
That being said, this is a very uneven film and it does suffer quite a bit for its faults. Many aspects of the story are dated to the point of going beyond the nostalgic charm. The pacing is all out of whack. Certain major elements seem out of left field. And it all does feel just a bit silly, even for a "Puppet Master" sequel.
Still, there's plenty of fun to be had. The series was never anything more than trashy, goofy B-movies with some blood and boobs and creepy puppets... And you certainly get that here for the most part.
So I'm giving it a middle-of-the-road 6 out of 10. If you're a series fan, a Charles Band fan, or just a B-movie fanatic like me, you'll get your money's worth.
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