39- “Puppet Master 4” #52PickUp

Guys, I picked one of the worst Puppet Masters for this week’s #52PickUp, time is NOT kind to:

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That’s right, I watched Puppet Master 4. I remember loving this film because it was a new Puppet Master and this one and the fifth installment were filmed back to back.

The series has never been known for its quality, especially considering the inaugural Puppet Master was the only one released in theaters.

The series was actually a great run of B-movie territory… until Number Four. I found in hindsight that the majority of these films were quite bad, having re-watched them all last year. At times, I was thoroughly fueled by nostalgic joy, but mostly I was embarrassed for having watched these in the first place.

In this film, the puppets have been dormant for a few years; their master is long dead, but they reemerged at the Bodega Bay Inn when a young hotshot scientist, Rick Myers, comes there to work there in private. His research is on artificial intelligence with a focus on the mechanics, which coincidentally is what the puppets are all about: fluid animation via a formula developed by Ancient Egyptian sorcerers.

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Rick, always fucking things up.

Yeah. That’s quite a mouthful. It’s cheesy, but for the first three films when you follow the master (Andre Toulon himself), the films are much more enjoyable. I remember not liking the second Puppet Master though because it made the puppets do evil to innocent people due to Andre Toulon’s reanimated body desperately requiring brain matter from humans to make the formula (an element of which they never mentioned again).

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Better art too.

This film is largely death-free, being that only three people die, and those are at the hands of the puppet-sized personifications of a Demon’s followers in an attempt to reclaim the formula and kill all of those who know its secrets. I feel like I’m crazy by even trying to explain this film.

As a kid, my brother and I loved these movies. In fact, we bought the Video Market’s VHS copies when they went on sale and viewed then relentlessly. So much so in fact, that we caught continuity errors and kept a sheet of paper in each sleeve to write them down as we counted. Our lists grew exponentially by the later sequels, especially when we noticed that they recycled a lot of shots from older films.

I also remember having recently bought them and watching the third movie during my birthday party with the gratuitous soft-core sex scene and all… Whoops, sorry to spoil your innocence, friends.

Overall, I recommend the first three for some great cheesy, B-Movie fun. This one and the following sequels? You could pass on them.

Where/ when did I first see it?

As I mentioned, we first rented them from the Video Market in Fort Kent around 1995.

How does it hold up?

Again, this is bad. I never remembered the script and acting being worse than a daytime soap opera. It does not hold up. At all.

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Well, at least it was better than the ones that followed.

What did I like about it and why?

I liked the puppets, I guess. They all had their distinct personalities, even though they weren’t fleshed out very well. When they were on screen, at least I could ignore the lack of quality in other aspects.

The fights were fun… if they had put more time into them. They used the traditional stop-motion effects that Ray Harryhausen crafted decades prior, but the filmmakers could have made the motion more fluid.

Truthfully, there isn’t really much here but nostalgia.

Lessons Learned?

  1. They were never “bad” puppets.
  2. I should have been a script supervisor based on my continuity hunting.
  3. The fourth installment shouldn’t be a jumping off point.

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Where can you see it?

Check out Puppet Master 4 on CanIStream.It?

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)


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One thought on “39- “Puppet Master 4” #52PickUp

  1. Pingback: #52PickUp Retrospective | GuyOnAWire

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