There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
Today we continue our journey into the Full Moon Video franchise Puppet Master with Puppet Master II.
Today’s Key Movie:
A group of paranormal investigators visit the hotel where the first film took place in order to determine what drove Alex Wittaker insane. There they find that the Puppets have resurrected their master Andre Toulon and he has plans for his new visitors. Starring Steve Welles, Elizabeth Maclellan, Colin Bernsen, Gregory Webb, Charlie Spadling, Jeff Weston and Nita Talbot, this is Puppet Master II.
Why this movie?
After the experience that was Puppet Master, I was thrilled when a sequel arrived in the video stores. You can bet that the moment this appeared on the shelves, it found its way home with us so that we could discover what the diminutive devils would do next.
Puppet Master II takes the story to a darker place establishing that Andre Toulon was not the kindhearted man we thought he was in the first film, instead, Toulon is portrayed as a vengeful mad scientist who, after being brought back to life by his puppets, is determined to bring his beloved Elsa back to life using Paranormal Investigator Carolyn Bramwell (who happens to look like Elsa) as her host. Using his army of miniature maniacs, the undead Toulon goes on a murder spree to collect ‘human parts’ for his magical death cheating formula.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
Almost immediately it is clear that this film had a bigger budget than the last (nearly double in fact) as the increased quality of the production is noticeable. Although, thankfully, the special effects are still practical, the production team makes good use of their budget increasing the appearances of the Puppets and even adding a new Puppet in the form of Torch, the Death-headed flame-throwing micro menace.
Once again, the producers of the Puppet Master franchise wisely choose to stick with practical effects using puppetry, stop motion and forced perspective to bring their Mirco-murders to life. It really is a testament to the determination of producer Charles Band to create something that combined Direct-to-Video budgets with the feel of a cinematic release. Band somehow managed to not only ensure that the special effects were on point but, working with Director Dave Allen (who was involved in one of my favorite films Young Sherlock Holmes), ensured that the cast was stellar as well.
While the entire cast is rather fantastic, I was particularly impressed with Steve Welles who portrayed Andre Toulon in this feature. Channeling his best Lon Cheney, Welles dove into his role coming across as a combination Victor Frankenstein and Invisible Man. His movements and precise line delivery creates a genuinely disturbing mummy-like Toulon who works with his miniature minions to find a way to give himself eternal life. As I mentioned earlier, Welles portrayal of Toulon is not the kindly old man that we saw in the first film, and while this is not explained, you get the sense that his resurrection at the hands of his horde had something to do with it.
Puppet Master II plays closer to it’s B-Horror origins than the original giving it a rather campy ‘Hammer’ feel than the previous instalment. This isn’t a bad thing though as it allows the film to dive deeply into it’s own mythos without concern if it slips into its campy B-horror roots. While the ending is rather strange, Amazingly, even with those guardrails removed, Puppet Master II manages to provide a rather cool insane story that treads across the thin line of camp without ever completely crossing over.
OK, where do I get this movie?
As with the last film you can watch this one via the Full Moon channel on Amazon Prime or pick up a copy direct from Full Moon Video here. Either way, it’s well worth it.
I look forward to next week when we tackle the third installment in the Puppet Master franchise, Puppet Master III Toulon’s Revenge. Until then,
Late To The Game 8/19/2021
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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