Friday, 27 December 2013
Puppet Master 4 (1993)
The fourth entry in the Puppet Master series returns us to the current day. Well, then-current 1993, anyway. It introduces the demon Sutekh, whose magic elixir is the source of the puppets' life. Sutekh guards this elixir jealously. He hates that Andre Toulon managed to learn it, and wants to prevent anyone else from doing so. Which is why he dispatches three of his gremlin-like 'Totems' to murder a trio of researchers who are getting close to the secrets of AI. I really like the design of these Totems, I must say.
Two of the researchers go down easy, but unfortunately for Sutekh, the third has Blade (and ultimately, the other puppets) watching out for him. Said third researcher - Rick - is the real wunderkind of the trio, and also frankly a bit of a douche. I don't think you're supposed to think that of him, but it's really kind of true. Only the fact that he's been unexpectedly saddled with visitors, one of whom is an even bigger ass than he is, saves him from all my scorn. Rick was expecting a quiet night with his girlfriend, but she brought 'friends' with her. Later, she'll make snide remarks about Rick being more interested in his work than in her, but it seems to me like they kind of deserve each other, given that she invites other people to their dates.
Anyway, the four human characters uncover Toulon's box of puppets in the attic, thanks to the psychic hunches of one of the unexpected guests. They reanimate the puppets, who had fallen dormant over time. I'm not sure why this would have happened, given that at the end of the second movie the puppets had enough elixir for 'fifty years', but continuity is not a strong point of the series.
Naturally, the three Totems turn up shortly after the puppets get on the scene, which leads to the best part of this movie: puppet on Totem action. The puppets handily deal with the first Totem (albeit with a three to one numerical advantage), but the spirit of Andre Toulon then contacts them and warns that to achieve ultimate victory, it is time to active Decapitron.
With so much of the focus of this film being on the battles between the puppets and the Totems as well as the long, long process required to activate (snerk) Decapitron, this film features less graphic violence than the earlier entries. This makes the 'kill count' feel very light, even though it's not actually far short of that of the first film. I'd even go so far as to say that it changes the tone of the series again: the first two films were comedy-horror, the third was a revenge fantasy, and this is a sort of supernatural action flick. I enjoyed it, and I like the way that the series keeps changing things up, but this is definitely not going to be to all tastes.
Oh, and Decapitron? Is even goofier than his name suggests. But I won't spoil the surprise. For that, you'll have to see it.