Puppetmaster II Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by 88 Films
Directed by David Allen
Written by Charles Band, David Pabian and David Schmoeller (characters)
1991, Region B/2, 88 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 22nd October 2012
Elizabeth Maclellan as Carolyn Bramwell/Elsa
Collin Bernsen as Michael Kenney
Steve Welles as Andre Toulon
Greg Webb as Patrick Bramwell
Charlie Spradling as Wanda
Jeff Celentano as Lance
A group of parapsychologists convenes at the remote Bodega Bay Inn to investigate a curious death on the hotel grounds. There they find themselves picked off one by one by the Puppetmaster's collection of toys, including Pinhead (not that one), Tunneller and Leech Woman. If Puppetmaster II sounds like a direct redo of the first film, that's because it mostly is. But with ten sequels and counting, one can't blame the Full Moon team for pacing out the originality. There's only so much to go around, after all. And if it's good enough for Friday the 13th to tell the same story eleven or twelve times, we can hardly begrudge Puppetmaster II a little laziness.
The film opens with an introduction from Full Moon's head honcho himself, Charles Band. He pledges Blu-Ray re-releases of all of the Full Moon and Puppetmaster movies, whether we want them or not. While I'm not exactly dying to see Curse of the Puppetmaster or Puppetmaster X: Axis Rising, fair play to the guys at Full Moon. As long as they keep making them, I'll keep watching them (so long as there's nothing better on TV). And as far as unnecessary sequels go, Puppetmaster II is fun enough, anyhow. It's far better than the series' reputation suggests.
There are enough improvements in the plot and pacing department to make it an enjoyable experience – at times, even more so than its predecessor. The biggest improvement of all is the inclusion of Enriquee Chaneé, otherwise known as the reincarnated Andre Toulon. With his face wrapped in bandages and thick European accent, Toulon is a great character, reminiscent of Johan Krauss in Hellboy II (the only worthwhile thing Seth MacFarlane has ever done). His weird, eccentric presence is the shot in the arm the film needs – fun as it was, the previous movie suffered from its puppets being the only tangible threat – and prevents Puppetmaster II from being a complete repeat of the last film.
The puppet action is much of the same, although the models are a hoot to watch as they do their thing. As one character is trussed up and dragged away by the Puppetmaster's creepy little collection of toys, I was put in mind of that one scene in Small Soldiers in which Kirsten Dunst is grabbed and held hostage by Tommy Lee Jones and his army of Barbie Dolls. Adequate as accomplished special effects master Dave Allen's direction is, one can't help but wonder what a director like Joe Dante could have done for the project. It's a shame that master of horror Stuart Gordon only made one Psycho Toys movie (Dolls, another Full Moon production) as the Puppetmaster series could desperately use an auteur at times.
But 'shoulda woulda coulda', as they say, 'are the last words of a fool.' Puppetmaster II makes the most of what it does have, which is a great location, spooky cinematography and some wonderfully designed toys. The ending is much improved too, with a creepy Tourist Trap style endgame and cute final shock before the end credits roll.
Puppetmaster II is budget Full Moon at its best: silly, camp and occasionally quite creepy, it's a lot of fun. The Puppetmaster films will never be true horror classics, but they're always enjoyable. At a loss for something better to do, or watch? The first few Puppetmaster films are perfect popcorn entertainment.
Video and Audio:
It looks and sounds fantastic – far better than you'd imagine a low-budget Full Moon movie could ever be. Charles Band is right to be proud. 88 Films and Full Moon have done an outstanding job with these transfers.
There are two toy commercials that I would have bloody loved if I'd seen them when I were twelve. There's also a Making of Puppetmaster II featurette, trailers, and Charles Band's introduction to the film. I hope you like these special features, since you'll be seeing them all over again in Puppetmaster III...