Puppet Master 5
. 1994


Director: Jeff Burr

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Puppet Master 5 Because Puppet Master III (1991) was a prequel, Puppet Master 4: The Demon (1993; the subtitle is not often included however) is a sequel to the second film.

Andre Toulan was evil in the second film, whereas here he is restored to the kindly toymaker/puppeteer role, who nevertheless protects his beloved puppets & forgives them all their lapses into violence.

The group of psychics picked off in part one, & the group of paranormal investigators picked up in part two, become a group of young scientific researchers into robotics who get picked off in part four.

Plotwise it may sound like there's nothing new in that, but this time the evil killers are not the puppets. They are by now transformed into tiny superheroes rather than pint-sized psychopaths.

Puppet Master 5Blade is the first puppet to take a particular liking to one of the young scientists, Rick Meyers (Gordon Currie), who builds little robots & treats them like they're his buddies.

Puppets & Myers soon forge an alliance against a common enemy of incredible malicious power.

We encounter for the first time Totem, who is not one of Toulan's puppets.

Rather, he's a helmeted clawed energy-vampire created by the underworld demon-lord Sutekh, who regards the ability to create artificial life (or foot-tall artificial life at any rate) as a power that belongs solely to himself.

Puppet Master 4Totem matches the puppets for size & exceeds them for viciousness. He is sent "Upworld" to kill anyone & anything that horns in on Sutekh's powers. This includes the scientists working on a robotic Artificial Intelligance, & Andre Toulan's immortal living puppets.

Leech Woman is missing from the fourth & fifth films in the series, & Torch is missing from the present episode.

Instead, we are introduced to an entirely new puppet, Decapitron, a tiny leather-fetishist who has choices of heads, silvery metal head, or elaborate gunnery-head with television-eye.

Decapitron will return in the fifth film, then never again, except in the bogus "clips" film Puppet Master 7: The Legacy (2003).

Puppet Master 4Decapitron is given life Frankenstein-style by the combined efforts of Six-Shooter, Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead & Jester, so that the little electricity-shooting robot can join the heroic battle against terrifying Totem, which combines Wrestlemania with a few pyrotechnics.

Yeah I know, this is comicbook stuff through & through, but anyone already fond of Toulan's puppets will love to see them in all this fight-action.

By no means the equal of the first three films, it is nevertheless just as fast-paced & rather thrilling. We might wish it was also intelligent but hey you can't have everything.

Puppet Master 5Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994) would not be "Final" at all, as you can't keep a franchise down.

It follows time-wise the fourth film, but in too many ways is hardly more than a remake than a continuation. As in the fourth, the puppets are heroic rather than just a bunch of tiny killers. This diminishes them somewhat because they were more fascinating as evil things.

Better would have been to sustain a certain ambiguity with it being in their nature to kill, but whether they are good or evil shouldn't've been so clear cut. They're now just a bit trivialized as an army of weird little G. I. Joes fighting on the side of justice.

An even lousier budget than usual additionally reduces the film's interest. We get no new puppets, but Torch returns after having been missing from the previous film, & Decapitron is still around.

Puppet Master 5The main puppets each get their special scenes: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Six Shooter, & Tunneler, collect 'en all.

The repeat-villain whom the puppets must once again take down is Totem, resurrected for a rematch that is fairly devastating.

We also see a more of the demon-lord Sutekh reviving Totem in the underworld lair, which is nicely appointed thanks to imaginatively devilish set-design.

There's no Andre Toulan in the story & the puppets instead serve Rick Myers, a surviving scientist from the previous episode.

Meyers must now clear his name of the suspicion of murders while the puppets take on Totem.

Both "Totem" episodes were directed by Jeff Burr, whose unimpressive career in horror has been afflicted with sequelitis.

Puppet Master 5Thus he gets to ride the coattails directing a later-episode here & there for Pumpkinhead, Texas Chainsaw or even Stepfather,

But one of the rare occasion he attempts something original, it's the martial-arts-horror turd Devil's Den (2006).

Burr may well be the very definition of a hack, but in general, a reliable hack, so his Puppetmaster entries do entertain. The fall-off of quality for the series which his two entries only partially represent will thus get worse in episodes to follow without his hand at the helm. And the fifth film is the last time David W. Allen's better puppetry is used is in play.

To further cut corners, the sixth Puppet Master film will use rod-and-string puppets that didn't need as many people to make them move. Puppet Master 5 may not be a great film, but at least it provides one more chance to see the original puppets we came to know & love.

Continue to:
Puppet Master 6 (1998) & Puppet Master 7 (1998)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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