PUPPET MASTER 4
1994 Full Moon Entertainment
Reviewed by Panic_Attack
Rick Myers - A whiz kid who takes care of the hotel on Bodega Bay while researching artificial intelligence; he is scarily overzealous while playing laser tag with robots and puppets.
Susie - Rick's girlfriend. Is handy with the ol' acid bottle.
Cameron - An obnoxious, geeky college grad who either shouts obsceneties about his friends when angry or shrieks when being attacked by tiny, evil demons. Clawed to death.
Lauren - Cameron's psychic gal pal. I wouldn't want her around, though; the girl can't even defend herself from one itty-bitty Totem.
Dr. Baker and Dr. Piper - Two fodder doctors.
The Puppets - Blade, Pinhead, Six-Shooter, Jester, and Tunneler, and Decapitron. A far cry from how they've been portrayed beforehand, now they're kind and gentle(except to Totems).
The Totems - Controlled by extradimensional rubber demon, Sutek, they are a trio of ugly, puppet-sized demons. Drilled and electrocuted to death.
Puppets are bad in the kitchen.
Little demons explode real good when electrocuted.
Puppets are naturals at laser tag.
When being attacked by something less than two feet tall, the sensible course of action is to hide under a coffee table.
Never lock your girlfriend out of your car. Or if you do, thoroughly search it beforehand.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
It sounds like Darth Vader but has the hands of Khatadin.
Ah, a program that synthesizes a little boy playing with building blocks.
Why allow mysterious, ugly, and unmarked packages into a research building?
I wonder what Charles Band gets in return for his constant Quiet Riot promotion.
Pinhead: master of literal-mindedness(and pinching).
Wow, Lauren is a vitrioleuse.
Totem go BOOM!
Cameron: "I hate those guys."
Rick: "So this Toulon wasn't a Nazi. The Nazis were after him. They wanted to know how he animated his puppets. And he was afraid of what they'd do with the power."
Lauren: "Rick Myers, you must animate the Decapitron."
Andre Toulon: "I am with you, Puppet Master."
Rick Myers is a boy wonder in the position of caretaker at the old Bodega Bay hotel. Even though puppet-related shenanigans have gone on at the place before, nobody remembers and Rick is left in solitude with his two stupid robots, free to play laser tag, research his A.I. project, and complain about robot stupidity all he wants.
His superiors Dr. Baker and Dr. Piper are content in the boring position of watching robotic arms perform the most mundane of tasks and writing down artificial intelligence-related notes. That is, until a couple of Totems are FedExed direct from the underworld to bust some balls, and stop their evil master Sutek's secret of life from being discovered. They kill Baker and Piper.
Meanwhile, puppet Blade is the only one still active in the Bodega Bay Inn. He spends most of his time sitting around uselessly and waiting for Rick to rediscover his buddies in the trunk of Andre Toulon. Eventually Rick gets that point with a little help from his friends, loosens the sucker up with acid, and rediscovers the rest of the puppets.
Rick has a look at Toulon's diary and discovers the secret to waking puppets up, and he's more than happy to do so, injecting the whole lot of them with brain juice. They hit it off with Rick immediately, but don't take kindly to the much geekier-looking Cameron. I symphasize with him.
Suffering from a severe case of puppet envy, Cameron and Lauren use Toulon's Ouija board and inadvertantly pull the Totems that knocked off Baker and Piper out of it. The two are joined by another Totem sent to the hotel, and proceed to kill Cameron as he tries to make his getaway with Lauren. The Totems spend the rest of the film jumping on the humans and demonstrating their poor hand-to-tiny-hand combat skills, falling quickly to good ol' fashioned puppet might. A Totem still manages to frighten Lauren into submission, but is caught in the act of life force-stealing by Susie, who covers the little S.O.B. in acid.
This Totem is more powerful though, giving the puppets an excuse to wake up the incomplete, electrified Decapitron to zap him into oblivion.
The film ends with as much finality as the first two LOTR movies.
Is this film any good? Well, the villian, Sutek, looks like he was pulled straight out of the Power Rangers, which may mean something different to you than it did to me(I snorted in derision). Decapitron is sort of cool-looking, and ridiculously overpowered. You get to see the puppets in a few more action sequences, fighting enemies on their scale. Seeing Tunneler put a big hole in a Totem with appropriate sound effects is sort of fun, as is Six-Shooter staging an impromptu electrocution, cowboy-style.
Making the puppets the heroes seems like a shot at making them more marketable(and it probably is). Even though they weren't the bad guys in part III, they were morally ambiguous and did more exciting things, like shooting and bursting out of Nazis. The Totems are just not cool. They look like an awkward fusion between Red Pyramid and an armed, flightless bat. They don't create as much memorable carnage as the puppets do either, unless seeing a bunch of geeks get scratched to death is your thing.
The plot has a sci-fi bent this time around, and is so ambitious, not one movie can hold it. Yes, this is followed closely after by part 5. On a technical level, this is probably one of the best in the series. The little guys have never looked or sounded better. For a more interesting fusion of cheese and gore, however, you probably should have a look at the other installments.