Puppet Master II
Review By: Gringo

The only reason I had the strength to sit through a single viewing of this movie is that I already have a headache. I didn't think it would get any worse. How wrong I was! Stupid old me should have remembered that you can always count on the story of some murderous puppets and their quest for brain juice to make you feel ten, or one hundred or even one hundred and one times more miserable. Whilst the first Puppet Master movie can almost be excused as a mistake, sticking to the same incomprehensible and mind-numbing formula for the sequel is simply just prolonged torture.

Remember where we left off? Yes, the little wooden demons had seen off their master and some people with big hair had talked a lot. Now it seems that the chunky guy out of American Graffiti who put in such a star turn in the first movie has gone mad. Not in real life, although after making a movie about puppet kill machines you have to wonder about his sanity. Anyway, the plot of this ludicrous sequel is that Chunky Guy (for that is his name now) went mad sometime after the events that saw several of his friends killed off. For no real reason - and with an overwhelming lack of good judgment - even more of his friends think it a good idea to go back...to the hotel of doom in Bodega Bay where the puppets did their thing!

This team of crack militant scientists set up some wacky machinery and expect to find out the mysteries behind Chunky Guy's descent into madness. Little do they know that in a very cliche pre-credits sequence the puppets raided Toulon's grave and now have his remains in their possession. Full Moon - who made this movie and indeed the rest of the mind-numbing series - introduce their classic trick of having people talk. A lot. It's a cheap way to pass the time, but also headache-inducing. So the scientists talk for a while. Yet again, they talk some more. They capture Tunneler and find that his little body is made up of crazy wires - even though they were just wooden puppets in the first movie. Sense! Instead of making a run for it, the team decide to stay in the hotel and investigate some more.

It seems that the puppets need some magical life-giving fluid to sustain their...um...lives. But they're running out, and if they don't get more then the Puppets aren't going to be able to make any atrocious sequels! Oh no! So they waste the last few drops of fluid (which is made from human brains) on Toulon's remains, bringing him back to life. He instructs his miniature murderers to collect some brains so he can make more fluid. Whilst Blade, Jester and the other puppets go off on another killing spree, the resurrected Toulon introduces himself to the scientists...AS THE INVISIBLE MAN.

The motley crew assembled at the hotel on Bodega Bay don't see anything freaky about someone dressed in bandages, and welcome him into the fold. Toulon gets the hots for Carolyn, one of the psychic scientist superheroes. In a flashback we learn that the brain juice derives from some ancient Egyptian spell - which was the cue for the storyline in Puppet Master movies four and five; so bad that tears will drop from your eyes and murder will spring to mind. Toulon decides to create two life-size puppets; one for him to transport in to (sure, a walking mannequin isn't going to turn heads, but someone dressed as the invisible man...) and one that looks like his dead wife. Not all bones and stuff, but how she looked before she died. Anyway, Toulon's plan is to transport Carolyn's spirit - via brain juice, of course - into the female puppet's body.

Continuity then decides to disappear for a while to introduce a brand new puppet. Even though Toulon shot himself in the face, apparently he found time to create a puppet called Torch. Torch looks and dresses like a Nazi soldier, but with a pointy metal face. Inexplicably, this particular puppet isn't a puppet - he's made completely of metal. Even more bizarrely, he's not featured in Puppet Master but is in the third movie, which is set in the time before Toulon died. What the hell? Still, Torch is the best of the puppets. His entire routine is as follows: step out of some bushes, smile at someone then shoot flames (torch, see?) at them. This is particularly amusing as he sees off an incredibly obnoxious little shit of a kid and a stupid yokel woman this way.

The rest of the movie writes itself: a few members of the team get whacked in the head and generally murderised by the puppets, although the Leech Woman (who kills people with leeches, nonetheless) is thrown on a fire and burnt to death. Of course, this makes her return in Puppet Master 4 all the more in line with common sense. Carolyn is kidnapped but is never transported into the female puppet's body. Why? Because Toulon decides to gather his puppets around, say that they're all useless and that the brain juice is all going to be used on turning him and Carolyn into walking wooden sex-toys. Presumably outraged, the puppets kill Toulon (again) whilst the kidnapped woman somehow escapes.

With the appalling movie drawing to a close, we get the most pointless scene so far. The female puppet has somehow come to life and bought a van, because it's so easy for walking puppets to enter into negotiations for vehicle purchase. In the back of the van are the still-living kill-toys, whilst everyone's favourite character Torch is sat next to Mrs. Puppet. She reveals her nefarious plan: they're going to a mental home to put on a show. And that's it. No, we don't ever to get see a movie where the puppets go to a mental home, and quite frankly I'm relieved they never made one. Imagine Full Moon trying to handle the mentally ill in a sensitive manner. Sensitive in the everyone- would-get-killed-by-puppets way. Puppet Master II bites. Hard. It's an atrocious presentation and far worse than the pile of crapola that was the original movie. The acting's dire, the script's useless, and there's no redeeming qualities. Other than seeing an obnoxious shit get burnt to a crisp.

Of course, they kept on making sequels and to break the trend Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge was actually okay. Not great. Not even good. But okay. I'm sure I'll want to have another headache soon, so count on a review of the fun that occurs in that movie. But do yourselves a favour and skip every other entry in the series. I'm not ready for pain lasting a month, so once again let me say that I'm going to avoid Retro Puppet Master - quite possibly one of the worst movies ever - for a long, long time to come. And by long, long time I do, of course, mean forever.

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