Puppet Master IV
Review By: Gringo

Useless information is how I will begin this review! Officially, this movie is billed as Puppet Master 4, using a regular old number four. However, because every other entry in the demonic puppet series uses Roman numerals, I'm going to give the makers of this movie - Full Moon Pictures, you are guilty! - a literary punch in the face and write it as Puppet Master IV. Literary punch...you get it? Like literally, but literary...to do with writing...I'm writing a review? Oh, shut up. Anyway, now that that useless piece of information has handily filled up half of the word quota needed for this paragraph, I can continue with a proper introduction. I don't want to get all snotty and pompous and act like "Ooh, I review this series and my reviews are world-renowned!" but I don't want to repeat a lot of what I've already written about the Puppet Master series. Essentially, all you need to know is that there are a group of evil puppets, brought to life by puppet master Andre Toulon. Despite being murderous beasts in the first two movies (set in the present day), they went all nice and democracy-loving for the third movie (set during World War II, and yes, the puppets kill some Nazis). To learn more, read this, this and finally this before continuing. If you want to.

We're back in the present day for the fourth installment in the inch-high kill-beast extravaganza. Now, remember how the puppets were evil in the first two movies? And that they were sat after their do-gooder turn in Toulon's Revenge? Well, apparently the puppets keep on getting schizophrenic about whether their personality switches are set to 'Evil' or 'Nice', because in this movie they're the underdogs and we're meant to be on their side. Bizarre. This movie finds us in the comfortable surroundings of 1991, a time when MC Hammer was both a running joke and a nationally syndicated cartoon show, when Ghostbusters II was still considered cutting-edge in special effects and when George Bush, Snr. was still in the White House. It wouldn't last for long though! Ha! From what I could work out (and I spent most of the movie sat with a glazed look on my face due to not understanding a great deal...that, and my own inherent stupidity) two firms were interested in bringing things to life, much like, say, puppets! Dr. Piper and Dr. Baker worked for two rival industrial firms, and they pretty much ended up dead. Some badly stop-motion-animated demon called Sutek sends little murderous alien beasts to Earth to kill the two doctors, trying to protect the secret of giving life to inanimate objects.

The fun! When will it ever end?! Certainly not soon. The movie then decides it's about time we checked up on the Bodega Bay hotel. Bear in mind this place has seen almost ten people die within its grounds, murdered by Toulon's puppets. Not to mention the fact that for a while it was inhabited by a man with tissue paper wrapped around his head (if you don't get that, don't ask, it's better for your sanity). For some reason, the police let this weird-ass building stay open, and now it's got a caretaker in the form of Rick, a bright, up-and-coming young buck of a lad whose movie career was destined to go nowhere fast after starring in Puppet Master IV. He was even in the sequel (more on that later), the fifth and supposed 'final chapter' in the saga. Of course, we all know the series doesn't end there, but I'll save bitching about that for my review of the fifth adventure with the wooden puppets and their wacky crew of friends and enemies. Anyway, Blade - the puppet with a, uh, blade for a hand - is still running about somehow, totally destroying the concept in the second movie that the puppets would die unless someone was on hand to keep them alive with brain juice. Destroying that concept is a good thing, because that movie sucked ass. Inordinate amounts of ass.

Back to the story, and back to the misery. Rick and his soulless, bad-acting friends all get together at the Bodega Bay hotel and - oh my! - he just happens to be studying means of creating artificial life. Puppets that come to life...scientists at shady corporations looking in to giving life to inanimate objects...it all falls into place! Except it doesn't, because a heavy-handed script filled with lame dialogue and minimal characterisation means any sense of an understandable movie is thrown out the window. THROWN AWAY! Anyway, Rick - a young, blond-haired, gormless type of guy - and his faceless friends turn up and something convoluted happens. I don't really remember because I stopped paying real attention after five or ten minutes. It doesn't take long for the happy group of clowns to find Blade, and rather than run in horror, they're bemused by the wacky creation and end up finding all the other puppets, conveniently stashed away with a diary by the original puppet master, Andre Toulon. In an insane twist, the brain juice plot comes back, as Rick injects the puppets with his secret liquid (sorry, that's the last time I'll use childish innuendo I'll use in this review) and they all come back to life. He tests them, trains them up and it looks like everyone will live happily ever after...but not for long! Another demon - like the one that killed the two doctors - turns up at the hotel. Hopefully he will kill everyone!

One of the girls hanging out at the Bay (my apologies for writing that) tries to contact Toulon from beyond the grave, but instead is taken over by Sutek and the promise of death for all is made. Fingers crossed! For a while it looks good; one of Rick's friends is killed by a mini-demon - but then things go horribly wrong, when Toulon warns the puppets of the impending doom. Soon after Tunneler (a puppet who can, uh, tunnel his way through things) ends up killing one of the members of Sutek's miniature army, which makes the death of Rick and his friends a lot less likely. Damn you, Toulon! Meanwhile, Rick is introduced to a new puppet - Decapatron, a futuristic robot-type puppet. Although there has been no mention of this puppet in any of the preceding Puppet Master movies, his arrival is treated as if everyone should know who this puppet is. Great. Things get even worse as Six Shooter (a cowboy-style puppet) ends up killing another of Sutek's evil demons. To sum things up - because I'm getting ridiculously bored with this review, seeing as it's turning into a lengthy synopsis of the movie - Decapatron is brought to life (he needs electricity, not brain juice) and destroys another of Sutek's demons.

The movie ends quite quickly after this, and is followed by, somewhat obviously, Puppet Master V, which was amusingly called The Final Chapter. But by some strange twist of fate, Puppet Master V: The Final Chapter was followed by Curse Of The Puppet Master and the rage-inducing Retro Puppet Master. And yes, there's another movie after that! It just gets worse and worse! The fifth movie was shot in a similar back-to-back way as the second and third Back To The Future installments, in that the action, if you can call it that, between the fourth and fifth Puppet Master movies takes place without any gap in time. But that's all I'll say about the next wooden kill-beast movie, because there'll be a review of it up on this site sometime in the future. I know that idea probably fills you with dread, but it's a better idea than Ross writing a follow-up to his A.I. review. I joked with him that he should write a follow-up article about that movie, because it would give me enough content to update this site with until 2155. It wasn't a very funny joke. Then again, on this site, would you expect anything less? Such clever humour!

Anyway, the way the fourth movie in the Puppet Master series leaves it, Rick is now destined to be the puppet master. Magic. Toulon is now kicking around as a ghost, and Sutek is still on the scene, bitching about how his secret of artificial life is being pimped around by the clowns at the Bodega Bay hotel. Why Sutek didn't bother to do anything about this earlier - say, back in the 1940's when the third movie was set - is beyond me. Maybe it's because the makers of the series didn't really think out a convincing back history for all the puppets and related characters. You know what a good horror movie is? Psycho. You know what a funny horror movie is? Killer Klowns From Outer Space. You know what a bad horror movie is? Puppet Master IV. Simple as that (insert smiley face here). The worst thing about watching all the miserable movies in Full Moon's bizarre deadly puppet series is the amount of wasted time I've used up. I could have been watching Muppet Babies episodes, and instead I get stuck with plot holes and headaches from trying to understand the story. Thank you, Full Moon Pictures...thanks a bunch!

At one point, one of the characters asks out loud "What the hell is this?" and I completely sympathized. Of course, the actor saying the line was probably unaware of the double meaning the sentence had. By contrast, you were probably fully aware that the minute I mentioned that quote, I'd try and make a joke out of it. I'm lazy like that. There could be even more laziness in store! For you see, the closing paragraph of a Puppet Master review is usually where I repeat the end of the previous reviews of movies in the series. Essentially, I bitch about how bad Retro Puppet Master is and vow never to review it. However, because I've given in and broken that promise - even if the review is a long way off - I'm going to have start coming up with original ways to close my reviews of the following adventures of the deadly puppets. Let me try...this movie sucks ass, but rather than swallowing both cheeks like Puppet Master II, it's only got one in its mouth. Oh dear, it didn't work. I promise I'll come up with a really original (but probably unfunny) ending for my review of Puppet Master V. Maybe.

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