Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, 2018.
Directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund.
Starring Udo Kier, Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin, Charlyne Yi, Michael Pare, and Barbara Crampton.
“All hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets up for auction at a convention, setting them on a killing spree that’s motivated by evil as old as time.”
Is this the most insane movie involving Nazi puppets? I think so! Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the newest film in the long-running horror franchise, and serves as a reboot since it ignores twelve previous entries. That ends up being a big saving grace for The Littlest Reich as the film feels fresh but still familiar enough. While not a “masterpiece” by any means, this is the exact type of horror film hardcore fans love.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich wastes no time establishing the devious toys. Most of the backstory coming in a wonderfully animated opening credits sequence. Andre Toulon (Udo Kier), the titular Puppet Master, creates the puppets to hunt Jewish families during World War II. Before Germany’s defeat, Toulon leaves the country and heads to the US. The film begins years after he lands, now in 80’s small-town Texas. Andre Toulson is harassing two women and then shortly sends the killer puppets to murder them. Cops quickly figure out the culprit and charge into his house, shooting him. The film jumps to present-day Texas with our lead Edgar Easton (Thomas Lennon) moving back home after his divorce. Like I mentioned earlier, the film wastes little time as Edgar quickly finding the puppet leader, Blade. The puppet belonged to Edgar’s deceased kid brother, something the young boy came across at sleepaway camp. This discovery leads Edgar down a path to sell Blade to a convention that’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Toulson murders. Yes, in this universe, things like brutal killings join in the convention circuit. Can you imagine next year if we have the Manson Murder convention? You’d call it like Once Upon a Time In Hollywood or something…
That’s what this movie does best though. The Littlest Reich turns a ridiculous plot into something mesmerizing. You can describe this as an exercise in absurdity. Throughout this viewing, I found myself saying “No way” or “They won’t do that” multiple times. That’s something hard to do in such an over-stimulated world. While the film isn’t as comical as some of the later sequels, it doesn’t shy away from a little campiness. It deals with a heavy topic like Nazis, grounding it in some reality, but twisting things up slightly to make it light enough. All of these tonal shifts blend, and that’s impressive for newer directors to pull off. The director duo, Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund, have a bright future if they can churn out low-budget fare like this. Someone give Jason Blum their phone number!
The most substantial portion of this movie is the second act when all hell breaks loose. The many puppets brought to the convention finally wake up and start slashing through their respected owners. This doll massacre leads to some very brutal kills; the FX quality of each ranges from gleefully grotesque to laughably bad. The practical effects are refreshing, but it does show off some of the budgetary issues. Still, the on-screen insanity more than makes up for a few cheap tricks. All of the madness does begin to weigh things down, but the film smartly wraps things up before you grow tired of the puppet murders. If the script was just a little tighter or it trimmed 10 minutes from the runtime, it would be a near perfect low-budget gorefest!
If you like your horror with some laughs, a lot of blood, and surprisingly strong acting then this is the perfect movie for you. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich not only exceeds expectations but sets the bar higher for similar films. Many will call this crude and offensive; something that I would not disagree with, but this isn’t for everyone. If you are easily offended or have a weak stomach, avoid this like the plague. If you are down for a crazy puppet killing adventure, check out The Littlest Reich.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★