Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, 2018.
Directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund.
Starring Thomas Lennon, Michael Paré, Nelson Franklin, Barbara Crampton, Udo Kier, and Jenny Pellicer.
Recently divorced and reeling, Edgar (Thomas Lennon) returns to his childhood home to regroup. Finding a nefarious-looking puppet in his deceased brother’s room, he decides to sell the doll for quick cash at a small-town convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the infamous Andre Toulon murders. Girl-next-door Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) and his comic book shop boss Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) join Edgar for the doomed road trip, where all hell breaks loose, a strange force animates other puppets at the convention, and a bloody killing spree begins motivated by ancient evil.
Okay, full disclosure: I haven’t seen all twelve of the previous Puppet Master films. I know, I know, I’m a disgrace on film journalism, but I promise to do better in future. But for now, we’ll all have to make do.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the thirteenth movie in the puppet master franchise. However, rather than being a straight up sequel, it’s more of a reimagining. The film takes place in a slightly different universe, apparently (for all that matters) but otherwise it’s still a film about puppets that kill people.
There’s a little more to the plot than just puppets killing people, however. These puppets kill people you care for! Which is more can be said for most slashers. They also kill some people you don’t care for, but do so in ways that are so ludicrous and gory that you have to either laugh or cringe, depending on how you deal with blood.
Blood’s not the only thing you’ll have to deal with. With the film’s antagonists being a collection of creative Nazi puppets, you’ll have to contend with a slew of offensive jokes. Some are obvious, but there are a few that you will Nazi coming (really, James? Fucking hell). Fortunately, for the most part, these jokes are actually funny, rather than being solely offensive.
The Littlest Reich is better produced than you might anticipate. It’s hardly stylish, but it’s editing, directing, and cinematography are all very competent. Not that this has any real impact on the film – no one will pick this up to marvel at its beauty – but it’s worth a mention. The acting is also good all round. The main characters have distinct personalities, and their shared dry wit really adds to the impact of the jokes.
As an added bonus, occasionally the film ventures away from gory slapstick and Nazi jokes and pokes fun at millennials. There a couple of nods to the hilarity of outrage culture, and there’s a fair dose of hipster bashing. Nothing to complain about there.
Look, there’s little more I can say about The Littlest Reich. It’s a film about Nazi puppets slaughtering people. If that appeals to you, you’ll like it. If it doesn’t, you won’t. Simple as that. It’s good for what it is, but it is what it is.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor