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“Puppet Master 2” – A Fantastic Sequel

Puppet Master was a success.  Critical response was mixed – which is a vast improvement over the negative criticism and “cheap” direct-to-video genre films.  It was a financial success and established Full Moon as a strong brand.  Like any successful film, of course there would be a sequel.  The philosophy of sequels is to provide more of what made its predecessor a success; in this case that would be the puppets.  Sometimes called Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creations, the film re-introduces the puppets’ creator, Andre Toulon, as a villain.  The puppets have reanimated their master and are harvesting the brains of guests at the Bodega Bay Inn as well as some locals.  We are introduced to a new puppet, Torch, who is able to shoot flames.  The feasibility of fueling, maintining and using miniature flamethrowers with a wooden puppet are questions better left unasked.

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While we now have the puppets themselves as the primary focus, it is still the Puppet Master, this time Andre Toulon, as the villain.  I often cite Puppet Master 2 as being the true set-up of a franchise because its here that we get Andre Toulon as a tragic anti-hero and the puppets as his valued companions.  The first film merely introduced Toulon as the creator of these puppets, reanimated through some secret method.  Puppet Master 2 gives us our first real introduction to the character of Andre Toulon who would become the primary figure of the franchise – equal to the puppets.

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This was the first Puppet Master film I watched, when I was 12 years old.  It’s exploitative elements, such as nudity, onscreen violence, and a fun sense of dark humor, appealed to me at the time.  I still enjoy B-movie fare like I did then – it does have all the great elements of exploitation filmmaking I like.

The first Puppet Master was a horror film consistent with a directors visual aesthetic; a representation of the interpretation of the material.  Puppet Master 2 is entertainment for entertainment’s sake, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It wonderfully delivers on the expectations and interests of its fans.  For this part of the early 1990’s, Full Moon knew precisely what they were doing.  Band perfectly understood the desires of his audience and, more often than not, delivered to that.  He still does but for such a niche audience that’s rapidly changing,and in a field with evolving distribution models; financial success is more difficult now than in 1991.  Full Moon was at the top, and very few films exemplify that “Golden Age” more than Puppet Master 2.The-Puppet-Master-2-kid

An additional few things about Puppet Master 2 from Cecil Trachenberg:

I first stumbled upon the trailer for Puppet Master 2 on a Paramount VHS tape sometime in the 90s. I’ve always had a soft spot for stop-motion animation, and a horror movie with a mix of evil stop-motion puppets seemed like a winner. I went to my local video store, and since I like to start movie series at the beginning, I looked for the first movie. Oddly enough, they didn’t have it, so I went straight to part 2.  It changed my movie watching life forever.
Puppet Master 2 was an absolute joy. It had just enough plot to keep things interesting, plus some great kills and even a few sex scenes for good measure. I think I wore out the tape rewinding the scene of the lovely Charlie Spradling getting out of bed, although it always baffled me how upset she was that a guy would shower after sex. Anyway, the real draw here was the puppets, and as I would later learn, they weren’t the focus of the first one. This made me happy that I didn’t see part 1 first because I may not have watched the second one. Not that part 1 is bad, just that for a movie called Puppet Master, there is a severe lack of killer puppets.
Puppet Master 2 revolves around a group of Ghost Hunters investigating the weird occurrences at the Bodega Bay Hotel. The hotel was closed after the first movie, and all the characters who survived the first were essentially killed off. The Puppets were a creation of Andre Toulon, a puppeteer who was taught the ability to give life to the undead from a guy who thought kids were watching too much television. No, really; this guy thought kids should only watch puppet shows because TV rots your brain or something. The puppets were created for the kids, but one has to wonder what kid wants to see a puppet that vomits leeches? Toulon kills himself in the first movie only to be resurrected by his creations in the sequel. The movie then goes into full gear as the puppets cut out brain chunks from the unsuspecting Ghost Hunters in order to create a concoction that will allow Toulon to live in a giant, nightmare-inducing puppet body.
Much like most slasher films, the cast was there as cannon fodder for the killers. They showed up, said their lines, and then took a puppet drill to the forehead. The movies knew what they were, and they never shied away from giving the audience what they wanted.
Torch quickly became my favorite puppet for two reasons. One, because out of all the puppets, he seemed to have the most distinct personality and two, because he is a puppet with a goddamn flamethrower. The other puppets are unique in their own ways, but you can’t deny the cool factor of a puppet that just sets anything he doesn’t like on fire.
Puppet Master 2 was my introduction to Full Moon Entertainment. As most people would do in the 90s, I fast forwarded through the trailers that they front loaded onto the VHS. However, after enjoying the movie so much, I went back and watched the trailers. I saw such wonders that day. They had trailers for Crash and Burn, Dollman, and Trancers 2. When I returned to the video store, I rented all of them. Much like Puppet Master, they didn’t have Trancers, so I rented Trancers 2. I had a friend over, and we relished the low budget effects and cheesy one-liners from Tim Thomerson.
After that, I made an effort to watch every Full Moon movie that was released.
As with a lot of Full Moon movies, you don’t need to see them in order to enjoy them. With the Puppet Master movies, they seem to throw continuity out the window with each film. Some movies the puppets are good and some of them they are bad. In 3, they are not only good, they are the heroes and manage to take down a whole bunch of Nazis during WWII.
The quality of the Puppet Master films has gone up and down over the years. As of currently, there are 10 of them, with an 11th on the way. They all are worth watching, though…Well, with the exception of Legacy, which is just a glorified clip show.
Part 2 nailed it for me. While a lot of people call part 3 the best, 2 will always have a special place in my heart as the best of the series.

Also make sure to check out Cecil Trachenberg’s Good Bad Flicks episode about Puppet Master 2.

About The Author
Matthew Coats
Matthew Coats
Formerly known under the pseudonym of Alex Jowski. Site owner, movie aficionado, and film school grad. Matthew Coats presents reviews, some written, some as vlogs, and some as weekly shows, for a variety of different movies and television shows. After years of struggling to get his own projects off the ground amidst the normal routine of living, Matthew Coats decided to create a site in order to share and promote movie reviews, video games and much much more from talented and original people all across the internet.

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