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.
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.
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.
An additional few things about Puppet Master 2 from Cecil Trachenberg:
Also make sure to check out Cecil Trachenberg’s Good Bad Flicks episode about Puppet Master 2.