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Grimmfest 2018 Review – Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich – “Some of the most creative death scenes I’ve seen in a long time”

A reboot of the Charles Band’s Puppet Master franchise, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the 13th film in the series… and quite possibly the best. It’s truly special. The film was produced by Dallas Sonnier, who’s known for making genre movies with a well-known actor thrown in, enough for some kind of theatrical or festival run followed by decent sales in the Wal-Mart DVD bin. The director of Bone Tomahawk and Brawl of Cell Block 99, S. Craig Zahler, served as screenwriter, with a team of directors, Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund.

Edgar (Thomas Lennon), a nerd who has recently separated from his wife, works in a comic book shop. He’s returned to live with his parents. He looking through some belongings of his deceased brother, who died under mysterious circumstances. He finds a puppet, Googles it, and finds out that there is a convention upcoming in a small Oregon town (oddly, it was all shot in Texas.) Unknown to him, the town had previously been the site of murders associated with the Puppet Master. He heads to the convention with his boss and a geeky girl who he has recently met to check it out, hoping to make some money by putting it up for auction. And then…

The film definitely lives up to its title. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich has a ludicrous plot based on murderous, supernatural Nazi puppets that start committing hate crimes, targeting Blacks, lesbians, Jews, etc. It’s hilarious, with a supporting cast of 70s and 80s favourites, and cameos from lots of cult actors like Udo Kier (who plays the Puppet Master, Andre Toulon, the pronunciation of whose name has varied throughout the series.) Barbara Crampton plays a retired police officer who witnessed the earlier Toulon murders and also attends the convention. The current chief of police is played by Michael Paré, probably best known for playing the lead in Streets of Fire.

If you don’t want to see a film where someone gets their head chopped off while having a wee, with the head falling in the toilet while the stream of urine is still going, this probably isn’t the film for you. And then again, if you’re the kind of viewer who laughs out loud when there’s a Jewish guy who throws a doll of a baby Hitler into an oven, shouting “see how you like it!” it just might be your thing. Neo-Nazis, of course, hate the movie — it has just enough jokes about the alt-right to take the piss out of them (which is hilarious because no doubt some will rent it). Zahler has been one of the hottest screenwriters in the industry for almost a decade before making his first film as a director, so the dialogue is pretty snappy — he was clearly having a ball when he wrote it. It has some of the most creative death scenes I’ve seen in a long time, with Peter Jackson’s Braindead an obvious comparison. It’s funny that they were able to get Zahler to do it because he’s a big deal in Hollywood these days.

If it sounds like something you’d like, go buy this movie immediately—it’s available on DVD in the states, but I’m not sure when it’s come here but should be out soon. It’s a better film than Brawl in Cell Block 99, and probably the best film in the entire Puppet Master franchise.

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