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This movie came out in 1990, one year after the original, which has continued to spawn sequels as recently as 2012, placing its status among the titans of horror, the invicble, the slashers, the monsters, the ever-marketable. Produced by the same guys who did Evil Bong, Evil Bong 2: King Bong, Evil Bong 3D: The Wrath of Bong, Gingerdead Man Vs. Evil Bong, Evil Bong 420, and Evil Bong High-5, which I don't know if that last one has released yet or if any of its crew dates back to this 1990 B movie. I mean, this is Puppet Master II I'm talking about, it's not like I'm gonna fact check it.

 

I didn't see the original. After the Full Moon logo sets into a thunderous night, puppets open up a guy's grave. Our heros are four virile government workers, setting up in a haunted house, to get proof of paranormal activities. Some guy lost his mind in that place. The redneck harbinger scene was one of the best scenes, as always. Some fantastic character actor, Buck something, played "Mathew," (identifyable as mumbling farmer.) He begraced his short cameo fiddling with an electrical fence, his wife comes up and talking about critters eating her animals' brains, and then later she is chasing round this puppet with a shotgun and gets set on fire. That's the pitch: one of the puppets has a flamethrower.

 

The Act II titties were way bigger than expected.

 

Not much surprise to this viewer, as yet unfamiliar with the franchise, that so many sequels had been manufactured for this series. There was a lot of intrigue. Nazis were a dominant part of the past, and yet not always in an unconventional way. There's terrific variety and distinction between the puppets, surely a set of baseball cards for the invested viewer. And yet most of the film's pulse, all puns intended, rests with Andre Toulon, or: Enriquee Chenee, his long pauses and thick German accent. They dealt fast and loose with themes of reincarnation, Egyptian mummification, schizophrenia, and perhaps magic. Probably the most brilliant stroke was casting the same woman as Carolyn and Elsa. Unlike Michael's unanswered questions -- the puppets killed your mom, duh, you know how strong they are, one had a flamethrower! -- whether our heroine really is the wife of Andre Toulon reincarnated, at least physically, or whether it's just Enriquee Chenee's horny and deranged delusions remains unsolved. Chenee was fresh out the grave, he fixated on the first woman he saw. And Elsa ultimately persuaded Toulon to accept the devil's barter. Her actions were either purely malicious and indulgent, or truly motivated to maintain the struggle of being the puppeteer's wife. Not an easy role, a motif we see crystallized in Being John Malcovich (1999). In turn, Carolyn seems to depend deeply on her safe, structured government job. They all are, in fact, which justifies but doesn't condone Lance's overreaction when he finds out Wanda ditched the computer/surveillance station unattended at 12:00 in order to have sex with him. Sure he cares about his job, rightfully so, but he shouldn't have yelled just because she was offended he showered, which I thought was kind of odd, but not pointless. 

 

Probably the worst choice? Handling of the dead brother. I thought they were trying to establish something thematic when he said, "You don't have any responsibility," but instead, the consistent message was about seeking and indulging the weight of proof. His death was pretty righteous, but then they threw him in a freezer, and the sister really moved on fast.

 

Would I recommend you watch it?

two-and-a-half stars

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