Puppet Master: the Legacy (2003)
It sure feels good to know that I wasn’t the only person out there confused by Full Moon’s enigmatic Retro Puppet Master. Prior to Retro, the films had been following a sloppy, but understandable, trajectory. The first two were present day, with the puppets decidedly evil, fan favorite Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge tainting the series by showing Charles Band that the masses preferred heroic uppers, setting the stage for the two-part adventure in Pupper Master 4; appropriately subtitled “When Bad Puppets Go Good.”
Got all that? Good, ‘cuz here’s were it starts to get messy. Seeking to inject some life into the now old franchise, the next installment was the Curse of the Puppet Master which apparently jettisoned the whole Andre Toulon Puppet Master backstory in exchange for a series reboot. A reboot that I’m guessing flopped, as the next film in the line, the aforementioned Retro Puppet Master, ignored the new mythology and brought Toulon back, this time in a story taking place before the pivotal III.
Which brings us to the next installment: Puppet Master: the Legacy; a clip show where Full Moon tries to reconcile all the disparate story lines and puppet temperaments into a coherent continuum. The upside is Legacy is significantly shorter than the other Puppet Master films, and only stars two horrible actors. The downside is that, as a clip show, the film’s shorter runtime consists of footage we’ve already suffered through once already.
Also, one of the two actors looks a lot like Angelina Jolie circa Tomb Raider, but with eyes so crazy that you have to wonder if they picked her just to jazz up their one set movie. It’s practically like having an actor and (two) props rolled in one!
We learn that Retro Puppet Master is the first film in the serial; featuring as it does Toulon learning how to animate puppets as well as version 1 puppets. Though one does wonder, if his first puppets were animated with the souls of his murdered friends, if the present Blade still contains the immortal life essence of Toulon’s best friend? Or was it lost when Toulon carved Blade a new body? Did he have to steal the life-force from a new best friend?
Questions lost to the sands of time it seems. Along with the amazing Dr. Death puppet, and the hoohum Cyclops. Seriously, version 1’s Dr. Death would be a analogue to say the present’s Blade’s popularity, while Cyclops is a bore-fest similar to the Jester. All Cyclops manages to do is somehow lose his head by film’s end.
Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge comes next, with Toulon and his wooden companions fighting the Nazis. Fans love this one for some reason, probably because the chief Nazi really looks sleazy. It’s easy to stand behind a film when the actors actively support stereotypes; he looks and acts like a prick!
One thing this collection of clips doesn’t explain is why Six Shooter, who premiered in III, makes no appearance in the original Puppet Master or its sequel. I mean, the real reason is obvious, as he wouldn’t debut until III, but it’d be nice for Full Moon to at least acknowledge the disconnect with some sort of half-hearted explanation. After all, aren’t those the types of questions a collection such as this one is supposed to tackle?
Maybe Six Shooter just refused to turn evil with the rest of Toulon’s puppets.
Puppet Master 4 & 5 come next in the timeline. The puppets are once again heroes here, and Six Shooter is shown fighting, a bit of footage that’ll help Full Moon try to gloss over his disappear during Toulon’s turn to the dark side. A 70 minute movie, and 50 minutes in Puppet Masters 1 & 2 have only been mentioned in passing.
Curse of the Puppet Master is imagined as a sequel to 5, instead of a series reboot. Apparently Toulon’s animated puppets were found by the crazy puppet builder, who acted as if he had made them. A puppet master who knew Toulon’s valuable soul-granting/grafting ability despite the fact that Legacy’s entire plot revolves around assassin Maclain (Kate Orsini) trying to get Toulon’s secret from Peter Hertz (Jacob Witkin). (Peter is revealed to be Toulon’s adopted son following Andre’s failed residence in Nazi Germany.)
I guess it’s kind of fitting for the line that their explanations can’t even hold up under the weight of their collective buffoonery.
Uh, so it’s the puppets’ fault that Toulon was brought back to life as a raving madman with a wooden body. Though, again, if the reanimation technique caused Toulon to return as a psychopath, wouldn’t the same apply to his puppets when he reanimated them?
If this sounds as if it’s getting too deep for you, rest assured, it’s almost over. The next film has the puppets fighting Nazis once again.
Shit, I just realized that the original Puppet Master doesn’t get mentioned at all during this so-called “Legacy” piece. The S&M bed scene was Leech Woman’s only moment in the spotlight!