Tag Line: World War III Begins on Your Toy Shelf.
Release Date: 2018.
Directors: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund.
Producers: Charles Band, Dallas Sonnier.
Written By: S. Craig Zahler, based on characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall.
Cast: Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin, Charlyne Yi, Michael Paré, Barbara Crampton, Udo Kier and Alex Beh.
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
A demonic doll silently creeps up on a pregnant women sleeping in hotel bed. He sneaks under the covers, slices his way into her vagina and ruthlessly carves his way into the womb. The woman screams as the doll bursts from her stomach, bloody baby in its clutches trailing guts and an umbilical cord behind as it escapes.
If this scene or the fact that the new diminutive instruments of terror in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich are marionette Nazis who target minorities among their victims upsets you, this horror film is probably not for you.
In 1989, the Puppet Master series was one of the franchises that spawned the term “video nasties” in the UK. The term evolved from just referring to VHS movies banned in the United Kingdom to a genre of horror films world-wide in which the filmmakers took full advantage of the direct-to-video market to push the limits of taste and carve out a home for cheaply made but enormously fun B movies, Many of them developed a cult following. One of those companies was Charles Band’s Full Moon Features, the creators of the Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, Dollman and Trancers franchises.
In the original Puppet Master series, the dastardly dolls were created by puppeteer and alchemist André Toulon who committed suicide rather than be captured by the Nazis in 1939. In the present day, a psychic discovers how Toulon animated the puppets using Egyptian magic and also learns how to control the dolls with his mind.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a reboot of the series turning the story of Toulon completely upside down. Toulon is now a Nazi sympathizer who fled Germany to make his home in the United States. Toulon continued Hitler’s work, kidnapping and torturing those of the Jewish faith until the local police ended him and his atrocities with a hail of bullets.
Fast-forward 30 years to today and sad sack Edgar Easton (Thomas Lennon from The Odd Couple, Santa Clarita Diet) has limped back home to his parents’ house while he and his wife part ways. A comic book artist who works at a comic book store, Easton is portrayed as a dispassionate and flat individual. I don’t know if that was intentional or not but he is duller than dishwater. Even the mute puppets themselves have more personality, more highs and lows on the screen, than Easton does.
Thankfully, Easton’s friends are the lives of the party and the film. There is his snarky boss, best friend and self-appointed editor, Markowitz (Nelson Franklin, who starred in New Girl and The Office) and Easton’s new love interest, an Andie Walsh-esque Ashley Summers played by Jenny Pellicer from The Bridge.
When he isn’t being constantly brow-beaten by his father and coddled by his mother, Easton stumbles across a Blade puppet stuffed away in his deceased brother’s bedroom. It just so happens that a convention surrounding the 30th Anniversary of Toulon’s murders is coming up so Easton decides to sell the toy there for some quick coin. His pals tag along for the ride and in doing so add the life and energy to the happenings.
The convention sets the stage for scene after scene of really bloody and really grisly mayhem as the puppets who are there to be sold by their owners spring to life slaughtering them and anyone else. Even an unborn baby and a young child are not spared their savage wrath.
Besides the slayings, the best part of the convention is the tour of the Toulon mansion by legendary scream queen Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Puppet Master, You’re Next), who plays Carol Doreski, one of the officers who took Toulon down back in the day. There are some cool moments from Crampton herself and others which will have you wondering if whomever is animating the puppets has some secret accomplices.
The Littlest Reich introduces some new puppets to the Puppet Master family of dolls too. Besides Blade, Pinhead, Tunneler and Torch there is:
The Happy Amphibian: A clown, frog hybrid.
Mechaniker: A tank robot firing explosive rounds.
Grasshüpfer: A killer, leaping grasshopper.
Junior Führer: A Hitler baby doll who can physically possess people.
Mr. Pumper: A puppet shaped like a gas station pump.
Then, there is my favourite: Autogiro. Auto is a drone-shaped robot with a propeller blade on one arm. Auto flies around dive bombing, slicing throats, heads and bellies.
The special effects by Wayne Anderson (The Predator, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Stranger Things) and his talented crew are above what you might have come to expect from your typical Puppet Master movie from Charles Band and Full Moon Features. They are repugnant, horrific and at times ghastly. And that’s the way we like ’em.
The Littlest Reich is not a film for every horror fan. If you are okay with the fact that the filmmakers are exploiting sensitive material in a mostly insensitive way as part of a fantasy horror story and you can tolerate many macabre and graphic scenes, you will have found another guilty pleasure. If not, you may want avoid The Littlest Reich altogether.
Head garroted off.
Car accident victim.
Two people blow torched.
Two stabbed to death.
Throat slit, head chopped off and lands in a toilet.
Stomach cut open, guts fall out.
One vagina, womb attack.
Drill to the throat.
Three people have their throats cut.
One person is scalped.
Arms and hands sliced off.
Arm torn off.
Six gunshot victims.
A hallway of corpses.
A massacre in a parking lot.
Head meets dumpster. Dumpster wins.
Stabbed in the neck.
Shot in the head.
Two simulated sex scenes with boobs, butts.
Edgar Easton to a Slash doll: Don’t stab or hook anything!
Markowitz to Easton: Hold on, Genghis McHitler!
Cuddly Bear: Bitch ass puppet!
Cuddly Bear: Biscuits!
Pints of Blood