Puppet Master: The Legacy
The man currently in possession of Andre Toulon’s puppets is confronted by a rogue assassin who tries to force him to tell her the secret behind the life-giving serum that animates the puppets and the history of their creation.
Hmmm…well I see that plan A didn’t work well….
Dear god this series is seriously starting to piss me off. People may complain about the earlier two entries, but hell, at least they were actually full feature length movies. Puppet Master: The Legacy has to take the title of worst Puppet Master films. Why? Because it’s nothing more than a clip show in movie form. You know what a clip show is? That’s when the producers of a TV series get bored, or run out of ideas for a new story, but they still have an episode quota to fill, so they have the characters sit around and reminisce about previous events. Meaning you’re forced to watch an entire episode filled with nothing more than a bunch of flashback scenes, most of which you probably just saw in the last two days, because this is the streaming age and you’ve been spending the entire week trying to binge watch five years worth of show in four days. That’s what watching Puppet Master: The Legacy is like. Except it ends up being twice as bad because it’s a movie, so it ends up being twice as long.
I get the feeling that the main purpose of this film was trying to smooth out or clear up some of the many, many, MANY continuity errors the series had accumulated over the years. But if that was their intention then holy hell did they do a piss-poor job of it. It starts out okay by quickly (relatively speaking) summing up the events of Retro Puppet Master and Toulon’s Revenge, but after that things get a little bit murky. Our two main characters (our two only characters) spend the rest of their limited screen time in a dark basement (our film’s only setting) arguing over whether or not Toulon was a villain or simply some kind of misunderstood scientific genius. But like, that’s it. That’s ALL they do. Some sources claim that this comprises around 30-minutes of new footage, but I’d honestly be surprised it was any more than 10. So for 10-minutes they sit or stand around a poorly lit set and ask this series’ equivalent of deep philosophical questions regarding the dolls and their creator, all while their conversation gets continually interrupted by clips of earlier films and, shock of all shocks!, none of their questions ever actually get answered. Probably because the producers don’t know how to make sense of this convoluted series any better than the audience does. I mean, the assassin asks whether or not Toulon or the dolls were evil, but instead of trying to actually answer the question the movie just shows clips from the second film…of Toulon and the dolls killing innocent people and being evil? Like, thanks movie, you really helped clear that up.
Come on, shoot him. No one would blame you.
In fact, their attempts at smoothing things over might have actually made things even more confusing by them focusing more on certain parts of the series while completely omitting others. For instance, other than showing Toulon’s death, the movie completely ignores the events of the first film. Like, it’s their preeminent entry and they pretty much just glossed right over it. Wow. You think they finally realized just how much the plot of that movie sucked and they just didn’t want to bother? And despite being a huge part of three of the previous films, it also never once shows or even mentions Sutek. It only shows the deaths of his little puppet minions and vaguely mentions that the puppets fought in a great war. Then on the other end of the spectrum, it also goes out of its way to show both of the methods the series has shown (thus far) to create the puppets, the ring and spell that was introduced in Retro, and the creation of the formula from brain matter method that was shown in Puppet Master II. Yet it never clarifies WHY the method suddenly changed from simply reciting a spell, to forcefully sucking out brain fluid. Thanks movie, I’m still confused. We do, however, end up learning about what happened to some of earlier characters seen in the series. Which is nice, I guess, but their ultimate fates are delivered by such flippant, throwaway lines that finding out what happened to them really feels more insulting than informative. So if anything, the film feels like it just ends up highlighting the series issues more than it actually ends up solving them.
New issue: Why are the basement walls lined in burlap sacks?
As for what little there is of the new footage…. Well, it’s…there, I guess. The new scenes were shot in two days on a darkened basement set, so it probably looks about as well as you’d expect something like that to look. The acting is fine for what it is, but the dialogue and “story” they tell are almost as dumb and confusing as some of the other films, so it ends up being more frustrating than helpful. Oh, and the puppets are there too, but they spend most of their time sitting around or hanging limply from strings. Which is probably for the best, because this film clearly had NO budget, so in the couple instances that they do move it’s the jerky, awkward kind of movement that tells you they’re probably being moved and held up by a crew member who’s just out of frame. And when you compare that to the much more fluid, charming and lifelike movements seen in all the clips of the previous films…. Yeah it’s just best they limited that to stave off any further levels of crippling disappointment.
So, in short, this movie is awful. There, I said it. And you know what, it kind of hurts me to say it, too. Because while the earlier films weren’t necessarily “good”, they were at least entertaining enough, thanks in part to all the charming puppetry. But those days are past and this movie just highlights how far the series has fallen, and that’s just…really sad, actually. I’m not sure what’s going on, the characters aren’t sure what’s going on, and after over an hour no one ever bothered to explain what the “Legacy” was that the film was referring to. So it’s just bummers all around. Fans of the series will be completely underwhelmed by this, and newcomers hoping for a quick overview will still walk away feeling left in the dark. So I’m not sure if this is even worth recommending to anyone, because even though it’s essentially a “best of” clip show, which in theory should be enticing, it still feels too dull to be worth the time. I’m honestly surprised they bothered to make more after this travesty. But hey, there’s still 5-6 films left in the series to go at this point. So maybe I’ll luck out and things will improve a bit….
But I’m not holding my breath, and you shouldn’t either.
Puppet Master: The Legacy is available on a variety of streaming services.
Puppet Master: The Legacy is also available on DVD and Bluray.
2 thoughts on “Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)”
Well… I cam commiserate in a way. Howling 7 was a terrible thing filled with clips from previous movies that explained nothing and made no sense. And murky clips of people line dancing. The only thing different here here is there weren’t six more to go….
You are -> forever vigilant
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Ooof…yeah. I remember reading those. It just sounds like those movies get progressively worse and more confusing as they go on. I guess one point in it’s favor is that at least so far Puppet Master seems to be *attempting* a continuous story-line…..
Maybe not particularly well, mind you, but they are attempting it.