Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich @ Fantasia Film Festival

In your face fun with plenty of blood and humour thrown in for good measure. That is the way to most accurately describe directors Sonny Laguna (Animalistic, Wither) and Tommy Wiklund’s (Animalistic, Wither) foray into shock film. Even though you brace yourself for what you know will be coming (blood and guts) you still find yourself reacting to what you are seeing on the screen. Bodies are gutted, ripped apart, sliced, diced, and many other bloody ways you can kill a human being. The main purpose here is to shock you with the amount of gore and when it is not doing that make you laugh.

Swallowing his pride after his divorce, Edgar (Thomas Lennon – Reno 911!, Night at the Museum) moves back in with his parents. The comic book writer and his father (James Healy Jr. – appeared in episodes of Will & Grace and 24) have never gotten along, so this makes the blow to his psyche even more difficult. Things begin to look a bit better after reconnecting and starting to date childhood acquaintance, Ashley (Jenny Pellicer – from television’s The Bridge).

To make a little money, Edgar decides to try and sell a puppet that used to belong to his deceased brother. The puppet should bring in some cash as it was made by infamous killer Andre Toulon (Udo Kier – Blade, Downsizing). A convention is happening in association with the 30th anniversary of the Toulon murders in a small town in Texas, so Edgar, Ashley and the owner of the comic book store Edgar works in, Markowitz (Nelson Franklin – from television’s Arrested Development), head on over. They stay in a hotel in which all the others trying to sell Toulon puppets are staying.

After taking a tour of the Toulon mansion led by the former cop that shot him, Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton – Re-Animator, Body Double), Edgar and Ashley settle in for the evening while Markowitz heads to the hotel bar hoping to pick up a woman. No one in the hotel gets what they were hoping for as murders begin happening.

Concierge Howie (Alex Beh – Swing State) calls in Detective Brown (Michael Pare – The Virgin Suicides, The Lincoln Lawyer) to investigate the gruesome killings. While doing so more murders happen. It becomes clear that the unbelievable is happening. Something is animating the puppets and then in turn they are killing everyone in their paths.

Despite the fact that there is plenty of referrals to the Nazis and hate crimes (the puppets go after people of colour, lesbians, Jewish, and other “minorities”), it is not offensive because everything is so over the top you cannot help but be bemused. And people were! There was plenty of laughter, applause and sounds of delight happening as the carnage went on.

Gore and blood splatter are the name of the game here. With each subsequent death you know the next one is going to be more grotesque. The ante is upped throughout. Storyline is at a minimum. There is just enough to be able to get to the point where the body count can start. The special effects people working on this film should get special recognition as they came through despite a number of tricky death scenes that pushed the limits of FX, fake blood and makeup. Plus they have to make these puppets move, run, stab and slice. Most of it is done rather well.

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