“I’m gonna put a curse on you, and all your kids will be born naked” -Jimi Hendrix
“It is a cursed evil to any man to become as absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.” -Charles Darwin
“Work is the curse of the drinking class” -Oscar Wilde
Ok, remember how I kind of liked Puppet Master 5? How it was a breath of fresh air that not only filled my sorry excuse of a heart with joy, but made me hopeful that future entries of this series might not actually be that bad? Well, I watched Puppet Master 6, and I can safely say that whatever goodwill I felt has been replaced by only sadness and cynicism. This entry in a series with already dubious continuity manages to push things so far towards the unrecoverable abyss that it might as well not even exist in the same universe. That’s right. NEGATIVE CONTINUITY. It doesn’t just break the sequence of events set in previous films. It manages to ignore them completely. I know I’ve dogged this series pretty frequently on its tenuous grasp of what is or isn’t canon, but this shit takes it to previously unheard of levels. Now, if that was the only problem, that would be bad enough, but this is sort of like a black hole of suck that is so sense that no quality whatsoever can escape it. If this sounds harsh to you, you probably haven’t had the pleasure of watching this shit piece, but I have… And I’m definitely worse off because of it. But let’s take a closer look and see how this movie managed to mess things up on every conceivable level.
Basically, the plot of this movie is as follows. Dr. Magrew, the owner of a sideshow/museum now owns the puppets, and he and his daughter befriend a local simpleton who goes by the name of Tank, and upon noticing his whittling skills, enlist his aid in carving new puppets to try to bring to life. Of course, there are generic movie villain teenagers who don’t take kindly to this for some reason, and they alternate between getting punchy and rapey. It turns out that this new puppet master intends to kill Tank, and use his life force to bring the puppet he was building to life. By the time the daughter realizes what’s up, it’s too late, and Puppet Tank goes all berserk and as he’s about to kill his former boss, the screen goes to black, and it’s over.
You may have noticed that I didn’t really mention the puppets much in the recap. This is due to the fact that they are largely irrelevant to the plot. Outside of one scene where they go to town on the rapey antagonist, they really don’t have much to do here. In fact, a lot of the motion shots are pulled from previous films.
Speaking of pulling from previous films, let’s talk about the opening credits sequence. It’s a solid 5 minutes of puppet footage from previous films, all presented without context, and clearly intended to both pad the running time, and fudge the production values a little bit. Worst of all, is that Torch is featured prominently in this sequence, despite not being part of this film. If you’ve been paying attention to these blogs, you’ll already know that I love Torch, and getting teased with an appearance without a pay off is a peeve of mine. Furthermore, in a movie that ends up ignoring continuity to an almost bizarre level, including a lengthy recap of previous films borders on obscene.
Here’s another thing. How did he come into possession of the puppets in the first place? We just spent 2 movies with Rick, who Toulon himself named as the new puppet master. It doesn’t seem like he would just randomly put them up for sale. I mean, he literally just defeated a demon from another dimension. Either things got easier after that, and Rick was able to properly care for the puppets, or things somehow got worse, and we’re missing a significantly more interesting chunk of the story. At any rate, not explaining how the puppets managed to get from Rick & Bodega Bay to some backwoods town is a pretty important plot point to gloss over.
The character of Tank… I’m not sure how to put this… It’s unclear if he’s just a really nice guy, or if he’s somehow mentally handicapped. If it’s the former, his violent tendencies that come out late in the movie don’t make any sense, and if it’s the latter, it kind of makes the romantic subplot between him and the daughter to be a bit squicky. I feel like if they would have picked either direction and went with it, it would have been worlds better. Instead, we’re stuck in this middle ground of muddled characterization. I’m not saying that characters all need to be instantly readable on a purely surface level, but if you have a character who is both a big brute and a bullied sensitive artist, and offer no clarification either way in terms of development, you end up with two totally opposing archetypes at odds with each other.
Speaking of Tank… He’s spending the entire movie carving this puppet out of wood. He gets so obsessed with making this thing that not only does he scrap pieces with even the tiniest of imperfections, but is also stressed out to the point of having nightmares that he is turning into wood. Point being that it is well established he’s working with wood. I mentioned earlier that Magrew’s goal was to kill Tank, and put his soul in the puppet he was building, but when they reveal the puppet, it looks like a robot completely made of metal. It even has a view screen where Tank’s face is shown. What kind of wood did he whittle an LCD screen out of? This couldn’t have possibly been what he was building. The previous puppet he experimented with was a wooden puppet. Why is this one a literal tank?
There is so much to hate about this movie. The puppets take a backseat to a love triangle between a snooty young woman, a rapist, and a (possibly) mentally handicapped person. It makes no effort to explain how it fits in relation to the previous films. Even as a stand alone film, it doesn’t make sense. It looks cheap. It cuts corners. The performances are bad. There is no clear protagonist. The creature designs are bad. Even the title is bad. There is no curse. Just an old guy being a dick, and kidnapping (possibly) mentally handicapped people with the intention of murdering them. Literally, everything is wrong. I’ve tried, and I can’t think of a single thing I enjoyed watching in this movie. I mean, I HATED part 4, but at least that had a whole lot of goofy shit like laser tag and GWAR demons in it. This was just unpleasant from start to finish. I guess the only silver lining is that it’s all down hill from here on out. 6 down, 4 to go.