We’re finally here folks, 31 (technically 37 counting this month’s Doomsday Reels marathon) movies later and I am finally, blessedly, done. This has been something of an endurance test and I may don a carrot mask and fight crime now, but hopefully these reviews have illuminated all the reasons to love (and hate) Charles Band and Full Moon entertainment. Let’s close out the season with the movie that sits right on the divide between love and hate. There were plenty of bad movies before 1993 and there were a fair amount of good ones after, but one movie stands as the spot where the wave broke and Full Moon traded in ambition for lazy complacency.
When I decided to take on this challenge, one of the first rules I made was that I wasn’t going to do any sequels. I could have easily blown through ten entries on Puppet Master alone, but I wanted a good cross-section of the company’s output over the years. Still, there’s one sequel that I just couldn’t resist.
So, sixteen years before Nicholas J. Fury would appear after the credits had ended to tell Tony Stark that he was putting a team together, Brick Bardo appeared at the end of the credits for Bad Channels. Of the four women kidnapped and shrunk to miniature size, only one remained stuck in that state at the end of the movie (though there’s really no reason she should’ve been, the machine that restored the others should’ve been able to fix her too and it wasn’t damaged in any way), that woman was Bunny. At the end of the movie, Brick was seen walking down the highway to Pahoota, talking about Bunny’s predicament and saying maybe she’d like a visit from Dollman.
Bunny was a teenage rocker chick and at some point it was decided that the small woman and Dollman would be romantically involved. At the time that Bad Channels came out, Tim Thomerson was 46 years old and I think everybody decided that that was just going to be a shade creepy. So through the magic of dodgy editing it was changed so the nurse Ginger (Melissa Behr) was the sole tiny woman remaining.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. To start things off Officer Judy Grey (Tracy Scroggins) returns, hot on the trail of the demonic toys, who are back. She tries to stop them but they’re tiny and easily escape into the air vents, so she gets the idea to track down a tiny police officer she heard about. Back with Dollman, he meets up with Ginger at her home and they connect since they’re the only people the same size. She asks about his exotic home planet and he tells his story, with accompanying clips from Dollman. Then he asks what her deal is and she tells her story, with accompanying clips from Bad Channels. Listen for the hilariously bad dubbing when the guy who asks “where’s Bunny” asks “where’s Ginger?”
So anyway, Judy walks in on the two of them boning on the kitchen counter and tells them she needs their help. Brick and Ginger come to the warehouse where the toys hiding and Judy gets shot and killed, leaving Bardo and Ginger to fend for themselves. The toys this time are the returning Jack Attack, Mr. Static, and Baby Oopsy Daisy (now voiced by Frank Welker who I normally love but here his voice work is horrendously annoying) and a GI Joe-esque doll named Zombietoid (I don’t get it either.) Naturally Zombietoid is just a guy in a fake plastic head so that he can fight with Brick without having to do any special effects work. Economy! Unfortunately Grizzly Teddy does not return.
This was the movie that fully established the interconnected Full Moon universe (or Full Mooniverse as I like to call it) as a thing and the most in-depth that it would ever get, combining three films into one. I’m not really sure why Band chose Dollman to fight the demonic toys over Andre Toulon’s puppets as the puppets were more iconic, cheaper to use, and made logical sense as an enemy. Supposedly puppets vs. dolls was originally intended to be the plot of Puppet Master 4, but someone foolishly decided that Decapitron was a better idea. As it is, we never got a proper Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (there is a movie with that name, but it’s a shitty direct-to-TV mess that wasn’t even made by Full Moon.)
There’s only something like 40-minutes of footage that isn’t credits or re-used from prior movies and Charles Band’s direction is lazy. Only Tim Thomerson and Phil Fondacaro bring any good performances to the movie and the plot (which culminates in Baby Oopsy Daisy being possessed by his demonic master, which causes him to grow a penis so that he can rape an antichrist into Ginger) is just godawful. There’s still a little bit of the earlier films’ prior charm (when Brick Bardo blows off Jack Attack’s head with his fancy space gun he says “Pop goes the weasel”) but it’s massively inferior to any of its three origin films.
Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Watch it if you really want more, just understand that you’ll be disappointed.
If You Liked This, Watch: Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (2004), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)