Puppet Master 2 (1991)
WRITERS: Story by Charles Band
Screenplay by David Pablan
DIRECTOR: David Allen
Elizabeth Maclellean as Carolyn Bramwell/Elsa
Collin Bernsen as Michael Kenney
Gregory Webb as Patrick Bramwell
Charlie Spradlin as Wanda
Steve Welles as Andre Toulon
Jeff Weston as Lance
Nita Talbot as Camille Kenney
SYNOPSIS: The puppety ones are back to wreak vengance upon a group of paranormal investigators looking into the death of Alex Whitaker from the original movie. And this time, they've brought their creator.
THE WHOLE BLOODY MESS: It may just be because it's a sequel, it may just be because the movies are still burned into my mind, but as this movie opens up panning across a rather cheap looking cemetary, I am cast straight back into Corpse Grinders.
Instead of Caleb digging the graves though, we find Pinhead unearthing a box that looks more like the classic Puppet Master steamer trunk than a coffin. I guess Toulon died as he lived.
After he brushes the nameplate on the coffin clean, revealing Toulon's name just to make it clear, Pinhead pours a green liquid into the muddy hole while the other puppets watch. It isn't long before rotten, dessicated arms are reaching out for its toys.
With that creepy little tease, and it is right into the credits. And that awesome music. Which is sadly the best part of these credits, as they just end up as white text on a black screen. No effort at all, sigh.
After hitting fast forward, it isn't long before we're back at our old friend, the familiar locale of the Bodega Bay Inn, where a cute redhead is trying to get into the door, but seems to not know how to operate a doorknob. Since she can't perform a proper B&E even when she has a key, she heads back to the rest of her cannon fodder brigade. Another group of paranormal researchers like the first movie. How many of those will this place eat up?
Can we send the Ghost Hunters there, please?
So her partner in the pink shirt decides to take his own stab at getting in, and he apparently has a rap sheet since his breaking in would be a parole violation. Nice to know they've got all the proper clearance to be there, huh? They're their on official business from the US government, and he can't break down a door? You would think that would be ok.
Ahh, the early 90s, when your government had nothing better to do but spend your tax dollars on investigating killer puppets.
Two more of the researchers hop out of the Mystery Machine and they all pile into the Bodega Bay. Inside, the place is all covered up in sheets and plastic, and a smidge of cobwebs. I guess Megan and the zombie dog got bored and wandered off elsewhere.
It looks like this batch of fools is here to investigate what happened to the previous batch of fools. Most importantly, what happened to Alex. His experiences in the last movie drove him quite mad, and I can understand how that might happen.
They start cleaning up the place and bringing in their equipment, and it isn't long before they all start hearing strange noises and things that go bump in the noon. Frankly, it could just be one of their team in another room doing their share of the cleaning, but no one seems to suggest that, ever.
Before long they've got a bank of monitors set up, and are checking for hollow walls and hidden passageways where a normal person can hide. That's actually a pretty smart move, since while there was a corpse in the first movie, he still had to move around and aside from not being dead, he had no supernatural abilities.
So it turns out the passageways are real, which I guess explains a few things in the first movie. But they tell us this rather than show us. Yes, because hearing measurements for floor plans are off by a few inches here and there is much more entertaining than opening up a bookcase.
As they're giving backstory about how the inn was made by a crazy old lady who was told by an Egyptian that this spot was a pocket of mystical energy, they hear a crash in the other room. The team finds the bird statue that distracted Wanda earlier smashed into pieces while they were all in the other room. On top of all that, it appears to be filled with a strange goo.
Meanwhile in another movie, a farmer is fixing his barbed wire fence when a woman shows up looking for Scarab Hill. I guess that's where the hotel is. At least I hope so, or a puppet snuck in and swapped DVDs on me while I was getting a drink. The farmer and his wife are about as helpful, and have as good a grasp of English as the stereotypical Hollywood hicks.
The local yokels send the woman on her way, while screaming about Satan and evil, before going back to wondering what's killing their livestock. Man, I hope it's Satan.
Fortunately that wasn't a total diversion, as the woman joins up with the researchers at the hotel. We learn she's a genuine psychic, like the group from the first movie. Rising dead, real. Animated puppets, real. Psychics, real. The word is still out on aliens and vampires.
At least upstairs something interesting is happenning, as behind a door is low chanting, a strange glow seen through the cracks, and smoke pouring out. Gee, if only there was a group of people who were setting up a bunch of cameras to see weird stuff going on in the hotel.
But no, after a night of finding NOTHING AT ALL, the redhead's brother Patrick is out back and stumbles across the hotel's personal cemetary. Which brings new meaning to you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. While there, he finds the dug up grave of Toulon, and snaps some pictures.
The team has a nice dinnertime conversation about how Megan died with her brain being removed through the nose. Yes, there's a lot of Egyptian trappings in this movie. And frankly, that's what you deserve for bringing back zombie dogs. Megan's death is what caught the government's interest and sent the investigators on the trail of the original team, and specifically to find what happened to Alex Whitaker. Geeze guys, just go rent the DVD.
We get a brief moment of interestingness as we see black-clad hands constructing something by candlelight, but this movie can't be too interesting for too long, and it is soon back to the researchers.
Patrick finds his sister, Carolyn, and apologises for his drunken harassing of Camille the night before. His sister is busy reading about Toulon's suicide in the first movie. He recognises the name from the grave he saw, and she says that proves Alex wasn't crazy, and Toulon is connected to the place. But if they knew the name from Alex, and it was a reason they came here, why didn't Patrick recognise it earlier?
And just because Toulon was real, doesn't mean Alex wasn't crazy. If he came to the inn, he very well could have seen the cemetary, and the grave, and worked it into his delusions. Just playing devil's advocate here.
My logic train gets derailed when Camille signals everyone with a scream. She tels that she saw *ahem* little demons, and one of them had a knife. Yay, Blade!
They all rush upstairs to the scene of the crime, but all they find when they get there is a pair of regular raggedy dolls. The team rightly mocks Camille for being scared by dolls.
After the scare, and knowing what she saw, Camille decides to leave, urging the others to do the same. As she's packing, the power goes out except for one convenient light over a bust that's supposed to be glowing eerily. Camille starts talking to it, and he's probably the best conversationalist in the movie.
While she's distracted, Pinhead pulls his favourite trick and yanks the legs out from under her. And finally, Jester actually does something and gags her.
Pinhead starts to drag her off, and I have a huge problem with this scene. Her eyes are open. She's murmuring. She is clearly concious. Why not just...get up? She's not tied up, she's just being dragged by something that's not even knee high. All she has to do is grab and through the puppet. That's not so hard on your back, is it? She still has ample leverage, and he's quite light. Even if he's super strong, he's still only holding a hand. Just stand up!
She finally starts kicking as she passes through the door but...just stand up! He's only a puppet! Cute and teeny, but deadly puppets! Lay on your back and put a five pound weight in one of your hands, and see for yourself how easy it is to do pretty much anything you want.
At least the rest of the team actually looks for her, and doesn't assume she's just at a party like the gang in Freakmaker.
While most of them sleep, Lance keeps an eye on the surveillance equipment. At least in theory, but Wanda comes by and distracts him. He eventually glances back at the screen and sees a door is suddenly open. He runs the feed back and sees Tunneler entering.
There's no time to go through the whole "Holy crap! Walking puppets!" phase and they rush to the open room, but by the time they get their, Tunneler is already crawling over Patrick's unconcious body.
Sadly they're too late to stop Patrick's trepanning session, but Lance does yank the puppet off and fling him against the wall. To play it safe, he then proceeds to beat the puppet with a hefty metal lamp stand. If that wasn't a stunt puppet, that is coming out of his paycheck.
Carolyn finally arrives and gives an Oscar-losing performance at the sight of her dead brother. She demands the puppet be remove, and Lance gingerly plucks it off the floor between two fingers like he expects to get puppet cancer from it.
They start to pick apart the puppet, and are amazed at how he works. Or more appropriately, amazed at how they have zero clue at how he works. Wanda thinks that Patrick's death may lead them to one of the most important discoveries of their time. Maybe so, but it ain't no iPad, lady.
As they're trying to figure out what Tunneler is, the team is interupted by a man clad all in black, and bandaged up pretty heavily. He claims to be Eriquee Chanee, the most overly voweled man in North America.
Eriquee claims to be the true owner of the hotel, but he has no proof, no documentation, no paper trail to back him up. He also claims to have been in Bucharest trying to fix whatever the bandages are covering up. Yeah, they don't have a fix for being dead over there, pal!
I do like that Lance calls him Cheney. After Lon Cheney. Not the other one that ran the US for eight years.
The hotel is becoming quite a busy place as someone else rolls up on a motorcycle. At least this one knocks. This is Michael, the missing Camille's son. Carolyn tells him about her dead brother, and shows him the smashed puppet.
The movie remembers it had that whole farmer subplot, and Blade easily slices through their electric fence. While the couple sleeps, they get visited by Leech Woman, whose antics wake up the wife. She rolls over just in time to see her husband's brain being removed. Not that there was much there to begin with, but whatever works for them.
Like any good redneck, there's a shotgun on the wall, and the wife uses it against Leechy. That lasts about as long as it takes Blade to scamper across their dirty, planky floor and slice at the woman's legs. He just kinda randomly slashes her in the ankle, and I would have liked to see him go for the Achillies.
She actually manages to capture Leech Woman after the pair of them stalk each other around the room. The farmwoman wastes no time tossing the puppet into the wood stove, where the flames make short work of her. This movie is clearing the decks of old puppets almost as fast as Transformers: the Movie.
Speaking of TF the movie, much like that tossed out old characters to make room for new ones, just as the woman retrieves the shotgun, she's introduced to the latest replacement puppet; Torch. Guess what he does! Oh, the poetic justice of a crispy fried farmer.
Blade watches as the woman runs around on fire, and I'm not sure if he's amused or horrified at his newest family member. Up 'til now, the puppets have been killers, but rarely malicious. They just did their job and was done with it, as well as being pretty basic devices. Sure they stab and break and poke, but burninating someone to death, and gleefully doing so, is a whole new level of badness. Torch is a flamethrower on legs, and there's a different kind of savagery to him because of that. And I'm going to stop now before I ponder the allegorical nature of weapons advancement in the Puppet Master series.
The puppets bring the piece of brain from the wife back to Toulon...er, Eriquee! who is busy talking with the puppets who didn't go grocery shopping. They're all eager for them to return, since the sooner they have all the ingredients, the sooner they will be back to full strength.
Sadly, Torch's overzealousness cooked the brains, and while that might be a delicacy in some places, it makes them useless in Toulon's formula.
As Toulon puts the puppets to bed for the night, his gaze falls upon a poster from his days as a genuine puppeteer, and the movie flashes back to a time when the world was not in colour.
In 1912 Egypt, Toulon is givng a puppet performance of Faust, with Blade's proto puppet as the devil. It's weird seeing him without the hat and trenchcoat. And with real hands!
A stranger in the audience suddenly gets a catch light shone in his eyes, and that angers him so much that the puppet show catches on fire. Much to Toulon's dismay, what with it being his livelihood and all.
Toulon and his wife Carolyn, er Elsa, go to meet the man, not knowing he's the mental arsonist who torched their source of income, and he shows them a puppet without strings. He talks Toulon into learning his secrets by convincing him that it is for the children's sake, since it will make them more interested in the puppets. Yes, because dabbling in the black arts for the good of children is such a great idea.
After the brief diversionary infodump, it's back to the modern world of 1991 where Michael and Carolyn have a brief conversation with 'Eriquee' on the cliffside before going off in search of Camille. And since Elsa and Carolyn are played by the same actress, the bandaged dude is all the creepier at his supposedly recincarnated wife.
Meanwhile, a kid is practising to become a sado-masochist since he's off in the woods whipping his soldier dolls. He's interupted in his dom training when Torch shows up. The kid quickly kicks the lame old toy aside in favour of the cool animatronic model.
The kid starts poking and prodding the poor puppet, much to his obvious chagrin. He's not too impressed with Torch's inability to follow orders, and begins whipping him as well. And if there's one thing in the entire universe that can only end in fire, this is it.
Forunately they shy away from actually showing the kid get charbroiled on camera.
While that's going on, Michael and Carolyn are busy snogging since that was inevitable, and Toulon is visiting his slightly less executional puppets. Jester once again seems to be relegated to sitting around and doing nothing. At least this time it's a plot point of the puppets growing weaker as the formula used to give them life is wearing out after decades of use.
He begins ranting about his Elsa being alive, and how grateful he is to his puppets and how he shall soon make them their old selves again. Now, it's unclear of he means just giving them renewed strentgh of their early days with the new formula, or if there might be plans to make them humanlike once more. It's a moot point to ponder really, but still.
Back in the security room, Carolyn is analysing the readouts on screens of Tunneler's inner workings. Readouts which are completely meaningless and fascinating the more you look at them. It's flashing! And there's words! What does it mean? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
The undead love triangle continues as Michael is busy trying to woo Carolyn with brandy and music, but Toulon interupts them and gets the first dance with his arisen wife. I somehow doubt Carolyn will choose the creepy, bandaged dude over the handsome, hunky writer with a motorcycle. Even if she IS a reincarnated Elsa.
When Mike cuts in, Toulon throws a tantrum (What do you expect from someone who plays with dolls?) and breaks a record, and storms off. This only makes Carolyn want to see what he's really up to in his rooms.
If the dancing made Toulon break a record, I hope he never rents this DVD, since Carolyn and Mike jump right to having sex immediately after. I can only imagine what he'd break if he saw that.
Probably necks. Yeah, necks sounds good.
Brief aside, I'm amused at how Lance has all but disappeared since Michael arrived on his crotch rocket.
Fortunately, Toulon is too busy gathering ingredients from his minions to notice the rutting. He thanks them for being dilligent and harvesting parts from living people, since to do anything else would be unpredictable, to say the least. Each of the puppets gets this look of horror on their face, and Blade stops them from saying anything. Or something, since they don't really talk. Either way, it's clear they've been lazy.
And since Michael's a problem, Toulon sends Torch to take care of loverboy. So much for trying to keep a low profile. How many reviews have I said that during?
Wanda (Remember her?) has left her post watching the monitors to go bang Lance, which is kinda what I suspect they've been doing most of the movie to kill time off camera. Someone sneaks in the door, but before we can see which puppet it is, Wanda feels guilty about leaving the monitors unwatched, which is how Patrick got ganked. So she goes to get Carolyn on duty.
She quickly hurries back when Lance's lights go out and he makes some noise. Wanda flicks the lights on and sees Blade sitting on the bed and cutting into Lance. Blade turns and hops off the bed, running after the girl and slashing away at the air. Truth be told, the puppet effects are actually really slick here, especially for the time and budget this movie was made. He looks very believable, and I remember being really creeped out by the running puppet.
Blade slashes up her face like they're Alpha and Whiskey, and the next thing we see is their grey matter being dumped into Toulon's secret recipe for cream of mushroom soup.
Carolyn wakes up and sees Toulon back out by the cliffside, and decides there is no better time to go check out his room and see what Eriquee has been up to. Besides the banning of all consonants.
Hilariously, she throws on a translucent robe to cover up her nightgown, because that will stop people from seeing anything. And will surely keep her warm. On top of that, she wears it more like a wrap hanging off her arms than like a proper robe over her shoulders. Ahh, gratuitous sexuality. At least after an edit she's wearing it normally, but still not the best covering.
Anyways, she creeps into Toulon's atticy rooms, but the bandaged wonder isn't far behind. Either she moves really slowly, or he ran really fast from the seaside when he remembered he left his stove on.
She doesn't really find much of anything besides puppet pieces, but that alone should be ringing alarm bells considering the little science experiment that killed her brother. As well as Toulon's performance posters. If the pieces rang alarm bells, that should set off gigantic red klaxxons, but she keeps poking around, until she opens a closet and finds the creepiest mannequins ever, or gigantic puppet versions of Toulon and herself.
Elsewhere, Torch is busy with Michael and sets his bed on fire. Mikey doesn't like it and rolls off it quick enough to not catch fire himself. And let it never be said that Full Moon isn't about equality. Sure they have their fair share of bare breasts, but right here in Puppet Master 2, you get to watch a completely bare-assed Michael try and put out a fire.
While Toulon is preparing his giant sized action figures and ranting about reincarnation, Michael flees his room but quickly runs right into Blade. Fortunately, the set designer put a fire extinguisher around the corner from where he hid. Mike grabs it an sprays down Torch and then bowls him over with it.
As he continues to slowly rush to Carolyn's rescue, Pinhead swings in on a chandelier and clobbers Mike right in the face. Once the boy toy is on the ground, the toy boy jumps on top of him and commences strangling Michael.
Unlike his mom, Michael actually remembers he is bigger, stronger, and has better leverage than a puppet. As well as still being able to move despite a minor inconvenience, and tosses Pinhead into a few walls until he stops.
Toulon peels off his bandages at last, and understandably freaks out Carolyn. Mike is still running through all the halls of the biggest hotel ever, and this time Blade pops up to slow him down. Now really, if anyone can do anything to a person it should be Stabby McHooksalot, but he never even gets in a single slice. He doesn't need strength, he has speed, and should have at least gotten in a slash before he's tossed. Mike would have been understandably surprised, and at least his fingers could've been cut before he got rid of Blade.
The puppet master continues to ramble on about the plot and Elsa, and everything he's suffered through now being worthwhile that he'll be reunited with her. Carolyn tries to reason with him and say that reincarnation isn't possible. Yeah, probably the wrong guy to try that reasoning on, and he points that out that he's living proof of life after death.
Huh. I need to ponder that phrase over a bit.
The puppets gather around and watch as Toulon drinks his formula and slashes his throat into a funnel that feeds his blood into his puppety likeness.
Toulon's new form stands up, pleased at his newfound immortality, until he squeals like a pig. He knows the puppets got lazy with some of the animal parts and it affected the formula. Still, he's immortal at least, so he can deal with this. Hey, he's a giant walking doll. I think people will have enough issues getting past that before they get to oinking.
Carolyn spits out and wastes her own goblet of formula, and Michael finally shows up, fasionably late. Toulon plans to use the last of the formula, intended for the puppets, to try again with Carolyn, but that just makes his creations rebel. The puppet masters in these movies need to stop betraying their minions. They don't take it well.
And credit where it's due, at least Jester is the one who scampers off with the goblet, so at least he's doing something.
Michael and Carolyn run the heck out of there while the toys take out their puppet vengeance on Toulon and start smashing him. Torch finishes the job and sets the dollman ablaze.
While that would normally be the end, we find Carolyn and Michael at his mother's grave, talking about how the puppets and evidence has gone missing, and his mother's dead body was found in the attic with her throat slashed. Mike wants to believe his mother is out there somewhere, but Carolyn convinces him that whatever is out there is no longer his mother.
But there is something out there, as a van pulls off to the side of the road and we see the animated Elsa puppet dressed like a clown trying to decipher directions. The puppets and their new Puppet Mistress drive off to entertain children at a mental hospital.
Video: To put it bluntly, pretty awful. Very direct to video, very cheaply made. The DVD is grainy, and dark, and just does not look good at all. I expect more from 1991 entertainment.
Audio: Again, nothing special, and it dips low on occasion, but not as distractingly bad as the video.
Special Features: As with the rest of Full Moon's catalog, the VideoZone featurette from the original video release. This was the first one where they really expanded the VideoZones with even more information on the movies, and stuff that's coming. A really good look for the time, but left me wanting more.
Best Line: Nothing jumped out at me. I may come back to this at some point.
First Kill: The movie finally sheds blood 24 minutes in when Tunneler pays a visit to a sleeping Patrick, which he needed like another whole in the head.
Best Kill: A lot of the kills were pretty brief, but I've got to go with the farmer's wife, Martha. She fought back, there was some cat and mouse, she even took out some puppets, and hey. I'm a sucker for a good immolation.
Blood Type: There's a lot of death, but not a lot of blood. But there's a few splashes here and there.
Sex Appeal: What the movie lacks in blood, it makes up for in boobs. Wanda has a lengthy topless scene, and Carolyn wanders around in her nightie for quite awhile. And a little something for the ladies with shirtless Mike for the last third of the movie, as well as being completely starkers for a bit.
Movie Rating: This surprisingly has a fairly coherent plot. It makes general sense, with a few plot holes and jumps in logic. It's well made and tells its story from A to B. It is a bit rushed though, and made on the cheap. But you can't fault the effects and effort, so it's a very solid three out of five cooked brains.
Entertainment Rating: It's got murderous puppets, cheesy dialogue, overacting, and plot to laugh at. What's not to love? For a fun Friday night popcorn flick, it's hard to go wrong with Puppet Master 1 or 2. Four out of five disected puppets.