Puppet Master 5 (1994)
WRITERS: Screenplay by Steven E. Carr, Jo Duffy, Todd Henschell, and Doug Aarniokoski & Keith Payson
DIRECTOR: Jeff Burr
STARRING: Gordon Currie as Rick Meyers
Chandra West as Susie
Ian Ogilvy as Jennings
Teresa Hill as Lauren
Nicholas Guest as Hendy
Willard Pugh as Jason
Duane Whitaker as Scott
Guy Rolfe as Andre Toulon
QUICK CUT: More puppets, more demon puppets, more stabby action. You get the drill by now, right? This picks up shortly after Puppet Master 4, and finishes up the half baked, half finished plot of that movie. Just like Harry Potter!
THE GUTS: The time has come at last to delve into what is basically the last movie of the proper Puppet Master cycle. After this there's a Curse, things get Retro, and then there's a prequel that came out recently. But this right here is the big wrap up to the original block of films, and the final one to be numbered.
Since the last movie ended on an annoying cliffhanger and was half a story, this movie naturally picks up nowhere near that point, and instead we find our new Puppet Master, Rick, in prison and being mocked by the cops.
They've dragged him in for questioning in regards to all the people who died in the fourth movie, so at least we're dealing with outstanding plot threads.
The cop connects the dots between the deaths at Omega, and Rick working for them, and asks if Rick thinks they're all idiots at the station. Well, considering you just mentioned Rick graduated from MIT at 14, then yeah. Compared to him, you probably are.
Rick is shown some footage of Dr. Leslie's murder from the first movie, from an entirely different angle, and never showing her face. But still badly acting against a puppet. So you can figure they didn't bother to pay the actress for security camera footage, yeah.
The cop continues to actually do a good job by noticing Leslie is always looking down at the floor, and we never see the assailant. Rick sticks to his story of the creatures from Sutek, which is sure to go over real well. Especially when the cop dumps the Blade puppet onto the interrogation room table. Oooh yeah, that doesn't look good when they bring out a tiny robot with stabby hands.
And then the movie shifts into flashback gear, as Rick narrates five minutes of footage from the previous movie. My synopsis was more thorough and entertaining.
I do like Rick saying that the coming of Sutek's teeny minions are a nightmare he didn't believe at first, when he's already running around with Toulon's crew. Odd place to draw the believability line. MY puppets are totally believable and credibile, but no way will I believe someone else has them!
Around this time, Full Moon got into this annoying habit of splitting their movies into two and padding them out, and it got annoying. The first part of the split films never felt complete, and very unsatisfying, and while there is resolution in the final part, it needs a lot of fluff to reach a decent run time. Even though it's only 80 minutes long, there's STILL five minutes of flashbacks. At least they didn't start the movie with them, and instead eased you in, almost making inserting them at a natural point. But still, this is not a good way to make a story. Lord of the Rings at least made each movie feel like a whole story with a focus with continuing threads, for the most part.
Once the movie is back in the present, Blade is placed in an evidence locker, but that doesn't last long. While he's busting out, Rick gets bailed out by Omega, and calls Susie to come pick up him up. And hey, how come Rick is the only person in an orange jumpsuit? Yes, it's an easy way to signify criminal for the lazy production staff, but I would expect there to be someone else somewhere in the station with one.
Blade is busy slinking around the evidence room, and oh how I long for the old days. The puppets have been so toned down. Back in the day, Blade would have hacked the cop on duty into tiny pieces. Just on principle. Just for breathing! But no. Instead, Blade sits and waits patiently to sneak out the door. The goodification of the puppets has totally defanged them. And all Blade has is fangs!
Meanwhile, Rick meets with an administrator from Omega, who wants to hear Rick's story for himself. Thankfully when he asks for the story, we don't get more flashback. But yes, you can imagine how well he takes Rick's story of ancient demons seeking the magic of Toulon.
Still, Dr. Jennings is rather accepting of Rick's crazy story, and all the kid has to do is say he hasn't slept in a few days, and the question period is over. So Rick meets Susie in the waiting area, and Blade hops in her bag. Overall, that's about 18 minutes of recap we didn't quite need. Rick's time in jail was only there for recapping purposes, and is never mentioned again. The whole scene serves no purpose other than recapping, and jumping to a sex scene. Or an almost sex scene, since just as things tease becoming interesting, Suzy stops and goes away.
Down in the underworld, Sutek is plotting his next move, and says that Toulon has not yet escaped. Considering he died fifty years prior, um, yeah, he kinda did? Sure, his face appears occasionally on Decapitron, but does that really count? Really?
The movie ducks into a thrilling scene of beaurocracy as Jennings meets with some other people to discuss funding for the Omega project, but they've denied all funding from the Pentazzzzzzzzzz.
Next we...wait, what? I know I dozed off for a bit there, but I didn't miss THAT much! We're suddenly in a bathroom with Tunneler drilling a very goth Susie's head, while Pinhead keeps her there. The tub's water has turned red from the blood, and there are toys swimming about in the crimson suds.
I'm about ready to complain that they go ahead and waste time to pad the film with flashbacks, and not elaborate on this, when it turns out to be a nightmare of Rick's.
Of course, when you have a little knifey puppet that likes to sneak up on you, I can see how nightmares might be part of the daily routine at the Bodega Bay Inn. And a little aside, I love when Blade gives casual tips of his hat. The puppets are often the best actors in these movies, and they literally are wooden!
While Susie visits the still comatose Lauren at the hospital, Jennings gathers some goons to break into the hotel and find the other puppets for his own nefarious goals. Namely lining his bank account. Oh, and Lauren? She's only in this movie to be in a coma. She does nothing substantial, save for the occasional sitting up in bed, screaming, and going comatose again.
Meanwhile, Sutek is still trying to bring his own latest creation to life as the movie vamps to fill more time. But we do get the important point that this puppet will be powered by Sutek's own will and power, basically an extension of himself, like Toulon's puppets are resurrected people he knew, and Decapitron is Toulon himself.
Which means they probably WON'T have Mini Sutek fight Decapitoulon. Because that would make sense.
Jennings and his thugs break into the hotel, as Six Shooter watches. I gotta say, these guys are only in this movie as cannon fodder, aren't they? This plot will go absolutely nowhere, and serve only to supply the movie with a body count. Sure, you can say that about many casts in many horror movies, but rarely is it so obvious. They have no personality, the movie bends over backwards to find some way to bring these characters in, simply to put them in the way of puppets.
Rick stuffs Blade under a coat so they can go get their friends back from the hotel, and I love that they take the time to have Rick yelp in pain from all of Blade's sharp bits.
This section of movie is almost annoying. It's three seperate stories, Rick's journey, Sutek bringing his toy to life with his essence, and the shennanigans of Jennings and his friends. They jump between each section pretty quickly, only barely advancing each section, if at all. Totally stalling for time here, and they stall for quite a bit.
But stuff does happen, if slowly. Jennings' men do find the puppets, and chase them into the vents. They then smartly split up for better killing...I mean, searching of floors. One of the goons asks if the puppets are dangerous, and Jennings just brushes them off. I hope he's just lying to calm them down, because he DID see the video tape of what he thinks is a puppet committing murder.
Oh right, I forgot the fourth story of Lauren in he coma. But she's still doing nothing but laying there and feeling psychic pain. Seriously, no need for her in this movie, other than she was in the last one and didn't die.
Plotlines ever so slowly converge as Rick shows up at the hotel, and sends Blade off to find his friends. Which is probably smart, since the guy has lived their for five mov...er, decades.
Sutek helps things along by finally getting the batteries installed in his new toy, and sending him through the portal to the 'upworld'. At least we can finally have things happening again, now that all our players are in the same place.
While Lauren finally wakes up screaming for a second, Rick putters around his hotel lab waiting for Blade. He tries to use the computer, but didn't check if the keyboard was plugged in, since he's not getting any response from it. The computer then starts spitting out gibberish and typing "help me" on the screen. Even the computer wants out of this movie.
Our obligatory Dead Bro Walking finally stumbles upon something useful, the strange Ouija board with pyramid crystal from the last movie. He looks inside the nearby puppet chest, and finds the mini Sutek. It quickly kills him, and glows bright yellow and does something they never explain. I suspect this is the new movie's version of soul sucking.
Rick continues to have computer issues, while another of Jennings' men finds Pinhead. He gets punched immediately for calling the puppet ugly. And meanwhile, Lauren is asleep yet again. Did we need to see that?
Blade has apparently found Six-Shooter off screen, and he fills in Rick on the locations of the other puppets by hilariously pointing in every direction. He also tells his Puppet Master that they have company, so they're off to find the rest of the puppets. Again. Or still.
Goon #2 keeps looking for Pinhead, and finds him in the kitchen. He tries beating the puppet off the shelf he climbed up on, and the cannon fodder is completely oblivious to Jester on the bottom shelf. Oblivious that is, until Jester cracks him in the knee with a tenderizer hammer.
Once again, I cheer that he gets to do something.
In the hallways, Goon #3 finds the mini Sutek and it's not long before he's dead too. But not before he somehow falls to the ground so the tiny legged creature can actually manage to catch him. Seriously, he just collapses on the ground and starts screaming before the puppet is anywhere near him.
Susie arrives on the scene, and just barely misses catching Pinhead stashing Goon #2 in an elevator. Wait, when did he go unconscious? Or is he dead? This is not clear. Last we saw, he was whacked in the knee, and Jester standing over him. Did he then bludgeon the poor guy? We eventually find out he was knocked out, and see the gash on his head. Might've been nice to see that. It's not like the movie was too long.
This movie has literally been nearly ten minutes, if not more! of people wandering around the hotel shouting out various names of the people or puppets their looking for. It's like the last 30 minutes of any of Michael Bay's Transformers movies. This is getting old. The only thing keeping it lively is the body count.
Speaking of which, it's Jennings' turn to find the killer Egyptian demon doll.
Fortunately for the bastard, Torch is there to save the day. And just as fortunate that Jennings has better legs than his other guy that got killed by tripping over his shoelaces. Remember when Blade almost charbroiled a kid, and now he's saving people?
The fire doesn't really stop it though, since the Mini Sutek stops just before hitting it, and Torch doesn't think of taking three steps forward to get the flames close enough. That would be inconvenient to the plot. Sutek Lite zaps Torch with yellow lightning, and the puppet falls over like a badly supported Jenga tower.
Six-Shooter is right there with his brother though, and opens fire. They at least allow him to hit the thing, which is a plus. I suppose setting your expensive prop on fire is more of a problem than shooting it.
Rick is running around looking for Susie, and I don't know how he knows she's even there, aside from reading ahead in the script. Instead of his girlfriend, he runs into Jennings, bringing the plot threads closer and closer together.
And like two plotlines passing in the night, Rick and Jennings go their seperate ways. The Puppet Rickster randomly finds his girlfriend in his lab, because it is no longer convenient to keep them apart. The door to the lab closes on its own, and the computer begins to act up some more.
The computer keeps begging for help, and Obi Lauren Kenobi tries thinking really hard, sending the message, "Use the formula, Rick!" Quick, you're her only hope! And thus she makes her biggest contribution to the plot.
After finding more puppets, Jennings runs into the lab where Rick has decoded the messages enough to know they're coming from Lauren through the computer. And then it starts speaking in her voice. Fff, she could've done that 30 minutes ago.
Jennings is ready to take the puppets and leave, but Rick has to stop Sutek, which is good, since otherwise the plot would be cut short. Susie asks what about Lauren...she does know coma girl is only speaking through the computer, right? She's not really there, and is safe and sound at a hospital who knows how far away.
Jester arrives to tell Rick where Deacpitron is, because the puppets hid the new guy. If by 'hid' they mean, 'stuck him in a box right under the computer'. I suspect this is more of a hazing ritual for the freshman puppets.
They start hooking Decapitron up to charge him again, and I have to wonder why we have to go through this a second time? Rick even points out they've done this before. Isn't he already alive? I will admit I may have forgotten something since I watched PM 4 awhile ago, but this really seems like little more than increased padding, a means to add a ticking clock to the tension while they wait for Decapitron to come online and save the day.
Meanwhile, Pinhead has been chasing their pest problem, and loses Sutek when he phases through a doorway, confounding the strongman. He stands there for several minutes, fortunately off screen, pounding at the door. After catching its breath, the mini me jumps back through the door and pounces Pinhead. Puppet fight!
Fortunately, it's Blade to the rescue as he yanks the monster off Pinhead. But when he tries to stick the pig, the thing just phases again, and leaps away through the ceiling, leaving behind two very confused puppets. It's a nice touch to give the creature some new and unique powers, to give it an advantage over our heroes.
Rick yells how its not working, but all the power switches are on, and everything seems to be fine. Until oh look, things suddenly work now, for no reason, and not because anyone did anything. Just because they needed to kill time and the plot is ready for Decapitoulon. Sigh.
Decapitron goes all Toulon again, so he can give us the plot, and tell his successor to get the heck out of Dodge. He says the puppets will delay the *snicker* dark fairy so the humans can escape.
Having seen the realisation of his Omega Project come to fruition with Toulon's puppets, Jennings wants to take one, but Rick does his best to stop him. He knows that if even one puppet is taken, Sutek will continue to hunt for it. Won't he still look if the puppets are still in the hotel? He'll just have an easier trip, won't he?
Goon #2 continues the trend of stumbling through hallways and yelling for people who aren't there, while the three characters with a clue get into an elevator. Jennings says fine to leaving the puppets behind, but that was too quick a turnaround. Did he stick one down his pants?
Sutek finally puts the goon out of our misery, making it a cannon fodder trifecta for the little guy. And I love that the body is left right in front of the elevator, and no one notices it through the meshing and gates. It was so important for him to wake up and get killed by someone not one of our puppets.
Jennings finally turns on the others and tries to bean them with his flashlight, which doesn't so much come out of nowhere, but seems oddly timed. He clearly had no intention of leaving the puppets. Was he just waiting for a plot convenient time to turn? Sticking a puppet down his pants actually makes more sense than this.
Jennings and Rick fight in the elevator, accidentally sending it back upstairs. Since Rick is a nerd, and not a ruthless businessman, the fight doesn't last long. He gets knocked out, and Jennings finds his puppets pretty quick when he steps out of the elevator and finds Decapitron and Jester waiting.
Torch and Tunneler show up as well, and the doctor doesn't notice Pinhead opening the elevator door behind him, now opening to a giant pit while Rick's unconscious body heads downstairs. Decapitron's head turns into Jennings to yell at him, and its an odd choice. Why not Toulon again? Can it become anyone's head? Why Jennings? Where's my coffee?
Jennings says they're only puppets, but has he failed to notice the drill bit? The blowtorches? The morphing heads? The dead bodies? At least he finally shows fear once Tunneler starts whirring.
He continues backing away from the threatening puppets until he backs right where you'd expect, and falls down on top of the elevator car. So, the puppets technically killed him, but only by making him walk backwards, and not really doing anything on their own. Lamest death the puppets have tangentially been connected to.
Decapitron puts on a new head he pulled out of nowhere, and scans the entire area for the Sutek puppet. Boy, it would've been nice to do THAT two movies ago!
Of course, once they replace the new scanning head with the gimp mask, and he becomes Toulon for a moment to relay orders, it's not exactly a big surprise to learn that Sutek is going after the Puppet Master. I could've told you that without replacing my head at all!
Decpaitron shows up downstairs with his blasting head, and he and Sutek yell at each other and posture. So yay, we do get a Toulon and Sutek fight, even if it is through proxies. This feels, oddly appropriate.
Rick and Susie run as far and as fast as they can, as the special effects battle begins. Lightning of various colours! Gunshots! Flying puppets!
After Six-Shooter takes him out, I love that Blade actually pokes Sutek to see if he's dead. He's not of course, and at least Jester gets to do something by being the one to notice it. But then Blade gets blasted across the room for not finishing off their enemy.
Sutek gets knocked around a bit more, landing at Blade's feet. Before he can finish him off again, Sutek rises and zaps Blade once more. But this time, nothing happens. He's used up his powers on this plane. Except he didn't, because he then makes a portal out of there.
The creature claims that once the portal is open, it cannot be closed until he passes through it, so while his escape cannot be allowed, it also cannot be prevented. At least, that's what Sutek thinks, until Decapitron starts pumping electricity through the swirling green vortex.
Somehow, through means I cannot begin to explain, this causes an explosion that takes out the entire lobby, and is so large that it wakes up Lauren for a moment. Nice of the movie to toss out new rules at the end of the film with these portals, and then change them immediately just to end things.
Rick comes back inside and crushes the head of the charred Sutek doll underneath his sneaker. And there's a great goof when they do an extreme low angle shot of Rick, and you can see the ceiling and room around him, showing that everything's perfectly fine, utterly betraying the destruction we just saw.
The movie could have easily ended there, but we cut to Susie on a morning jog, and coming home to Rick working on the puppets. Everyone seems ok, but Decapitron isn't working so well, the energy he expended plus the explosion must have done a number on him.
Oh, and Susie goes to take a shower, and laughingly tells Pinhead not to peek this time. That's way more creepy than something you should just laugh off, I would think.
Toulon sends one final message to Rick, passing the torch, again, and wrapping up the main Puppet Master series. The puppets have journeyed from evil to good, the secrets of the reanimation forumla have been passed on, and are in good hands, and the future is wide open for the puppets to fight evil. Bah.
Video: Well...it looks better than Oblivion did, but that's not saying much. Again, you have to consider the source. These DVDs were made from some pretty poor masters used to make VHS tapes, if not VHS itself. It looks ok for something direct to video from the 90s, but not much better.
Audio: More of the same. Although, for a stereo mix from an older, low budget source, it's pretty solid. The voices are clear, and uses the available space well enough. Could be better, but isn't terrible. Probably better than the video, considering where it comes from.
First Blood: Not for an entire 42 minutes, more than half the movie. I'm not counting the redone footage of Dr. Leslie from the last movie. Our first death is so unremarkable, I can't even tell you if it was Scott or Jason that died. And I don't care to check.
Best Corpse: Surprisingly, no one. All the deaths of Jennings and his goons are entirely unremarkable, and barely visible. They're all slashed up in the shadows, except for Jennings who dies by falling. Yawn.
Sound Byte: When a cop sees Blade, "That sure ain't no G.I. Joe!"
Blood Type - D: More yawn. The movies have been steadily toned down, and there is almost no blood in this movie, and what little there is, gets smeared on people's faces. Nothing of note here.
Sex Appeal: Remember when the Puppet Master movies would have naked people of all kinds? Yeah, those days are long gone.
Movie Rating: If you've been paying attention, the Puppet Master movies have tended towards getting worse with each release. This one is probably about equal with #4, but is bad in different ways. #4 is bad because it's incomplete, and while this movie you can watch on its own, almost, and it wraps things up, the threat is unimpressive. Part 1 has a bunch of Sutek's minions coming through and wreaking havoc, but the stakes don't get raised in part 2. In fact, they get lessened. All the puppets have to deal with is one lone puppet, and he's never quite sold as a serious threat. Imagine if they had to take on Sutek himself, in our world? Or an army of puppets with powers beyond our heroes? The phasing was a nice start that never went anywhere. Jennings minions are just cannon fodder, and never really meet our own puppets, they just get whacked off by Sutek. Beyond that, the movie is just poorly and cheaply made. The original PM movie was a triumph of independence. It was a small movie that did a lot, and showed what could be done with a small budget, cementing the direct to video market. And then Full Moon just started shoving movies out the door as fast as they could, as cheaply as they could. The quality suffered a LOT, and this movie is emblematic of that. It has its moments, but still pretty bad. Two out of five sequels.
Entertainment Value: Pretty much ditto everything I said above, and in previous reviews. The fun is gone from this series. It has a better story, and some ok moments, and it is always fun to see the puppets...but they don't really do anything anymore. They're good guys. They stand there and look threatening, but then are supposed to save the day. The best stuff with them is the subtlety of their acting, which I still really like. But the creativity is gone. There's no new puppet, it's short, it's bloodless, it is half formed ideas crammed out into a half movie. And having half a dozen writers did not help the quality or the fun. The killer puppets have been turned into a fun family movie. Characters are here for no purpose, the plot is paper thing. I have almost nothing good to say about Puppet Master 5. Two out of five girls in comas.