Puppet Master 5 – The Final Chapter (1994)

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And so the “original” five films come to an end. From here on out, it’s going to be compilation films, even lower budgets, and no actors you’ve ever heard of, but this last one has the guy who runs the pawn shop in “Pulp Fiction”, the guy from “The Saint” who wasn’t Roger Moore, one of the guys from “Return of the Living Dead”, and one of the guys from “Mil Mascaras vs. The Aztec Mummy”, so you know you’re in for a good time.

For those of you who didn’t watch part 4 yesterday, we’re treated to a fairly lengthy recap and then right into the story, featuring most of the cast from the previous film. I was sort of expecting them to have been written out in some bizarre way, or just ignored, but there they are (probably to do with both films being shot concurrently). Sutekh, the demon from the last film, is there as well, and this time he sends his most powerful Totem to finish off the job, with all Sutekh’s mojo. That the process of giving him this power involves some weird hip-thrusting and an incomprehensible speech is neither here nor there. Rick and Suzie go back to the Bodega Bay Hotel to help their friends the puppets; add to that a group of thieves being led by Ian Ogilvy, one of Rick’s bosses at the biotech company, and you’ve got yourself a film.

There are signs that the filmmakers read criticism similar to mine at the time the films were in production, because there’s a little nod to the timeline issue. One of the characters says “Toulon died shortly after the War”, and when you bear in mind that he died in 1939 in the first one, 1941 in the second, and some time between 1943 and 1945 in the third, there’s a definite hint that someone at Full Moon recognised the mistake and is having a laugh alongside us. Or they’re just terrible at making films. Whatever.

"I must have been really drunk last night"

“I must have been really drunk last night”

Before I get into the main bit of this review, I want to talk about how the film seems to play fast and loose with its own continuity, again. Sutekh, in a preparation scene that goes on way too long, talks about how he’s trying to save humanity, and that Toulon is the bad guy and is trying to “escape”, although from where is never mentioned. Toulon’s original possession of the ancient scroll is the cause of every death in the films, really, but it’s never mentioned at any other point so maybe I misheard it? I replayed the scene twice, because I don’t want to misrepresent the film, but that’s the only reading I can come up with, like the scene survived from an earlier draft and no-one thought to replace it.

Ultimately, this film should have really been the last half-hour of part 4. Watching the two films together, they don’t feel like a film and its sequel. Rick has to reanimate DECAPITRON in both films, even though they’re only set a week apart and he doesn’t suffer any damage the first time. The two secondary groups in both films could easily be turned into the same group (the asshole scientist from 4 could be a corporate spy sent by Ian Ogilvy’s character), psychic girl Lauren could be written out, and given the relatively short length of both films, a bit of chopping and you’d have one much better film. I’m not trying to be an armchair quarterback here, more trying to illustrate that if I was a betting man, I’d bet on Full Moon having written it as one film originally and split it into two so they could make more money.

At the almost-halfway point of the franchise, though, I’m pretty happy with how they’ve gone. They’ve been mostly fun, and while it’s been entertaining to pick over the inconsistencies, if you watched them years apart that sort of thing wouldn’t be on your mind at all.

If any of the site’s readers want me to go on with Full Moon’s output, I’m happy to. Although the “Evil Bong” series might be a bit too much, don’t make me watch those.

DID YOU KNOW? According to IMDB, I was right about this and part 4. Originally designed as one film, which was going to be released to cinemas (all previous installments being direct-to-video affairs). I feel ever so slightly smug about it.

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