Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)


This film is completely appropriate for the sixth entry in a horror franchise – entirely lacking in any wit or originality, made purely to cash in on a name made famous years ago, and really really boring. Oh, and the video box sort of gives away the ending.

Leech Woman, thrown in a fire and destroyed in part 2, is now back with no explanation at all, and the puppets are under the control of a completely different guy, Dr. Magrew, with the lamest possible explanation of how they got from Rick at the end of part 5 to him now. Who cares about stuff like that though? He’s in charge of a small-town puppet show, and his daughter Jane is about ready to go to college; the last of the main cast is Tank, who they meet at the local garage while he’s being bullied, then offer him a job. He’s a little simple, but is an amazing wood-carver, so he’s quickly employed designing new puppets for Magrew.


The bullies in this are so over-the-top evil that you’ll be amazed they’ve madeit to their 20s without growing horns, but luckily the town cop is just as awful as they are so nothing happens to them. Tank stops them from hassling Jane, and wouldn’t you know it but the two of them fall in love. He also takes the living puppets in his stride, even doing some repairs to Pinhead after he gets damaged protecting Jane from Bully 1.

Nothing happens in this film for the longest time. I counted, and the first seriously dramatic scene, briefly described in the last paragraph, doesn’t happen til minute 41. No puppet gets involved until minute 46, and it’s minute 50 before anyone dies. If the film were better made, I suppose I could tolerate it, but the acting is average at best and no-one is renting a Puppet Master film to see a sensitive romance between the soon-off-to-college woman and the borderline-disabled man.

The puppets are sort of back being baddies in this, I suppose, due to their new owner. He burns a puppet-sized sack at the beginning of the film, and to maintain some sense of drama for you, the potential viewer of this film, I won’t reveal it or his plans (but the picture at the top of this review will give you a clue).

Most importantly, this film is terrible. After an impressive run of five films where a level of quality was maintained that I did not expect at all, we’re right down where I expected for part 6, the first of the films to not be numbered (maybe because they’d not thought of a 666 pun for the title, which seems to be standard issue for horror). It’s really cheap looking, the direction is flat and uninteresting, and it’s so undramatic that it took me a while before I was able to remember how it ended, even though I only watched it yesterday. I’m going to go through to the end of this series, but I think afterwards we all ought to pretend that it finished with part 5.



Rise of the Zombies (2011)

Trejo watches over us all

Trejo watches over us all

It appears Asylum had some sort of revelation in 2011. They didn’t really need to rip off a specific zombie film, they could just bung the word in any old film title, despite it not making a lick of sense, and enough people would buy / rent it that they would make a profit. I did a bit of research to see if there was a big film released that year that they might have piggybacked off, but it seems not – but checking out IMDB’s list of 2011 zombie films fills me with sadness. So much wasted time! Visit this link if you want to have a look yourself, and apart from “Juan Of The Dead” it’s really slim pickings. Also look for how many of those films you’ve never heard of. Who is making all of them? Let’s put a tax on zombie makeup, or something.

They also decided to load this film with what, for the Asylum, would be considered A-list stars. Oscar nominated Mariel Hemingway, Danny Trejo, French Stewart, Levar Burton, Ethan Suplee and a couple of people who’d had recurring roles on network TV, which is like the Expendables crossed with Oceans 11 for this film company. They’re getting cleverer at shooting on location as well, so they get some pretty impressive scenes in San Fransisco, clearly taken at 5 in the morning on the day of a national holiday, for instance.

This film has the range, dialogue and character activity of a below average computer game. I’m not just being facetious either, so let’s look at the evidence. It gets right into the action – zombies are attacking people from minute one of the film, and don’t really ever let up. They’re also pretty crappy, and die at the least provocation. The main cast gets split up so you get to see a variety of different locations and battles between humans and zombies. There’s plenty of weapon variety to keep you interested. Also, everyone talks like the cut-scenes from a computer game, with stilted dialogue about the most boring topics, and there’s always a final location to get to.

The one interesting thing about this film is the speed it kills off its main cast. People you’d have expected to still be alive and kicking at the end get themselves blown up and eaten and eaten and eaten…for people who have survived at least the first bit of a zombie rising, they’re really bad at checking to see if there’s any zombies about. They’ve made a base at Alcatraz, and seem to be settled there, but for some reason zombies finally figure out they can just swim across, and suddenly one day they get swarmed by hundreds of aquatic undead. This, of course, makes no sense.

Asylum appear to have learned some lessons from criticism of their previous films, but that new knowledge has kicked some old stuff out of their brains. They’ve got a cast who can act, sort of, and the pace of the film is white-hot (especially compared to something like my previous review, “Transmorphers”). Sadly, this still doesn’t result in a decent movie. The zombies just keep on coming, and no matter how many they kill there’s still a load more. This renders all the battles sort of pointless, really. They are unafraid to kill off cast members, which is a good thing, but the way they do this is indiscriminate, so two of the storylines you might reasonably have expected to be central to the film’s ending are just wiped out a little over an hour in, rendering all the time spent with them absolutely worthless.

The rest of the film is sadly not much better. It feels like the middle section of a longer film – there’s no real beginning and there’s certainly no end, so whether they ran out of money, time or were hoping to do a sequel that never materialised, I don’t know. The zombies both shamble and run, and can climb up the side of bridges, so that’s all over the place too…

"Ethan, why did I agree to be in this terrible movie?"

“Ethan, why did I agree to be in this terrible movie?”

Two enthusiastic thumbs down for me for “Rise of the Zombies”. But before I go – why is it called what it’s called? The zombies have very definitely risen long before the movie starts, and in fact appear to have taken over the earth. Are they rising to even greater heights? AH SCREW THIS MOVIE ASYLUM YOU SUCK. Sorry, lost control for a second. This film is purely designed to show people fighting zombies in a bunch of different locations, and any incidentals like plot and characterisation are left to sneak in where they can.

Rise of the Zombies on IMDB

Buy Rise Of The Zombies [DVD]