Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)

OCTOBER 12, 2012


Charles Band was clearly just trolling when he opted to name this movie Puppet Master: The Legacy, as it's another entry that serves only to tarnish the "legacy" of his premiere franchise. Basically a clip show with about 20-25 minutes of new footage, the only reason the movie seems to exist is to sort out the chronology for... someone. Newcomers, I guess? Fans who had gotten confused thanks to all of the flashback entries like III and Retro? I honestly have no idea. Maybe Band had two actors and an extra day with a set and figured he could make something out of it. Come to think of it, that's actually probably EXACTLY what it was.

Depressingly enough, it's actually the most entertaining entry since PM4, as it shows the best scene from each movie and thus technically has more puppet action than any of the others. The new scenes involve a badass spy of some sort demanding the secret formula from the new Puppet Master, who turns out is the grown up version of Eric (the kid from PM3), and he tells the stories of the other movies (in crazily specific detail!) just to kill time, I guess. Seriously, I have no idea why he thinks she needs to hear about Rich and his computer program, or the full performance of Toulon's "Divine Comedy" play from Retro. Though at least in the former's case we get some closure - she explains that she found him and the other survivors from PM5 and killed them so she could obtain Toulon's diary. So that's the other thing the movie provides - it fills in some of the narrative holes that occur every time a sequel just does its own thing instead of picking up where the last one left off.

If only it were better assembled! I can forgive the rather random clip selection, but not the fact that Band doesn't even fade or use color desaturation to show us the difference between present day (new footage) and flashback (old). Hell even the sound just awkwardly cuts out in between, as if they had just put the clips in as placeholders for an actual editing process that they never bothered to complete. It also lacks an end credit sequence; the film ends abruptly enough as is (Eric fires a shot at Blade/the camera, and it fades to white), but instead of traditional credits, we just get a message thanking the cast and crew who helped to make the franchise such a success. My guess? Band didn't want to try to figure out how to appropriately credit the people who actually shot/acted in 2/3s of the movie (and he certainly didn't pay them), so this was a workaround. And of all the kill scenes in the second film, did they really have to use the one where you can see a guy's hand grabbing at a lamp prop to keep it from breaking?

I had to laugh at one of the flashbacks though, because it was the only way to deflate some of the pressure that was building in my brain on its way to exploding. While the flashback to old Toulon telling the story from Retro is fine, I literally had to pause the movie and digest a similar example. Either because they wanted to save time or they were just being lazier than usual, when they get to Puppet Master 4, it's not actually from 4 but from Puppet Master 5's own flashback of 4. So now I'm sitting here, watching someone from Puppet Master 8 tell the story of someone from Puppet Master 5 tell the story of Puppet Master 4. And some of you ask me why I'm quitting next year! It's times like this I feel like Dumbledore at the end of the 6th Harry Potter, begging to stop having to drink that liquid while Harry (you guys) forces him to keep going...

I was also kind of charmed by how convoluted the mythology of this series is, as well as how they try to give it a continuity but screw it up more often than not. Like, at the end of Retro, Toulon is asked where his other puppets went, and he says it's a story for another time, as if to prove to the audience that yes, this continuity issue didn't go unnoticed... but they never have gotten around to explaining where they went. Likewise, they never tried to explain Leech Woman's reappearance, or where Six Shooter was in the first couple films, etc. It's like it has a GENERAL mythology - Toulon got the power in the early 20th century, was hunted by Nazis during WWII which is when he created many of them, they were trapped in a hotel for a while, set free... a story told across several films and out of order to boot. But they botch the specifics, which is how, for example, Toulon kills himself in 1939 in one movie but is alive and well in 1941 in another.

And of course, if you're watching these movies the day they come out and not memorizing the dates and character lineups, it probably works fine, or at least with a fluid timeline not unlike that of long-running comic books. But when they're showing the highlights to tell the whole story in 70 minutes, all these mistakes are apparent (though they DO kind of fix the discrepancy about the year of Toulon's suicide). It's also jarring to see different actors inhabit the roles, like when Guy Rolfe turns into William Hickey for a minute. In other words, there might be some series that lend themselves nicely to a full length recap, but this probably isn't one of the best.

What say you?


  1. I'm surprised that you watched and reviewed this movie for the blog because it was mainly a clip movie. Based on that fact, I think it's the poorest installment of Puppet Master franchise.

  2. Yeah I love Puppet Master. I want to get some of those awesome action figures that were made. But this movie was bad. Very disapointed in it.


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