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Review: ‘Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich’ Ventures into Troma Territory



Review: ‘Puppet Master: The Littlest' Ventures into Troma Territory

There’s something very muddled about the politics of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Usually when watching a movie about trapped hotel guests being massacred by clockwork toys the political intent of the filmmakers would be the last thing on the viewer’s mind. But this film chooses the Holocaust and the resurgence of Nazism as its central theme.

This is a reboot of the franchise. Once sympathetic puppet master Andre Toulon has been retconned into a monstrous Nazi. He uses his killer creations to continue the violent persecution of minorities from beyond the grave. This is walking a dangerous line. As a fun horror movie it needs to show over the top extreme violence. At the same time it would be wrong for the audience to gain satisfaction from seeing these characters murdered because of their race or sexual orientation.

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Therefore the death scenes are made grizzly and disturbing. The practical gore effects are very impressive and graphic. Sometimes it ventures into Troma territory. Due to the extreme nature of these scenes this is the darkest and nastiest film in the entire series. It comes as no surprise that this is written by the screenwriter of Bone Tomahawk.

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Fans of the series will be pleased to know that there are plenty of new puppet designs. However the original classic puppet cast have been reimagined and look rather different. The movement of these characters mimics the charming Full Moon amateurishness of the original while still utilising modern special effects.

The film just hovers over the line between exploitation and out right bad taste. There are attempts to frame the movie as having good intentions. At one point young German and American characters stand side by side to battle Fascist artefacts of the past. There is a clear establishment that the purpose of the story is to mock the Nazis. To use their own iconography against them and show that the Jews ultimately won despite attempts to wipe them out. However, this message is muddled by the lack of characterisation given to the minority members of the cast. Often the only trait a secondary character has is their ethnicity or sexuality.

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There are also tonal issues. A movie this bonkers should be fun. Instead it ends on a downer and a self-aware quip about reflecting our dark times. Surely killer puppet movies should help us escape reality, not remind us how bad things are. Barbara Crampton is in it though and that should be reason enough to check it out!



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