A puppeteer with a mysterious secret to bring inanimate objects to life draws the attention of the Nazis who are losing the war and want to use Toulon’s secret to resurrect their dead soldiers. Toulon goes on the lam with revenge on his mind after his wife is murdered in cold blood but he has the perfect little army to help him fight back.
Judging a Book by its Cover
-Every movie seems to introduce a new puppet. PMII introduced Torch, this one has Six-Shooter for the first time. ‘Murica!!
-Leech Woman returns! She died in Part 2. 😦
When Good Puppets Go Bad!
Directed by David DeCoteau
Starring Guy Rolfe (Dolls), Richard Lynch (Trancers II, Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
The film opens with Major Kraus (Lynch) arriving at a medical centre to check on Dr. Hess (Abercrombie) as he is attempting once again to bring a dead soldier back to life. With their numbers dwindling near the end of the war, Dr. Hess was appointed the job of reviving dead soldiers so they could act as an undead defense for those still alive to fight. Hess has managed to bring one back for a few moments but that is nothing to work with. Kraus warns that Hess is running out of time.
The next day, a lieutenant close to Kraus is in attendance of a puppet show featuring Hitler being shot by an American cowboy with six arms. Oh, and the puppets are capable of moving by themselves. He attempts to get closer to see how they work but Toulon keeps the secret to himself, even when threatened of being shut down for obvious reasons. The lieutenant convinces Kraus of what he saw and Dr. Hess is immediately interested in anything that moves at this point so he’s along for the ride. Things go from bad to worse when Kraus apprehends Toulon and his Jewish wife and she’s shot dead in her defiance against the regime. After a brief grieving period, Toulon works his way up through anyone involved in his wife’s death using his former co-workers.
This movie has no right being as good as it is. Seriously, if you can get past the ridiculous premise of living puppets killing Nazis (and let’s face it, if you’ve watched the series up to this point, you’re over it) it tells quite the tale of an elderly man who turns his one gift that he shared with everyone into a tool for vengeful murder! Guy Rolfe’s take on puppet master Andre Toulon certainly adds more drama to what I would have expected and blows away any other interpretation of the character thus far. Richard Lynch as the villain, Major Kraus, may be any other villainous Nazi in a multitude of movies, yet Kraus makes it personal between himself and Toulon and becomes the endgame of Toulon’s revenge.
The puppets are the same as featured in previous movies, aside from Torch because this is a prequel/retcon, and everyone has their favourite among the bunch. In fact, this movie features the creations of fan favourites Blade and Leech Woman and also features an awesome new puppet, Six-Shooter, the American cowboy with six arms and lethal guns. However, instead of just being killing machines as in the previous movies, there’s actually some damn plot development for the puppets as Toulon reveals his secret and gives a backstory for each puppet as they contain the souls of his friends who were killed….by Nazis, of course. It’s a nice touch and adds to the mythos of the puppets for the fans who crave a little more from the killer dolls.
There’s very little about the film that I didn’t like. If you’re not a fan, Puppet Master III won’t change your mind about the series, but amongst Full Moon fans it’s considered the best of the series given the excellent production values, puppetry and stop-motion animation, not to mention quality directing and acting. Yes, it’s puppets vs. Nazis but the movie doesn’t treat the material like a joke, and if you liked the previous movies, there’s no reason not to love this one.
Story: 8 – An elderly puppet master uses his living dolls as tools of revenge against the Nazi Major who killed his wife.
Blood: 6 – Each puppet gets their own kill scene and it’s pretty obvious what they can do. There are a few gruesome scenes but nothing overly gory in comparison to what’s out today.
Nudity: 6 – There are a few gratuitous topless scenes thrown in featuring elderly Bond villain Walter Gotell (also seen in Sleepaway Camp 2!) getting sexed up or bathed by sexy scream queen Michelle Bauer.
Overall: 8 – Very fun and entertaining from beginning to end but that’s coming from a fan of the series.
-There were parts of the production that were going to be filmed in Romania but due to an unstable government at the time, those scenes were moved to the Universal Studios backlot.
-One of the bigger plot gaffes in the series is that Puppet Master III takes place in 1945 Germany and the original film takes place in 1939 and Toulon commits suicide in the opening of the film. Spoiler.
-Guy Rolfe played the part of Andre Toulon in four Puppet Master films before passing away in 2003.