After releasing Puppet Master in 1989, things were starting to look up for Charles Band’s brand new production company. They had struck a deal with Paramount to release their films, and they wanted a sequel as soon as possible. Around the same time, Full Moon had three more films lined up: Shadowzone, Meridian, and Crash and Burn. For the next Puppet Master, original director David Schmoeller didn’t return, so stop-motion animator David Allen stepped in. David Allen had been working for Band since the 70s on films like Laserblast, The Dungeonmaster, Trancers, Eliminators, and Dolls. He was even nominated for an Oscar for his work on Young Sherlock Holmes for Best Visual Effects in 1985. For this, not only would he be handling the stop-motion effects, but he’d also be directing, something he rarely did. So, in 1990, one year after the previous film, Puppet Master II was released.
Following the events of the previous film, a team of paranormal investigators goes to the Bodega Bay Inn. Alex Whitaker has gone crazy and Megan Gallagher was killed, so the team is there to investigate what happened. Among them are Carolyn Bramwell (Elizabeth Maclellan), her brother Patrick (Greg Webb), Mike Kenney (Collin Bernsen), and Wanda (Charlie Spradling). Mike’s psychic mother Camille (Nita Talbot) is supposed to join them, but she gets kidnapped by the puppets. Soon, the puppet Tunneler kills Patrick, leading to the sudden arrival of one Eriquee Chaneé (Steve Welles). Turns out Eriquee is Andre Toulon, who has been resurrected by his puppets to continue making his life-giving serum. His serum requires fresh brain matter, so he creates a new puppet, Torch, to assist the other puppets. Who will survive against these tiny terrors, and will Eriquee/Andre’s dastardly plot be foiled?
While I enjoyed the first film, I thought it was lacking in the puppets, having very little screen time. Luckily, Puppet Master II remedies this by incorporating more of the puppets, even giving us an idea of their personalities. While Pinhead, Blade, Leech Woman, Jester, and Tunneler return, there’s the addition of Torch, easily one of the coolest puppets. Many of the kill scenes are pretty fun, the highlight being Blade running towards someone to slice their face up. With the late great David Allen at the helm, the stop-motion sequences are as delightful and as unsettling as ever. Having Toulon come back as a villain was a nice touch, especially his look, inspired by The Invisible Man. Plus, we get to know more of Toulon’s backstory, such as his introduction to giving life to puppets. Also, like so many other great B-movies, George “Buck” Flower is here, too.
On that note, the acting isn’t terrible here and they do a fine job, but none are particularly memorable. Elizabeth Maclellan makes for a decent lead, and she does have good chemistry with her love interest Lance (Jeff Weston). Steve Welles makes for a good Toulon, both when he’s normal and when he’s dressed up in robes and bandages. Charlie Spradling is also fairly memorable, mixing a bit of a snarky attitude with her obvious sex appeal. Still, the true stars of this film are the puppets, and they’re easily the best part of the film. They proved to be so popular, Full Moon started producing a line of action figures and a comic book series. Even though Full Moon had only been around for about two years, things were starting to look up. As for Puppet Master II, it’s a great addition to a long-running franchise.
Buy Puppet Master II from Full Moon’s website: https://bit.ly/2sA7qlU