The 2018 Overlook Film Festival was proud to host the world premieres of several highly anticipated films this year. Among them was a nasty little picture, that only the most depraved minds would find entertaining. So, of course, we lined up an hour early to guarantee our spot for Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. It’s worth mentioning up top that the Puppet Master franchise has always been bit of a blind spot for me. Before last Friday, I had only seen the first film and most of what I remember involved psychics “enjoying” visions of sexy happenings from the past before getting slugged. It wasn’t until die hard fans of the franchise started expressing their love of the Puppet Master films that I knew we were in for something absolutely bananas.
Producers Dallas Sonnier and Amanda Presmyk came out to a packed house to introduce the world premiere of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Keeping things short, they said one thing that every insatiable horror fan wants to hear: There is no way this movie would EVER get an R-rating. And with a script from Brawl in Cell Block 99 director S. Craig Zahler, I wouldn’t expect anything else. After a heaping tablespoon of eager applause, the lights dimmed, the projector rolled, and the audience devoured every bloody minute.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich follows recent divorcee Edgar (Thomas Lennon) as he tries to get his life together and moving back in with his folks. After discovering a creepy, but surprisingly valuable doll in his late brother’s bedroom, Edgar hopes to make some fast cash by selling it to a probably creepy, but hopefully rich collector. With his new girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer), and boss/friend Markowitz (Nelson Franklin), a comic-book-guy “straight out of central casting”, the three head to a convention celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Toulon Murders. At the convention, Edgar and his pals run into dozens of fellow puppet parents, the silliest bartender you’ve ever seen, and Barbara Crampton as a gruff ex-cop-turned-tour-guide.
Surprise! The Puppets start killing people right after sundown, and they waste no time teasing you or dangling those kills just out of reach. Again, I’m not a Puppet Master expert, but from what I understand The Littlest Reich holds a body count larger than its predecessors; COMBINED. It’s a pure midnight madness film that tops itself moment after moment. Throughout the entire 90 minute runtime, I found myself thinking ‘Oh this is why they’d have an X-rating. No Wait, THIS is why’. And for that reason alone, this movie should be seen with a live audience. Whether at a film festival or simply in your living room with packed full of friends and fritos, see this movie with your fellow fiends. The howling, the gasping, the applause from the crowd at every blood-splattered sequence becomes the true soundtrack to this film.
A great deal of credit for the audaciousness of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich goes to the twisted mind of S. Craig Zahler. That credit is very well earned, but we would all be foolish not to sing the praises of puppet creator and special effects artist Tate Steinsiek for bringing Zahler’s warped vision to life. Steinsiek is a two-time finalists of SYFY’s Face-Off, and his work on this film is Grade-A Gore. The entire movie is a delicate balancing act of humor and brutality that has come to be expected in the Puppet Master films.
The Littlest Reich is a rowdy, crowd-pleasing bloodbath, perfect for old and new fans alike; A film that is wholly unapologetic for it’s depraved sense of humor and creative, merciless slaughter.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich acts as a reboot to Charles Band’s infamous franchise, perfectly suited for livelong fans and newcomers alike. Written by filmmaker S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99), the films stars Thomas Lennon (Hell Baby, Reno 911), Barbara Crampton (Re-animator, Beyond The Gates) Udo Kier (Suspiria, Flesh For Frankenstein) and Nelson Franklin (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). Rounding out the cast are Michael Pare (Streets of Fire), Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up), and Jenny Pellicer (Cocaine Grandmother). The film is directed by Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund (Wither, We Are Monsters), and produced by Dallas Sonnier and Amanda Presmyk of Fangoria owned Cinestate. The film is the first to be released under the resurrected Fangoria label.
We caught Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich at the 2018 Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. Stick around Nightmare on Film Street for even more festival coverage, and check out our Twitter and Instagram pages for highlights from the event.