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MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

I had the opportunity to watch Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and jumped at it. Those puppets hold a special place in my heart, much like the Cenobites do, and thus I will always watch the next installment in the franchise. After 2017’s dismal Puppet Master: Axis Termination, I didn’t hold much hope for the latest entry – especially after I saw the redesign of Blade and heard that Six Shooter would be entirely absent. But then I learned that Fangoria, Thomas Lennon, Barbara Crampton, and Udo Kier were involved, and my interest was once again piqued. Could this be a return to the kind of Puppet Master awesomeness that was the best parts of the previous entries?

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon

If you’re unfamiliar with the timeline of the Puppet Master movies, that will not be a problem. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a complete reboot of the series set in an alternate universe. Fans of the franchise need not fret either as the reboot retains several of our favorite puppets – Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead, and Torch (aka Kaiser) – while introducing some interesting new ones.

Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, and Thomas Lennon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin), Ashley (Jenny Pellicer), and Edgar (Thomas Lennon)

The movie begins with a brief glimpse 30 years into the past when an evil Toulon (Udo Kier from Mark of the Devil) was found and killed by local police. From there it moves to the present and primarily follows Edgar (Thomas Lennon of Santa Clarita Diet), a recently divorced and struggling comic book artist who becomes mixed up in Toulon’s return on the 30th anniversary of the Toulon murders. Edgar, having moved into his parents’ house, also works as a comic store clerk and decides to auction off his dead brother’s Blade puppet at a Toulon convention. He invites Ashley (Jenny Pellicer of The Bridge TV series) along, his boss Markowitz (Nelson Franklin of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) invites himself along, and the trio set out for what they hope will be a fun and somewhat profitable weekend.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich uses the convention to reveal Toulon’s past in this universe, primarily via the tour of Toulon Mansion as led by one of the officers from the original case 30 years earlier, retired officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton), who outlines the details of the events surrounding the Toulon Massacre. Here’s what we learn of Toulon’s past on the tour: He was born in France in 1907 and eventually entered the family business of manufacturing, selling, and performing with puppets. At this point, Doreski points out that three of the museum’s puppets are missing – Kaiser aka Torch, Pinhead, and a new puppet called Amphibian. In this universe, Toulon fled to Germany after arrests in Paris, Norway, and Luxemborg and likewise fled to the US after the Third Reich surrendered. Toulon’s Nazi roots are underscored by his choice of victims as well as the paraphernalia and the remains of his library, a library that includes three books from Adolf Eichmann, author of the Reich’s “Final Solution”. After a pass through Toulon’s workshop, the tour concludes with an exterior shot of Toulon’s tomb, complete with spikes on top that do not go with the rest of the architecture.

Toulon's tomb in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Andre Toulon’s tomb

And that’s the basic set up for the puppet mayhem.

Nelson Franklin and Charlyne Yi in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) and Nerissa (Charlyne Yi )

Once the puppets are in town, they’re let loose on everyone. Primarily targeting people the Nazis did, the puppets do what they do best. I’ll not go into details about the kills, but I will say that they are a lot of fun. There are some creative kills with both the old puppets and the new additions, and the effects are a delight. Fear not, gorehounds, you will be satisfied. While I miss the older puppets that have been omitted, I’m pleased with the results of the new ones as well as the differences in how the traditional puppets are portrayed – something I honestly did not think I would like.

Alex Beh and Michael Pare in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Hotel manager Howie (Alex Beh) and Det. Brown (Michael Paré)

The performances were top notch, and Udo Kier’s Toulon oozed skeeze and evil. Lennon, Pellicer, and Franklin are all excellent in their roles. Lennon’s performance is understated, but that works well for this story. Pellicer as the tough but sexy girl next door is both believable and likable, making the blossoming romance subplot less annoying than they usually are. Franklin holds his own with both and, to both Franklin’s and the movie’s credit, he’s not a caricature. Barbara Crampton (We Are Still Here ) is, as always, awesome and crushes every scene. Michael Paré (Village of the Damned (1995)) plays Detective Brown, the unlucky officer investigating the disappearance of multiple puppets brought to town for auction, and nails the role. In a delightful twist to the usual fare, when faced with puppets acting on their own, Paré’s detective goes with it. Rounding out the main cast are Alex Beh (Sugar) as hotel manager Howie, Charlyne Yi (House – TV series) as comic fan and waitress Nerissa, and Skeeta Jenkins (Summer of ’67) as bartender Cuddly Bear. All work well with this script and as an ensemble.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was filmed at the same time as Puppet Master: Axis Termination, but the two could not be further apart in tone and execution. While Puppet Master: Axis Termination follows Toulon’s story as an opponent of the Nazis, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich places Toulon in the Third Reich for this alternate universe. Written by S. Craig Zahler and directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund from characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a worthy entry in the franchise. Indeed, given the last few movies in the original universe, this was a wise move and offers an entirely new storyline to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler

8/10 claw scratches for this alternate universe Puppet Master reboot

BONUS: Puppet Gallery




Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)Growing up, I always loved watching the Puppet Master movies. As I got older, I began to realize the movies didn’t make a whole lot of sense — then again, the movies are about killer puppets coming to life and Nazis wanting a secret formula to re-animate the dead.

Puppet Master: The Littlest ReichPuppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the latest film in the franchise and is a new branch to the storyline. The film is about a group of people meeting at a convention for the Andre Toulon Murders that took place in the late 80s. Naturally, the murders begin all over again. I was skeptical at first since I’m a huge Puppet Master fan and the pictures didn’t really convince me. I was especially disappointed in the new looks, but I sat down and watched the movie with an open mind.

Puppet Master: The Littlest ReichFirst, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a great little flick and an excellent addition to the franchise with its new look and perfect balance of over-the-top gore. Yes, some of the original puppets are back some with new designs, and new puppets have been added to the group — including what appears to be a few toys. The story showcases a darker tone for not only the puppets that are clearly being controlled by Toulon but also for Toulon himself. Forget the loving, Nazi-fighting Toulon; this Toulon is much creepier. Udo Kier, who plays Toulon, has a very interesting take on the character, and Kier has definitely made his mark in the franchise.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich does have some humor but not enough to weaken the horror aspect or riddle the film with shock jokes. At first, it may seem like Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich didn’t cover all the ground, but from the looks of things, we may see a trilogy from this new branch of the Puppet Master storyline.

Overall, I say buy this movie if you’re a Puppet Master fan, and if you’re not, it’s a great movie to watch with friends and a good way to learn about what started this new direction.Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

Posted by Jai Alexis in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, NEW RELEASES, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, THRILLER, 0 comments
Gruesome Twosome: An Exclusive on Chris Alexander’s Two Upcoming Features

Gruesome Twosome: An Exclusive on Chris Alexander’s Two Upcoming Features

Chris Alexander is no stranger to the horror genre and this year he has not one but two projects in the works. The massively talented former editor-in-chief of Fangoria Magazine stopped by to give me the skinny on his two latest projects and what fans can expect.

Chris Alexander - Space Vampire (2018)Space Vampire (2018)
Director: Chris Alexander; Writer: Ali Chappell; Star: Ali Chappel; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

Plot: An alluring space alien falls to earth with the mission to drain women of their life energy making her unstoppable. This film wonderfully harkens back to surreal dreamscapes of Rollins with a dash of Hopper’s Lifeforce for good measure.

Chris has this to say about the project:

Space Vampire is my fifth feature and once more functions as a vessel for both my music and my obsessions with more dreamlike, psychological and experimental strains of horror cinema, specifically the personal, meandering works of Rollin, Franco, and Herzog. Rollin especially, with his fixation on tragic female vampires. This picture takes its title nod from Colin Wilson’s novel The Space Vampires, which was, of course, adapted for the screen as Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce but the movie itself is more informed by films like Under the Skin and the opening stretches of The Man Who Fell from Earth. I love the idea of following unnatural characters lost in familiar landscapes, almost child-like and driven by whatever addiction they are chained to. I make these movies for me and all my movies are – for better or worse – interconnected by theme, mood, style, sound.

And when asked what stage it’s in, he added:

I’m still editing. Its very abstract. But I am getting the “feel” of it….finding the rhythm.

Chris Alexander - Underneath An Anthology of Terror (2018)Underneath: An Anthology of Terror (2018)
Directors: Chris Alexander, Andre Becker, Cory Ivanchuk, John Nicol; Writers: Chris Alexander, Andre Becker, Cory Ivanchuk, John Nicol; Stars: Brent Baird, Nicholas Koy Santillo, Nichole Kawalez, Ali Chappell, Colin Bailey, Rebecca Kilburn, Tammy Stewart, Mike McMurran, Joshua Kuchma; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 95 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

Plot: In the vein of Creepshow and the more recent VHS series comes Underneath an anthology featuring five exciting voices in the horror genre.

I always love a good horror anthology and Chris, along with other talents – including Andre Becker, Cory Ivanchuk, and John Nicol, are sure to conjure up some fun and scares. Chris had this to say:

Underneath is the new anthology feature from my good friend and colleague John Nicol. Similar tastes in more abstract cinema. So when he asked me to contribute a segment I agreed. My short is really about how we have perverted our connection to the natural world with endless distraction and illusion. It’s about a woman becoming undone by the fixation on finding “nature”. She eventually regresses fully to an animal state. So, in the context of the short, it is a happy ending! Unsure what John will be doing release wise with Underneath but Space Vampire is the second film from my Castle Films imprint that I operate with filmmaker David DeCoteau, creating more artful and expressive micro-budget genre films.

I for one am very excited for both of these films and will be eagerly awaiting them later this year. Of course, I like to give a huge thank you to Chris Alexander for taking the time to talk to chat about his amazing new projects.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Help Out Frankenhooker Writer Bob Martin

Help Out Frankenhooker Writer Bob Martin

Who is Bob Martin?

All of us writers have somebody we look up to, and some of those writers worked tirelessly but sadly don’t get the kind of respect or attention that they deserve. Robert Martin, also known as Uncle Bob, is a legend in the horror and cult film industry. His writing credits include fan favorites such as: Frankenhooker, Basket Case 3, and of course, as the original editor of Fangoria magazine. He was even a zombie in George Romero’s seminal zombie film Day of the Dead (1985).

What Happened and Can I Help?

Sadly, a stroke has left this unsung genre hero in a tough spot, and with the government shut down, he is in need some funds to get by. The horror community is awesome, and I like to think we take care of our own. I took it upon myself to write this article and ask for other fans to share this and, if you can, give any little thing. It would be amazing. After all, for the hours of entertainment this man has helped to give, it’s really a small way to pay it forward.

Thanks for reading, and if you cannot give at this time, even sharing this link and getting the word out will be a huge help.

Thank you on behalf of Uncle Bob.

Below is the Paypal link.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments

House of Tortured Souls Live Welcomes Billy Pon

With Special Guest Billy Pon

By John Roisland, Stephanie Roisland, and Allen (Dixielord) Alberson

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During the Billy Pon interview about a minute and a half of audio was garbled, and some bits lost. It was either cut the entire section, leave it or try and piece it together and possibly lose or misinterpret the questions and response so I decided to leave it as is. Apologies to Billy Pon.

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Hello and welcome to Episode III of House of Tortured Souls Live! This week we discuss the sneak preview release of what has become the most anticipated horror film of 2016. We could be talking about, the one and only, love him or hate him...Rob Zombie's 31. House of Tortured Souls own Jonathan Patrick Hughes was there to check out the release on the big screen as well as give you his thoughts in his written review online at www.houseoftorturedsouls.com. We discuss the return of American Horror Story 6 being brought back the Fox network September 14th, with the return of Lady Gaga. The Misfits reunion with confirmed legendary drummer (SLAYER/ SUICIDAL TENDENCIES) Dave Lombardo will begin at Riot Fest. House of Tortured Souls pays tribute to and remembers comedic actor Gene Wilder who starred in such great films as Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstien and Blazing Saddles, and who all know was the real Willy Wonka. . The House of Tortured Souls takes a moment to also celebrate the birthday of Asian horror Master Takashi Miike. In the studio for Episode III co-founder of House of tortured Souls Stephanie Roisland> joined us and gets you up to date on Fangoria Music release of The Horde mixtapes. House of tortured Souls is also proud to announce that one of our own, Rocky Gray is currently directing his own horror Anthology entitled 10/31/ 16 and Allen Alberson also gives us an in-depth look at the problems with distribution in film making as he discusses lost movies that have never made it. The House of Tortured Souls Live was also honored with our first in studio guest for Episode III, director of Dolll Boy and Circus of the Dead, Mr. Billy Pon aka Bloody Bill, who discusses the making of Circus of the Dead , problems with distribution companies, his own Haunted House in his home land of Texas all that while we try to get Allen a Pepsi!

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in PODCAST, 0 comments
COMING SOON: Fangoria Musick – The Horde Mixtape

COMING SOON: Fangoria Musick – The Horde Mixtape

By John Roisland
musick

Growing up as a young horror fan, one of the first publications I remember seeing that covered the genre was, of course, Fangoria. After being around for all these years and still holding strong, they have expanded and have since opened a music department aptly named Fangoria Musick.

So when April Bedan, manager of Fangoria Musick emailed me and asked if I'd be interested in mentioning their upcoming release, I was honored.

Fangoria Musick held an open call for any interested horror themed musicians to send in the best they had. What they ended up with is going to shatter your soul!

Fangoria Musick - The Horde Mixtape Flyer

Fangoria Musick presents THE HORDE MIXTAPE. After a long list of submissions, Fangoria Musick narrowed it down to 11 very fortunate groups that I'm sure had to sell their soul and sign the deal with blood. Fangoria has said this album will cover all different genres of horror music, so whether its dark ominous or head banging thrash, I'm looking forward to it!

The musicians on THE HORDE MIXTAPE are as follows:

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow right20SIX HUNDRED

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightCEMETERY HIGH

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightSURGERY HEAD

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightKARDIAC

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightTHE CHURCH OF ZANN

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightGEOFF BALL

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightBASTARD CITY

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightMOJAVE PHONE BOOTH

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightDOWD

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightTHE CHOKE

Fangoria Musick - Red arrow rightBLOODSHOT

Artwork for the album cover was done by Corey Jennings of KARDIAC who is also signed to the Fangoria Musick label and who also produced and edited THE MIXTAPE video promo. Obviously a busy guy!

Set to release on July 29, 2016, Digital Downloads will be available at FANGORIA.com, while physical copies will be available at FangoriaMusick.bigcartel.com.

I'm sure this release is going to be one to add to your personal library. I, for one, cant wait to get my hands on a copy.

So stay true to the horror genre, support Fangoria and Fangoria Muisck, both online and on their Facebook and Twitter social pages. And don't forget to order your copy of THE HORDE MIXTAPE or you'll suffer eternally!

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
Fangoria Fires Michael Gingold

Fangoria Fires Michael Gingold

Michael Gingold:
End of an Era

By Woofer McWooferson
Michael Gingold

Image: Lightanddark.net

Since 1979, Fangoria magazine has serving up horror news to fans of the genre, and since 1988, Michael Gingold has been part of the Fangoria team. In September 2015, Editor-in-Chief Chris Alexander chose to part ways in order to pursue his film career, and in October longtime Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold was tapped to replace him. On May 25, 2016, however, Fangoria announced that it fired both Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold and art director Bill Mohalley, leaving fans of the magazine scratching their heads and sending ripples throughout the horror community.

According to Ken W. Hanley, the new Editor-in-Chief:

I’m sad to say that Michael Gingold is no longer a part of FANGORIA Magazine. For many of you, this may not be news, as FANGORIA’s parting of ways with Mike became public yesterday, and to see the tremendous outpouring of support among the horror community assures this writer that Mike will move on to bigger, bolder, and brighter things. Honestly, I was hoping for Mike to say farewell personally, on his own terms, to the horror audience he served for decades, and that option is still available, should he choose to do so.

Furthermore, FANGORIA also parted ways with longtime art director, Bill Mohalley, whose designs and masterful work have lead to all the iconic covers, spreads and artwork that fright fans have come to know and love. This writer personally hopes for the best for both Mike and Bill during this time.

Hanley suggests that these firings were long in the making even though fans of Fangoria were blindsided. The backlash has been intense, and the move has drawn criticism from Guillermo del Toro and others in the horror industry.

Gingold - Guillermo del Toro

Translation: Without Michael Gingold, there would be no Geometria, and without Geometria, there would be no Guillermo del Toro catalogue of films.

Adrian Garcia Bogliano, writer/director, ABCs of Death:

Gingold - Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Glenn Kenny, writer/critic, New York Times:

Gingold - Glenn Kenny

Alex Winter, actor, writer, Freaked (1993):

Gingold - Alex Winter

Soska sisters, filmmakers, American Mary (2012), See No Evil 2 (2014):

Gingold - Soska Sisters

Ted Geoghegan, producer/writer, We Are Still Here (2015):

Gingold - Ted Geoghegan

Hanley continues, assuring Fangoria readers that the magazine will be both different and the same:

I would like to be clear about one thing, though: FANGORIA will never be the same without Mike’s presence and influence in the magazine. This writer will not try to mirror Mike’s accomplishments from his 28 years with FANGORIA, nor could I if I even wanted to. But what this writer does promise as Editor-in-Chief will be a different kind of FANGORIA altogether; something timeless, new, and unique yet building on the legacy of what made FANGORIA so notable in the past.

FANGORIA will still be dedicated to giving independent horror filmmakers, authors, game designers, and FX artists the showcase they deserve. In this next phase of FANGORIA, this writer hopes to revive the art of FX preview pieces, which has since been lost in the age of studio embargoes and CGI, and make them integral to each ensuing edition. And I want to hear more voices in the world of FANGORIA, print, web or otherwise, especially from the endless stream of brilliant female writers as well as writers of color, both of whom offer a perspective on the genre that I couldn’t possibly imagine.

It remains to be seen what type of job Hanley will do, but one thing is certain: With Gingold's departure, we have seen the end of an era.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

By Kev B.

Amnesiac poster

On August 10, 2015, I was given the opportunity to attend Fangoria’s screening of Amnesiac, starring Wes Bentley and Kate Bosworth. It’s not often I go out to a movie, and if I do it’s because I think it needs or deserves the big screen experience. I went into this one with no expectations, and though this little movie with a cast of eight actors could have been more comfortably viewed from the couch, I was pleasantly surprised and actually didn’t regret coming out from under my rock.

The film (directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish) centers around Bentley’s character waking from days of unconsciousness with a cast on his leg, a head wound, no memory, and a strange feeling that all is not as it seems… Amnesiac starts off slowly and builds tension as the story unfolds. I can’t say much about the plot, for fear of spoiling any of the twists, and I also suggest not watching the trailer (it’s both misleading and gives away way too much). I felt like the less you know before viewing, the better off you are, and any preconceptions about this movie should be forgotten in order to fully enjoy it. It’s a stylish Hitchcockian neo-noir psychological thriller/mystery with characters that exhibit David Lynchish eccentricities. It’s a more cerebral film that leaves most of the gore up to your own imagination, with most (but not all) of the violence happening off screen.

I’ve seen some reviews that were unfavorable at best, but I really liked it and I give it a big dismembered thumbs up. It’s a well acted film (especially Bosworth’s icy Hitchcock blond), and Polish does a solid job in the director’s chair crafting a visually striking picture with the use of light and shadow… So much so that it almost appeared to be in black and white at times, and I would almost say it should have been.

If you are looking for a quirky little film with a little tension and some mystery (a little dark comedy), and an ending that I felt tied up most of the loose ends and gave a solid resolution, then I recommend this one for you. Amnesiac saw its wide release August 14, 2015, in theaters and VOD.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments