In this fourth installment, the puppets turn good ! Evil creatures are sent by an Egyptian demon to reclaim the magic stolen by Toulon. They target a young scientist, Rick, who is now in possession of the puppet master’s secrets. The creatures, called totems, leave a deadly path…until the puppets interfere to stop them.
Directed by Jeff Burr and released in 1993, Puppet Master 4 takes the franchise in a new direction with one major alteration : the puppets are now helping the protagonist.
The film is a let-down, especially following Puppet Master 3. Though there is a lot of doll action, the story is not as elaborate as in the previous installments. The opening sequence in the demon’s lair and the demon himself look as if they are from a theme park attraction. But the totems (the demon’s minions) have a great design and are different from what we are used to in this franchise.
The strong point of the film is, as always, the animation of the puppets. This is the one aspect that keeps improving with each film. The tradition continues as a new puppet is introduced : Decapitron. Unfortunately, this time, its design has nothing special and I didn’t particularly liked it.
The direction of the film is also questionnable. So far, the franchise has established that the puppets are evil. Having them turn good and protect the protagonist and his friends feels out of place and, in my opinion, hurts the franchise since its main appeal is watching evil puppets creatively kill stupid characters.
After the huge improvement on the story in Puppet Master 3, we are back where we started, with characters wandering around the hotel, which feels like a step back. And this time, we don’t get to have fun with the puppets killing stupid characters, since they are now fighting the demon’s minions.
The film reedeems itself a bit in the third act, with an action-packed confrontation between the puppets and the totems. However, it’s not enough to make up for the film’s weaknesses. Puppet Master 4 is overall a disappointment but still has some entertainment value.