How to Watch The Puppet Master Franchise

I know it's Zombie Tuesday and I'm about to talk Puppet Master. But if you think about Zombies they originally came from cats and voodoo. So it still fits. Way Puppet Master you ask? Well after watching the wonderful Elvira host PM on Hulu it was a wonderful trip down memory lane.

So this post today is really about the order that you should watch them in. There are 10 movies in total so it could get confusing.

Each installment is not created in chronological order, and the events of Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge are dated inaccurately. For instance, Puppet Master, first motion picture states that Toulon committed suicide in 1939 at the Bodega Bay Inn in Bodega Bay, California, while Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge takes place in 1941, and he is still very much alive, (possibly a mistake).

In an attempt to resolve the confusion, the installments are listed below in chronological order based on the plot summaries of each film.

Retro Puppet Master (1999)

It's 1892 and Sutekh is hopping mad. It seems a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sorcerer has stolen one of God's secrets of life - that of instilling the souls of the dying into inanimate things. Sutekh raises three mummified former high priests, led by the villainous "First Servant", and charges them with recovering both the Sorceror and his secret. There is no lack of victims for the 3 high faluting, stylish villains as they pursue their prey to 19th century Paris, and the very young puppeteer, Andre Toulon. Toulon runs a puppet theatre in the heart of Paris and meets the sorcerer (the mysterious Afzel) when he is found by the lovely Swiss Ambassador's daughter Ilsa, after being nearly killed. It is there and then that we find the seed of things to come and the origin of the Puppetmaster series of tales.

Puppet Master 3 Toulon's Revenge (1991)

Set in Berlin during WWII, the Nazi regime is attempting to develop a drug that will animate the dead, to use in the war effort. Toulon arouses suspicion as a Nazi dissident, and his secret is discovered. During a Nazi raid on his home, Toulon's beautiful wife is murdered. Toulon vows revenge, with the help of his animated puppets. This movie gives a new perspective on Toulon and his "friends".

Puppet Master: Axis of  Evil (2010)

Puppet Master: Axis of Evil, directed by David DeCoteau, was released on video in 2010. Continuing his journey to the United States, Toulon takes shelter at the Bodega Bay Inn in Bodega Bay, California. The Gestapo, however, has traced his location and two soldiers are sent to the hotel to assassinate him. With the chest containing his puppets and secrets hidden inside a wall panel, Toulon commits suicide before the assassins can infiltrate his room. (This is all a replay of the prologue/flashback sequence from the original 1989 Puppetmaster, augmented with new material.) Bodega Bay employee Danny Coogan discovers Toulon's body, along with his trunk of puppets, and begins taking care of them, eventually their secret. Coogan becomes jealous when his girlfriend, who also knows the puppets are alive, flirts with a man Coogan recognizes as one of the Gestapo who had come hunting for Toulon. Coogan discovers the Gestapo are involved in a plan to bomb the United States, and with the puppets' help, Coogan resolves to stop them and creates a new puppet "Ninja" to aid the others in battle.

Puppet Master X Axis Rising (2012)

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising, directed by Charles Band, was released on video in 2012. Danny Coogan (played by Levi Feihler), the teenage handicapped boy who found Toulon's puppet's, goes to rescue the love of his life, Beth, from being kidnapped from Klaus, and kills two Japanese, and two Germans, but in the end, the puppets wind up helpless and stolen by the only survivor, Ozu. Leaving Blade, Pinhead, and new recruit, Ninja, with the soul of Don Coogan, (played by Taylor M. Graham), behind. They will need to get their old puppet friends back, and defeat a few new ones along the way, such as the leader, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremecht, and the only Japanese puppet, (living with the other's as Nazis), is Kamikaze, but he is not able to go over sea's and fight against the Krauts, but he may just get his wish by doing his bit right in China Town, California, with the help of a newly rebuilt Six Shooter. Even if he is fighting with and against 12-inch tiny terrors!

Puppet Master (1989)

Puppet Master (first motion picture of the franchise), directed by David Schmoeller, was released on video in 1989. In 1989, four psychics each receive unsettling visions, which they assess have been sent by a former colleague, Neil Gallagher. The group meets at the Bodega Bay Inn where Gallagher has been staying, where before long they are introduced to Gallagher's wife, Megan. The psychics are skeptical that Gallagher had ever been wed, but this is forgotten when Megan reveals that he has recently committed suicide. Toulon's puppets, now out and about, proceed to murder everyone in the hotel before only the psychic Alex Whitaker, and Megan remains. It is here that Gallagher, alive, confronts the two survivors. Gallagher explains that while he did die, Toulon's formula was used to give himself eternal life. However, when Gallagher mistreats the puppet Jester, the others revolt against him, locking him in an elevator and mercilessly killing him. Whitaker returns home. Megan, now alone, is shown picking up Dana's taxidermic dog, and by the following scene, the dog becomes completely animate, indicating that she too has learned Toulon's method.

Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

The Curse of the Puppet Master, directed by David DeCoteau, was released on video in 1998. After the incident, Toulon's trunk is soon placed into an auction by Megan, who believes as a revenge to get rid of the puppets for good, where they are obtained by Magrew, an honorary doctor who manages a sideshow in a small American community. Here, Magrew conducts experiments on transforming humans into puppets, in an attempt to primitively duplicate Andre Toulon's method of animation. When Magrew's daughter, Jane, returns from college, the two meet a gas station attendant named Robert "Tank" Winsley. Winsley's skill at carving wood is noticed by Magrew, and the boy is invited to stay with him and Jane if he agrees to carve a puppet for Magrew's experiment. As Winsley and Jane grow closer, Magrew tries to discourage Jane from seeing Winsley, so that in the event where the boy leaves, Jane will not be hurt. However, Jane assures her father that Winsley would not leave her. After carving the pieces for Magrew's puppet, Winsley becomes ill. Magrew calls for a doctor, and Jane is ordered to leave town to pick up a package for his sideshow. After learning that no package was sent, Jane races home but makes a stop to inspect debris she had found burnt in a ditch shortly before. In it, she finds a grotesque fleshy puppet who knows her name, which she identifies as her father's former assistant; the role which Winsley has replaced. Winsley wakes restrained to a laboratory table, with Magrew nearby, brandishing a mechanical puppet of his own. Magrew transfers Winsley's soul into the machine, but before he can enjoy his success, Toulon's puppets become enraged by his disgusting experiments, and they attack him. When Jane returns home, she finds her bloodied father and the mechanical puppet, recognizing it as Winsley because his face appears on a visual display unit on the figure's head. Winsley then proceeds to electrocute Magrew to death.

Puppet Master 2 His Unholy Creation (1990)

Puppet Master 2, directed by Dave Allen, was released on video in 1991. After the puppets returned to Bodega Bay Inn, they visit the Shady Oaks cemetery where they recover Toulon's corpse and reanimate it using the last of the Egyptian's elixir. With Toulon alive, the puppets hope that he can brew a new elixir to continue keeping them sustained. Toulon humbly pursues the formula, but to do so, his puppets are required to continue killing, as blood and brain tissue are the key ingredient in the concoction. After slaying the Bodega Bay Inn's owner, Megan Gallagher, Toulon unofficially takes ownership of the hotel, to the confusion of a group of parapsychologists who come to investigate the rantings of Alex Whitaker, who has gone insane since his visit to the place. It is during this time that Toulon designs his last puppet, Torch. After seeing one of the investigators, Carolyn Bramwell, Toulon is reminded of his wife Elsa, who bears a striking resemblance to Bramwell, and uncharacteristically he abandons the plan to help his puppets to find a way of being united with who he believes is his reincarnated wife. Toulon, who has had two life-sized mannequins created to house the souls of both he and Bramwell, uses a combination of the elixir and a magic spell to place his soul into one mannequin. However before Bramwell's soul can be transferred into the other mannequin, her love interest, Michael Kenney, rescues her. The puppets, both angry and ashamed that their long loving master has abandoned them due to his mind being corrupted by the formula he took that made him nothing more but a shadow of his former self, opt to have him killed once again. They use the remaining elixir and mannequin to resurrect one of their victims, Michael's mother, Camille. However, Camille takes on a sadistic personality and has the puppets locked away, except for Torch, who shares her disgust for children. This is key in that Camille uses the puppets to terrorize institutionalized children. though this is only suggested and never shown on screen.

Puppet Master 4 The Demon (1993)

Puppet Master 4, directed by Jeff Burr, was released on video in 1993. Sometime after Camille takes Toulon's puppets on the road, they are returned to the Bodega Bay Inn, where they are not discovered until one summer while a youth scientist named Rick Myers serves as caretaker for the hotel. It is at this time that the god Sutekh makes a second attempt to suppress the secret of animation. Sutekh has three tribal puppets, spiritually linked to demonic minions of his own, called Totems sent to Earth to hunt down key personnel in the Omega Project, an organization also attempting to create life in inanimate objects. Myers' girlfriend, Susie, pays a visit to the Bodega Bay Inn, along with her friends Cameron and Lauren. Unknown to Susie, both Myers and Cameron have been previously acquainted, and they are both members of the Omega Project. Lauren, a clairvoyant, leads the group to the chest containing Toulon's puppets, and from the puppeteer's notes, Myers learns to inject the puppets with the elixir to reanimate them. The puppets befriend the group and protect them when the Totems arrive to kill Myers and his friends. Toulon's spirit, at ease, since his puppets slew him over his treachery, returns to guide the puppets, advising them to activate his unfinished figure, Decapitron. The puppets set up an electric current which is used to animate Decapitron, who uses its interchangeable heads to communicate with the group and attack Totems.

Puppet Master 5 The Final Chapter (1994)

Puppet Master 5, directed by Jeff Burr, was released on video in 1994. Following the events of Puppet Master 4, shortly after the attack, Myers is arrested under suspicion for having caused the murders committed by the Totems. His boss, Jennings, has Myers bailed because he believes he is innocent, and Myers tells Jennings about his experience with Toulon's puppets, all-the-while expecting Jennings not to believe him. However Jennings is interested in Myers' story, and he organizes a group of thugs to break into the Bodega Bay Inn and steal the puppets. Myers has a disturbing premonition and decides to return to the hotel with Blade to check on the puppets which were left behind when he was taken into custody. Meanwhile, Sutekh activates another Totem, which he proceeds to transfer his soul into. Amid their search for the puppets, Sutekh ambushes Jennings' thugs at the Bodega Bay Inn, before confronting Myers, who has recently arrived at the hotel, and Toulon's puppets. A battle between Sutekh and the puppets ensues, resulting in Sutekh attempting to retreat. However, the spirit of Andre Toulon, piloting Decapitron, can destroy him, inadvertently damaging all of the puppets in the process.

Puppet Master The Legacy (2003)

Puppet Master: The Legacy, directed by Charles Band, was released on video in 2003. After Rick is murdered by rogue agent Maclain (off-screen), The puppets were adapted by Peter Hertz, adopted son of Toulon (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge), who is now held hostage by rogue agent Maclain who is hired by the original puppets to learn how to reverse the spell of animation in order to end their suffering. Beforehand Maclain murders Rick Myers (Puppet Master 4 and Puppet Master 5) to obtain Toulon’s journal; however, the text fails to mention de-animation, which brings him to the Inn. Hertz is not aware of how to reverse animation himself, so he plays several taped recordings of Andre Toulon that chronicles his life, but the secret is absent from these recordings as well. In the end, Hertz and Blade attack Maclain before they are ambushed by an unseen character.

So there it is in a nutshell. The way to watch the series in order. Charles Band has hinted at a Puppet Master Series later next year. After the success of Troy Heads.  I can see the plans moving forward as the legions of fans will embrace the franchise as it heads into a new direction.

Now if you find yourself interested in the series there is a cheap way to catch up. Mills Creek has put the first 9 movies in one DVD set that you can easily find in the big dump bins. Remember to pack in that many movies the quality is going to suffer. But nevertheless, still, a good way to start.

If that is not enough is another great place to start.

Source for this article Wikipedia and IMDB  as well as Full Moon Horror.

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  1. I still have yet to catch up on the recent entries in the series.


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