Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)
By: Paul Ryan on September 24, 2011  | 
Big Sky Video | All Regions, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 71 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Robert Talbot
Starring: Jacob Witkin, Kate Orsini
Screenplay: Gene Yarbrough
Country: USA
External Links
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What do you do when your production company has fallen on such hard times that they can't even afford to make new films anymore? Simple, just cannibalise your old ones! Around the start of the 2000s, Full Moon's cash flow was such that they were reduced to bargain basement (costing around $50,000 tops), shot-on-video opuses such as Demonicus, Cryptz and Hell Asylum. Though (obviously) painfully cheap, these were at least original feature films. What followed these was, incredibly, a step even lower down the budget pole, with a rash of hastily slapped-together compilation films, pieced together out of extracts from Full Moon's back catalogue. These included clip jobs such as Aliens Gone Wild, Monsters Gone Wild and the less snappily titled When Puppets and Dolls Attack, alongside ersatz anthologies Tomb of Terror and Horrific (with each "story" being a brutally condensed version of an older Full Moon feature). Capping off this grim chapter in the company's history is Puppet Master: The Legacy.

Both a cheapo greatest hits compilation and a half-hearted attempt at a new instalment (think Band's Dollman Vs Demonic Toys, only even crummier), this eighth entry in the long-running Puppet Master series makes for depressing viewing by any yardstick. Both Band and his screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner hide behind pseudonyms for what amounts to maybe fifteen minutes of newly-shot footage to frame the long recaps from the seven previous films, all of which look like Avatar-sized spectaculars compared to this.

For those who care, the new material – I dare not debase the word "plot" here – concerns elderly Eric Weiss (Jacob Witkin), the current guardian of Andre Toulon's living marionettes. Mercenary babe Maclain (Kate Orsini) has been hired to steal the secrets of Toulon's puppets, and breaks into Weiss' loft - which is, aside from a brief scene in a bare room, the only new location in the film. Tortured and beaten, Weiss reluctantly produces an old audio tape containing Toulon's memoirs and notes. Cue the flashbacks!

From here, the rest of the "film" awkwardly attempts to compile the flashback footage into chronological order, a big ask, given the glaring inconsistencies in the the Puppet Master timeline. There's an attempt to link the footage with narration by Toulon, but aside from some old audio of Guy Rolfe (elderly Toulon in entries 3-5 and 7), most of it comes from some schlub who obviously sounds nothing like Rolfe. You'll see four different actors (Rolfe, Steve Welles, William Hickey and The Room's Greg Sestero) playing Toulon, along with many other familiar character actors along the way, and wonder if any of them got paid royalties for their footage being used. Despite a brisk 72 minute running time – with no closing credits! - the pacing is glacial. The clips themselves often feel far too long (you pretty much get all the plot points of Puppet Master III as presented here), while the picture quality of the clips are wildly variable depending on their source.

The new scenes mostly consist of arguing and threats between Weiss and Maclain and the odd glimpse of a puppet. Given the pocket change budget, the marionettes are even less mobile than they were in the already ultra-cheap Curse of the Puppet Master and Retro Puppet Master. Unsurprisingly, many of the special effects gaffes from the earlier films haven't been cleaned up here, so you can always play spot-the-wire throughout the clips, with a 100-point bonus for the obvious hand "animating" one of the marionettes in a shot from Retro Puppet Master.
Like the others before it, Puppet Master: The Legacy is presented in ye olde 4:3, which is as consistent as the video gets. Thanks to all the different film sources, the visual quality is inevitably erratic, with the clips from the fourth and fifth films bizarrely fuzzy compared to the rest. There's a lot of compression artefacts and noise to be found, which makes you wonder what happened in the authoring process for a 72-minute film to look like this.
It's two-channel Dolby. You can make out all the dialogue. Can't ask for much more, really.
Extra Features
Given the producers couldn't afford to make an actual movie, it's little surprise that there's a single, brief (87 seconds) trailer on offer, which also carries a lot of pixelation.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Beyond making a quick buck for Charles Band, it's hard to discern the point of Puppet Master: The Legacy's existence. It's not a movie, it's a clip show. Fans would be better served by simply re-watching the other films than in this cannibalised form, while it's impossible to imagine newcomers bothering in the first place.

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