Plot: Edgar (Thomas Lennon) is fresh off a divorce and headed home to move back in with his parents, while he tries to regroup and recover. After the expected drama and lectures, he settles in a little and finds one of his late brother’s puppets, a rare doll crafted by Toulon, an infamous toy maker. Toulon was a Nazi who was involved in some brutal murders and as it happens, the 30th anniversary of the tragedy is near and of course, someone has planned a convention around the events. Edgar decides to visit the convention to sell the puppet, as the dolls are quite sought after and he stands to make some serious bank. He is joined by his new girlfriend and his boss, then he meets a wide range of colorful personalities at the convention, some of whom have an obsessed with Toulon’s murders. But when someone starts killing the guests, is it just a copycat or has Toulon picked up where he left off?
Entertainment Value: This one is less a remake or reboot and more alternate universe style take on the Puppet Master lore, as some core elements are shaken up and this feels well outside the usual franchise installments. So while some of the classic puppet designs are back in The Littlest Reich, this is a much different take on the Toulon saga. One of the shifts is that Toulon is a Nazi, rather than part of a resistance, which paints the entire basic narrative with a new brush. I also think the focus on the puppets is lessened and much of the “character” involved is removed, as whenever we see the puppets, it is for quick, brutal kills. There’s not much lead up or puppet hijinks beyond the violence, which is fun at times, but it would have been nice to have a little more done with the puppets as characters. The movie blends sudden, blood soaked kills with a goofball sense of humor, with one liners and broad characters in ample numbers. The cast is a capable ensemble, with Thomas Lennon in the lead and supporting roles from Matthias Hues, Udo Kier, Michael Pare, and Barbara Crampton, as well as a host of colorful, over the top roles sprinkled in. I had fun with this new spin on Puppet Master, but I do wish it was more about the puppets, rather than the humans. Even so, fans of the original series and wacky horror in general should appreciate this one.
A few topless scenes unfold, but the sleaze is minimal here. But one kill interrupts a sex scene and has a little more skin involved, so that’s a plus. The movie boasts some remarkable bloodshed, with mostly practical gore effects that spare no violence and look quite impressive. The blood splashes around in large doses and the gore is kinetic, so we see the trauma from wounds opening, bodies being ravaged, and people just decimated by the puppets. Some kills look better than others, with the burn deaths being the least effective, but it was nice to see such vicious, practical gore on showcase. If your main interest is the red stuff, The Littlest Reich more than delivers. I wish the kills had more build up or creative presence, but gore is gore, so no real complaints. The dialogue has some fun moments, with colorful characters and over the top one liners, but not as consistently as I’d like. But the movie has a good sense of humor and does embrace the wackiness at times, so some fun lines come through. As for craziness, we have the graphic gore set pieces, some colorful characters, and a wacky sense of humor, but the movie never goes for broke on general insanity. The kills are the craziest element and the rest of the material keeps things reeled in for the most part.
Overall Insanity: 3/10