Oct 31, 2018

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

 As much as I would not want to admit it to my rather naive childhood self, horror franchises—or, more specifically, movie franchises in general—are a cynical insult to filmgoers and their intelligence, especially when one really considers how unbelievably horrible these solely monetary motivated sequels really are, but few better demonstrate such an obnoxious talent for churning out pointless no-budget sequel after pointless no-budget sequel than semitic smut-peddler Charles Bands’ uniquely worthless Full Moon Features. Indeed, the production and distribution company, which almost makes Troma Entertainment seem like Warner Bros Studios in terms of sheer artistic bankruptcy and lack of creativity, is notable for producing a number of strikingly terrible horror franchises over the past couple decades that seemingly no one watches or desires, as if the company is simply a laughable front for some money-laundering operation or something. Indeed, Full Moon is so shameless in terms of its patently pathetic propensity for defecating out mindless and worthless direct-to-video duds that it actually created a rip off its its own Puppet Master franchise—the company’s first and most successful series—with the rather literally named Demonic Toys, as if the Puppet Master films were not bad and unimaginative enough. Needless to say, I never thought I would bother to ever watch, let alone review, another film from the franchise, at least until relatively recently when I found a pretty good reason. A series reboot that was penned by talented auteur S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) and that thankfully has virtually nil association with Full Moon (though Charles Band acted as a hands-off executive producer, it is actually the very first film of the Fangoria Films relaunch), Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)—a delectably anti-politically-correct horror-comedy co-directed by Swedish duo Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund (Wither, Animalistic)—is unequivocally the greatest, most intelligent, and idiosyncratic film in the entire series. Vaguely artsy, gleefully gory and amoral, and even somewhat eccentric, the film is what you might expect from a counter-kosher nihilist that hated the Puppet Master franchise so much that he decided to completely dishonor its dubious legacy by making a malefic Mumblecore-like killer quirk piece where the very same puppets that fight Nazis in previous films became genocidal Jew-slaughtering toys of lilliputian Hitlerian terror.  Indeed, if there ever was a no-budget trash flick that seems like it was meant to bitingly troll superlatively sanctimonious shoah gatekeepers like Eli Wiesel and Abe Foxman and play them like marionettes, it is this film.

 Indeed, anyone familiar with Full Moons knows that, aside making retarded entertainment, they have always had a sort of insufferably insipid anti-Nazi fetish, which is surely the result of the company’s owner Charles Band—a Litvak-descended Jew—who, among other things, apparently talked director David Schmoeller into changing Crawlspace (1986) from an anti-Vietnam war tale to anti-Nazi one with Klaus Kinski portraying what is assuredly one of the most absurdly and inexplicably deranged National Socialist true believers in cinema history. Of course, Band did not stop there as he eventually introduced Nazis to his most famous franchise with Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge (1991). In fact, Band even created an entire sub-series of totally unwatchable anti-Nazi Puppet Master films known as the ‘Axis Saga,’ including Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010), Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012), and Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017). While the classic puppet characters like ‘Blade’ and ‘Pinhead’ fought against the Nazis in the original films, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich manages to disrespectfully mutilate and ultimately murder the entire Puppet Master mythos by having these very same puppets, as well as their eponymous creator André Toulon, portray Nazi spy killers that specifically target Jews, black, gays, and even gypsies. Probably to the great chagrin of Band, the anti-untermenschen motives of these characters ultimately makes them more intriguing than in the original films where they just seem like, well, mindless automatons. In fact, the puppets of the film oftentimes have more character (and even likeability) than the actual human characters, which was probably Band’s (ultimately failed) intent with the original films. Gorehounds will probably also be pleased to know that the film has the highest body count of all of the Puppet Master films, though what fans of the franchise like seems pretty irrelevant when one considers that this film was clearly was not made with fanboy nostalgia or sentimentalism in mind.  In that sense, it can be compared to the recent Star Wars franchise films like Rogue One (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), albeit in a good way.  After all, whereas the new Star Wars films were an insult to George Lucas and the white heterosexual male target audience that made the series so popular in the first place due to being totally tainted with social justice warrior agitprop and grating displays of gynocentrism, the newest Puppet Master film paints a big beautiful bloody swastika onto the souls of both Charles Band and the franchise's original fans.

 Despite the fact that he unfortunately had nil involvement in the actual directing of the film, screenwriter S. Craig Zahler—a relative novice that has demonstrated with only a handful of films that he is one of the best genre filmmakers working today—probably deserves the most credit for the spirit and overall positive qualities of the film. A music journalist turned filmmaker whose novels have been lauded by figures ranging from genre maestro filmmaker Walter Hill (The Warrior, The Driver) to legendary actor Kurt Russell to horror novelist Jack Ketchum, Zahler reveals much character in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich in spite of the film’s seemingly nonexistent budget and somewhat dubious direction (notably, co-directors Laguna and Wiklund have mostly dabbled in no-brain/no-budget digital horror trash and simply cannot be seen as true ‘auteur’ filmmakers). With his directorial debut Bone Tomahawk (2015)—a sort of seamless horror-western hybrid of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980)—Zahler demonstrated a natural directing talent for nuanced depictions of human failings and visceral ultra-violence. With his second feature Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)—a moody and broody cinematic work with a fitting Siegel-esque title—Zahler revealed he could outdo his heroes like John Carpenter and Walter Hill by bringing a smidgen of arthouse cred and artful nuance to brute violence, gross criminality, and extreme character conflicts. Had Zahler directed Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, it would have unequivocally been a much better film, even if the auteur is not exactly known for his dark humor. Although I can only speculate his motivations, Zahler’s screenplay feels like a fun exercise in anti-fanboy postmodernism where the writer gleefully destroys a mostly worthless and forgettable franchise that probably has some sort of nostalgic significance to him but he felt was in desperate need of killing. After all, there is nothing more ‘safe’ and banally conformist than a film about puppets killing Nazis, so naturally the opposite scenario—in a sort of completely unexpected Mumblecore form no less—makes for a provocative film as demonstrated by the various obviously offended reviews from both professional and amateur (as well as Jewish and goy) reviewers. 

In fact, some people are so offended by Zahler’s work that, despite the fact he is Jewish, they have accused the auteur of being a neo-Nazi of sorts. Indeed, in a stereotypical whiny and pathetic article entitled ‘Is S. Craig Zahler a White Supremacist?,’ a young autistic Jew-boy complains, “It’s pretty clear that S. Craig Zahler has a formula for his fiction. Irredeemably evil minorities + damsel in distress threatened with sexual violence+ heroic Aryan(s)+ violent climax= jackpot!” Of course, what this hysterical Hebrew is really complaining about is the fact that Zahler prefers working within traditional western themes and does not contaminate his work with the social justice disease, Marxist sermonizing, nor phony token nonwhite characters, which is typical of contemporary Hollywood. Of course, as a member of the chosen tribe that has confessed that his favorite filmmaker is Sidney Lumet—a socially conscious Jew that directed such classic unAryan titles as 12 Angry Men (1957), The Fugitive Kind (1960), and Serpico (1973), among various other examples—Zahler would have hardly made the cut if he had a time-machine and traveled back to the Third Reich in a desperate attempt to get a job with Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ studio (though, as recounted by the filmmaker himself in Godard's Contempt (1963), it should be noted that half-heeb Fritz Lang claimed that he was actually offered such a lofty position).

Clearly a sane and masculine-minded individual that is able to appreciate art despite the politics of a particular artist, Zahler once revealed in an interview with the self-described ‘extreme music journal’ Worm Gear in regard to his preternatural interest in counter-kosher art, “I’m a (non-practicing) Jewish dude, but reviewed bands with white power or fascistic leanings, because I have an ‘art over politics’ viewpoint, and even though Mike G was sensitive about this stuff, he and Wagner still ran reviews—often positive—of this material. People have a right to hate whomsoever they want to hate and also to express that feeling. Charles Dickens has a ton of anti-Semitic shit in his work, and he is a writer I like who was an inspiration to me as a young fiction writer. I’ve just never felt the best way to respond to intolerance is by returning the sentiment—partially because that is the desired response to intolerance.” Undoubtedly, if most Jews and left-wingers had a more reasonable attitude like Zahler does, the United States would not be on the brink of a second civil war, which is somewhat ironic considering that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich depicts dolls waging a war against the very same sort of oh-so sensitive people that would want such a film banned and, for that very reason alone, it is much more important than the average hokey horror-comedy turd. 

Just like most of the films Zahler has been involved with, Teutonic Über-queen Udo Kier—an unquestionably strangely charming chap that, not unlike fine wine, seems to get better with age—plays a small but unforgettable role in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich as the eponymous figure André Toulon. Of course, in this (anti)sequel, Toulon is more of an antagonist than protagonist, but I could not help but root for him, as Herr Kier almost always comes off as distastefully likeable.  A effortlessly effete ex-Nazi spy of half-French/half-German parentage, Toulon is depicted at the very beginning of the film slumming it at a soulless hipster bar in Postville, Texas in 1989. When Toulon tries to strike up a conversation with a female bartender and she gleefully attempts to piss him off by making out with her dyke friend, he mumbles “disgusting homosexuals” and subsequently summons his Nazi puppets to dispatch the extra cunty carpet-munchers. The cops eventually later catch Toulon in the act in his Hitler house of horrors using occult powers to kill subhumans, so they naturally kill him out of impulsive disgust. Flash forward three decades later to present day in Dallas, Texas and beta-boy divorcee Edgar Easton (Thomas Lennon)—a comic book nerd that writes comics and works at a comic store owned by his insufferably snarky semitic friend Markowitz (Nelson Franklin)—plans a road trip to a convention to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders because he owns one of the original Toulon puppets and plans to sell it there. Unbeknownst to Edgar, the ‘Blade’ puppet, which he finds in his deceased brother’s room, was also responsible for killing said deceased brother. Unfortunately for him, Edgar mistakes the uniquely unwitting mistake of bring his Jewish pal-cum-boss and new hot blonde girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer, who is the half-Norwegian niece of suicidal One-Eyed Jacks (1961) star Pina Pellicer) to a convention that is eventually blitzkrieged by a motley crew of nasty National Socialist puppets. Needless to say, as a place that details the history of an infamous Nazi where various expensive knickknacks and dolls are sold, the convention is flooded with Nazi-obsessed Jews so the puppets naturally decide to carryout a rather nasty Säuberung worthy of the Dirlewanger Brigade.  While none of the puppets resemble Dr. Dirlewanger, Blade somewhat fittingly resembles a corpse-like Dr. Goebbels.

While Edgar might technically be the lead character, Markowitz is, for better or worse (I’d certainly choose the latter), certainly the most dominat and unforgettable, namely because he is a whiny neurotic loudmouth kosher cuckold of the stereotypically slave-morality-ridden sort that has Nazis on the brains, thereupon making his (rather pathetic) inevitable murder at the hand of a Hitlerian marionettes all the more grotesquely fitting. For example, when Edgar tells him that he will not be able to play his favorite music (e.g. grindcore) in the car and that he will have to pay for gas if he accompanies him to the convention, Markowitz retorts in a stereotypical smartass fashion by calling his goy pal “Genghis McHitler.” Likewise, when the friends check into the convention hotel and the front desk clerk remarks, “You must be Markowitz,” the Hebraic nerd bitchily retorts, “Why? ‘Cause I look like a Jew?,” thus underscoring his glaring lack of self-esteem and paranoia when it comes to his race-cum-religion. In short, Markowitz is what Woody Allen might be like if he was a chubby millennial anime nerd. When the puppets start killing, Markowitz—a grade-A four-eyed wuss with a flabby body and poor motor skills—declares in what is undoubtedly one of the most unintentionally hilarious one-liners in cinema history, “I got about six million reasons why” in regard to his decision to man-up and take on the terrifying toys that are exterminating his race.  Needless to say, things do not goo too well for Markowitz.

While it takes a little bit too long for the Hitlerian puppets to start killing, once it begins it feels like it never stops. The first notable death scene at the convention involves are yarmulke-sporting Jew named Jason and his wife. While looking for his missing ‘Kaiser’ puppet in the room, Jason rationalizes his somewhat curious collection of Third Reich material to his wife by arguing, “Lots of Jewish people collect Nazi memorabilia – medals, pamphlets, posters, stuff like that. My Uncle Shelley does. It’s a reminder, sure, but there’s also a feeling of empowerment there, you know? Like saying to the Nazis, ‘Your big plans of genocide and world domination didn’t work, and now your symbols are nothing more than trinkets for us, to collect, souvenirs of your failure and our survival.’” Rather ironically, only seconds after making his boastful Jewish power declaration, Jason finds his Kaiser, which proceeds to literally torch both him and his wife in what proves to be a literal two-person holocaust. Indeed, aside from knocking off his yarmulke, the flames reduces the faces of the couple to mere bone (or a sort of kosher ‘totenkopf’). In a nearby room, a flying puppet named ‘Autogyro’ decapitates a gypsy while he is taking a leak and the headless gypsy even manages to piss on his own head after it falls into the toilet. After that, ‘Blade’ disembowels and slits the throat of a drunk blond gallery-owning queer shortly after he lies to his mother on the telephone about quitting drinking. In another room, a fat bull-dyke calls out for her girlfriend ‘Anne’ in the bathroom and is naturally dismayed when she finds her blue naked corpse in bathtub in what initially seems like a suicide but is ultimately something much stranger. In what is undoubtedly the most grisly and unforgettable killing scene, a puppet named ‘Money Lender’—an archetypal hook-nosed rabbi-like Jew with claws that match his schnoz—enters a pregnant negress’ vagina and eventually exists her bloated stomach with the woman’s fetus in its hands in a scenario that surely can be seen as symbolic of the millions of black babies aborted by Jewish doctors in the United States since the landmark legal decision of Roe v. Wade Supreme Court in 1973.  Undoubtedly, this scene is almost as shocking as Hebraic ex-abortionist Bernard Nathanson's classic anti-abortion doc The Silent Scream (1984), but I digress.

While Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich naturally does not have much in the way of a plot, it does have a lot of lame hipster-esque one-liners and whining, especially from Jew Markowitz, who states to protagonist Edgar after getting his fat neck slit by Blade, “Dedicate your next comment to me: to a great…Jewish hero. Shalom, amigo.” Before croaking, Markowitz, who is certainly no hero, makes a rather pathetic beta-boy attempt at courting a uniquely unattractive Asian girl named Nerissa (Charlyne Yi) who, like the ill-fated Jew, has an unhealthy anime obsession. In what is undoubtedly one of the most (seemingly unintentional?) hilarious scenes in the film, Nerissa dies brutally as a result of her skull hitting pavement after making a failed attempt to jump out of a two-story window and into a dumpster in what feels like a sad commentary on the athletic capabilities of nerdy Asian fangirls.  After all, Nerissa is the only character whose death is not the result of a Nazi puppet.  Aside from possibly a negro bartender named ‘Cuddly Bear,’ who is brutally savaged by the puppets but whose true fate is never really revealed, none of the non-white/non-straight characters survive the genocidal puppet show. Being the white heterosexual male protagonist, it is naturally up to Edgar to save the day, but he’s too much of a stereotypical modern-day spiritually castrated pussy to even accomplish that. Indeed, upon somehow magically realizing that Toulon is somehow alive (or, more specifically, ‘undead’) as a zombie and that he’s using occult powers to control the puppets from the luxury of his resting place, Edgar crashes his car into the extra necrotic Nazi's fancy mausoleum. While this causes the puppets to lose their powers and thus stop killing, it quite predictably pisses zombie Toulon off and he instantly begins trying to kill Edgar and Ashley. While Edgar tries in vain to put up a valiant fight, Toulon grabs a luger out of a special Nazi suitcase and puts a bullet in Ashley’s brain. In the end, Ashley is dead, Toulon gets away by slowly fleeing into nearby woods, and Edgar translates his story into a heartbroken issue of his comic series ‘Madame Lightning.’ While signing copies of his cryptically autobiographically comic, a young fan asks Edgar if he plans to write more comics and he replies, “Yeah, probably. I don’t feel like things are fully resolved” and then the film predictably concludes with an inter-title that reads, “To Be Continued.” 

As someone that is relatively familiar with various forms of National Socialist aesthetics and occultism/esotericism, I was somewhat disappointed that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich did not really exploit this material. For example, at the very least, Toulon’s lair and/or mausoleum could have featured völkisch symbols like the ‘Schwarze Sonne’ (aka ‘Black Sun’), runes, and/or the quite alluring Ahnenerbe emblem. Additionally, aside from the skull-faced ‘Blade’ (apparently, three different versions of the puppet were used for the film) and ‘Money Lender,’ most of the puppets were simply too goofy to be taken seriously, especially ‘Happy Amphibian,’ ‘Grasshüpfer,’ and ‘Mr. Pumper.’ Undoubtedly, the filmmakers probably should have sought inspiration from Prussian auteur Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s magnum opus Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977), which features genuinely creepy puppets of Nazi bigwigs like Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and Göring. In fact, I would argue that the life-size puppets in the criminally-underrated British Angela Carter adaptation The Magic Toyshop (1987) directed by David Wheatley are much creepier the ones in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, but then again, a pretty large percentage of audience members would probably find the film to be too disturbing if it took a more serious approach. After all, it is first and foremost a kitschy and sometimes even sardonic dark-comedy, as it would probably be impossible to take it serious if was anything else, hence one of the various reasons why Zahler probably opted to not direct the film himself. 

While I doubt it was the filmmakers’ conscious intention (though it might have be, at least partly, especially screenwriter Zahler’s), Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich can certainly be seen as an ‘unconventional’ commentary on the holocaust and the legacy of Third Reich in the modern age, especially in regard to young American Jews that have no real connection to that era. Personally, I was somewhat shocked to learn that Zahler was a Jew after seeing his features like Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 they are are highly masculine and testosterone-fueled cinematic works with traditional western themes that feature none of the insufferable sort of Judaic slave-morality sermonizing or race hustling that you expect from the stereotypical contemporary Jewish filmmakers ranging from Spielberg to Judd Apatow to J.J. Abrams, so I find it especially interesting that the Jews featured in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich are unlikeable holocaust-obsessed neurotics and narcissistic wimps that seem driven by a pathological obsession with antisemitism, hence the nerdy Jew named Jason who brags that he collects Nazi memorabilia specifically because it provides him with a certain “feeling of empowerment.” I do not think it is any coincidence that he is the first character killed in the film as his mentality and overall demeanor epitomizes what gentiles find most loathsome about Israelites.

While various Jewish intellectuals ranging from Karl Marx to Otto Weininger to Gilad Atzmon have theorized about the motivation behind Jewish self-loathing and self-obsession, Charles Manson, who knew a number of prominent Jewish gangsters in prison, of all people once provided one of the more interesting arguments behind this. Indeed, in a 1989 interview with Penny Daniels, Manson, who sometimes made insightful statements in between his esoteric gibberish, remarked in regard to the Jewish tendency of Hitler (anti)worship and the strange tendencies in relation to his Jewish cellmate Jerry Milman, “How do you have peace on this earth? You can’t have peace on this earth unless you let the Second World War die. You wanna keep the Second World War going?! You wanna keep selling and buying Germans and dead Indians on TV every day? You know, that’s got to stop. The Second World War’s got to stop. And its got in the Jews. The Jews won’t let the Second World War stop. They keep the Second World War going […] they keep perpetuating it because they’re making money! As soon as the Second World War was over, they never stopped the brainwashing. The brainwashing they were selling the American public was making money […] Their not gonna stop making money! If the combination is there to make money, their gonna keep selling it. They’ll sell it all the way until I’m in the cell with a guy name Milman. Jerry Milman. And he’s got pictures of Hitler and Japanese and things and all . . . and I said, ‘Boy, Hitler must’ve been a hell of a guy,’ and he said, “Hitler was terrible. I hate him! I hate him!’ I said, ‘Why do you hate him?’ He said, ‘I’m a Jew.’ I said, ‘Why do you enshrine this guy? Is he your daddy?’ And he looked up to his mother’s fear. And his mother’s fear was Hitler. Hitler was like his father figure. He loved Hitler . . . but he hated Hitler. He needed Hitler to hold him up. Because Hitler was holding his hate up. Because, without his hate, he didn’t exist. He didn’t have no reason to live unless he had some hate. He didn’t have any reason to buy and sell unless the money held him up. If you took the money away from him, if you took the hate away from him . . . he’d be gone.”  Clearly, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a film that is a venomously sardonic assault on the very sort of archetypal Jew that Manson mentioned in his rant. Notably, more recently, Jewish American Olympian wrestler Mark Schultz, who was depicted in the Foxcatcher (2014), made a similarly and no less academically unsound argument when he offended his fellow Jews on Twitter by writing on August 14, 2018 (in a now-deleted tweet), “Jews win by sticking together against divided gentiles. Jews love persecution. It justifies offense and reinforces the need for strength in numbers to divide and conquer gentiles.”  While just speculation, I can only assume that Zahler's intention with the film was to drive a proverbial stake through the the perennial Hebraic vampire of Judaic victimhood, which the original Puppet Master franchise undoubtedly contributed to.

Undoubtedly, despite its surely shallow anti-Nazi angle, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is—whether intentional or not (I can only assume the former)—a critique of American post-holocaust Jewry and its own sick propensity towards neurotic self-worship. Just as the Halloween or Friday the 13th slasher flicks depict dumb pretty Aryan teenagers being dispatched for committing sins of the flesh, the Jews and other ‘minorities’ in the film become victims of their own sinful Hebraic hubris. While it would be easy to write-off screenwriter Zahler as a stereotypical self-loathing Jew, that would be too simple and ignores the rest of his highly masculine (read: unkosher) and master-morality oriented oeuvre. In short, Zahler seems to have mostly have transcended his Jewishness, hence why he had no qualms about casting living legend Mel Gibson in his latest feature Dragged Across Concrete (2018). Indeed, as the great Otto Weininger once wrote, “The antisemitism of the Jew, then, proves that nobody who knows the Jew regards him as lovable—not even the Jew himself. The antisemitism of the Aryan supplies the no less significant insight that Judaism must not be confused with the Jews. There are Aryans who are more Jewish than many Jews, and there are really some Jews who are more Aryan than certain Aryans.”  Surely, considering Zahler's less than hysterical attitude towards antisemites and antisemitic art, it can be said that he has, at least partly, transcended his own innate Jewishness.  Likewise, the typical Jewish filmmaker could not have created a film like Brawl in Cell Block 99 where a white blue collar worker commits a sort of twisted modern Christ-like sacrifice and, as Weininger also wrote, “Christ was a Jew, but only in order to overcome Judaism in himself most completely, since the firmest believer is he who has overcome the most powerful doubt, and the most positive affirmer he who has risen above the most dreary negation.” 

Unlike a lot of cinema, Zahler’s films, including Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, reject the metaphysical diseases of modernity and as Weininger wrote over a century ago in regard to modernity, “Our present age shows Judaism at the highest peak it has climbed since the days of Herod. The spirit of modernity is Jewish, wherever one looks at it. Sexuality is affirmed and today’s specifies ethic sings the wedding hymn to sexual intercourse. The unfortunate Nietzsche is certainly not responsible for the grand union of natural selection and natural fornication, whose despicable apostle is called Wilhelm Bölsche. He appreciated asceticism and thought its opposite more desirable only because he suffered too much from his own. But women and Jews are matchmakers; their aim is to make humanity guilty.” Aside from being responsible for a cinema that emphasizes heroism and strength over guilt and neuroticism and family love over soulless lust, Zahler creates films that promote sacrifice over self-worship and thus cannot be seen as in any way characteristically Jewish. While David Mamet—a right-wing Zionist Jew that attacks any Jew that rejects his race and/or religion—might have once wrote, “The quiddity of the self-loathing Jew, the opted-out Jew is his grotesquerie […] his efforts at assimilation foiling the possibility of contentment with a group to which he actually belongs”—Zahler seems content due to the fact that he has transcended his Jewishness and not simply because he has fallen victim to ‘assimilation.’ After all, how could a Jew assimilate into an industry and culture that is covertly, if not overtly, kosher?! Additionally, Zahler is not helping his career by creating films involving Jews being blow-torched by puppets or muscular white proles exterminating entire gangs of Mexicans singlehandedly, so one can only come to the conclusion that he is an unequivocal auteur that is driven to create a deeply personal, albeit genre-oriented, that comes straight from the soul.

Undoubtedly, the subversive nature of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich becomes clear when one compares it to John Landis’ surprisingly pathos-ridden An American Werewolf in London (1981)—a clear expression of culturally schizophrenic Jewish-American identity—where the auteur reveals his deep-seated Jewish paranoia in a nightmare scenario where a brigade of demonic Nazi werewolves quite literally holocausts his entire family in a dream-sequence that seems somewhat out of place in the film, at least if one does not realize it is a cinematic work that is fundamentally about Judaic introspection. Where it is clear that Landis is obsessed with Nazis and antisemitism in his classic kosher werewolf flick, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a film that makes a mockery of such sentiments by gleefully depicting the most seemingly benign children’s playthings brutally liquidity an eclectic collection of victim-mentality-ridden untermenschen, thereupon killing the very spirit and essence of Charles Band’s franchise in the process. 

In preparation for this review, I attempted to (re)watch Puppetmaster (1989) and Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge (1991) but, unlike Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, I found myself being unable to really concentration on the banality of it all. Indeed, I am willing to go as far as saying without even the slightest bit of exaggeration that the famous final segment “Amelia” of the classic made-for-television anthology horror film Trilogy of Terror (1975) features more delightfully deranged doll action and eccentric excitement than all of the original Puppet Master films combined. It is also no surprise that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich shares something in common with Trilogy of Terror—a film where a so-called ‘Zuni Fetish doll’ takes on a dumb bitch chick—in that, on top of the fact that it features a puppet taking over the body of a human, it utilizes Lovecraftian tier fright tactics in its utilization of historical socio-cultural racial paranoia and animosity to stoke fear (whereas Black Devil Doll From Hell (1984) fails in that regard because it was made for blacks by blacks and thus comes off as superlatively silly).  Notably, one of my earliest movie memories is being exciting about the fact my parents were able to grab a new release copy of Child's Play 3 (1991) at a local store video store, yet now it is nearly impossible for me to take any of these toy horror shit seriously thus making it seem like a miracle that I was even able to enjoy Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich.

Interestingly, in his book The Mask Jews Wear: The Self-Deceptions of American Jewry (1973), Reform Judaism Rabbi Eugene B. Borowitz—a philosopher from a more liberal strand of Judaism that is arguably atheistic and promotes a assimilationist tendencies—reveals a certain shame and repulsion towards Occidental civilization, arguing, “I therefore have much sympathy for the concept of Black Power. As a Jew, I know personally that one can never truly be a person as long as he looks at himself with the eyes of those who hate him. I do not see how Jews can dodge the fact that, religious and social traditions aside, much of the best of Western literature from Marlowe to T.S. Eliot sees the Jew as intruder or enemy. So, every Jew appropriating even the best of this civilization must sooner or later come to terms with the scandal, the disgrace of his Jewishness. And this is one reason why we wear Marrano masks with such fixity—they enable us to escape from our stigmatized inner selves; they proclaim us to be just like everyone else.”  When I watch Zahler's films, I certainly don't sense this shame or repugnance towards the West, as they are cinematic works that express the opposite.  For that reason alone, I certainly would nominate Zahler to ‘Honorary Aryan’ status, even though his favorite filmmaker is Sidney Lumet.

As for a potential sequel that is hinted at quite blatantly at the conclusion of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, the possibilities seem endless but I think the coolest concept would involve the puppets heading to the nightmarish Unite the Right of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  After all, the counter-protestors were comprised of a rather eclectic collection of degenerates that the puppets would clearly love targeting, though somehow I think they would go after Richard Spencer too.

-Ty E

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