Puppet Master 4 (Also Known as, "Puppet Master 4: When Bad Puppets Turn Good or Puppet Master 4: The Demon) is a 1993 horror film written by Charles Band among others, and directed by Jeff Burr. It is the fourth film in the Puppet Master franchise, a sequel to 1991's Puppet Master II, and stars Gordon Currie as a youth scientist who, along with his friends, played by Chandra West, Ash Adams and Teresa Hill, is attacked by demons; the animated puppets of Andre Toulon serve to protect the group, similar to the role they played in the prequel Toulon's Revenge, rather than terrorize, as they had in the first and second films. Originally, Puppet Master 4 was intended to have the subtitle The Demon'.
Puppet Master 4, as well as the second, third, and fifth installments of the series, were only available in DVD format through a Full Moon Features box set that has since been discontinued. However, in 2007, Full Moon Features reacquired the rights to the first five films, and the boxset has since been reissued and is available directly from Full Moon, as well as through several online retailers.
In the underworld, the demon lord Sutekh sends forth a trio of diminutive servants called Totems, magically controlled by his netherworld minions, to kill those who possess the secret of animation, including the magic Andre Toulon used to give his puppets life. It transpires also that a team of researchers working on the development of artificial intelligence are close to discovering Toulon's secret. Sutekh sends one of the Totems as a package to two of the researchers involved, Dr. Piper and Dr. Baker of the Phoenix Division, who are taken by surprise, killed and stripped off their souls by the foul creature.
One of the researchers, a talented young man named Rick Myers, is working as a caretaker at the Bodega Bay Inn and has also been using it for a place to conduct his experiments on the A.I. project. The same night Drs. Piper and Baker are murdered, Rick's friends Suzie, Lauren, and Cameron come to visit him. At dinner, Lauren, who is a psychic, finds Blade (who had been discovered earlier by Rick inside the house and is still animate) and then Toulon's old trunk, with the puppets, Toulons diary and some phials with the life-giving formula inside. Out of curiosity, Rick and his friends use the fluid on the puppets, and one by one they awaken; next to Blade, they find Pinhead, Six Shooter, Tunneler and Jester. (Torch, who joins the puppet cast in the sequel, makes no appearance here.)
Fascinated by the puppets' spontaneous reactions, and believing that the formula is the answer to the running AI projects, Rick wants to see how smart they are by playing a laser tag game with Pinhead and Tunneler. Cameron, who is competing with Rick for success, tries to use the formula's secret for his personal gain, and he and Lauren decide to use a strange gameboard found in the trunk to try and contact Toulon for its exact composition (the recipe of which was not recorded in the diary). But the glowing pyramid icon which goes with the board is a conduit between the mortal world and the underworld; Sutekh uses the link to send two of his Totems to attack. Cameron and Lauren attempt to flee by car, but Cameron is ambushed by one of the Totems inside his car and killed, while Lauren manages to get back into the hotel. When Rick looks after Cameron, the Totem attacks him as well, but he manages to escape.
But inside the inn, the third Totem, sent in earlier by package, is also on the prowl. The puppets, intend on protecting Rick, search the hotel and soon manage to kill one of the Totems in the kitchen and, through its supervision link, its controller in the underworld. Then Toulon's spirit, who has been appearing around the hotel all night, tells the puppets to animate the Decapitron. Under Rick and Suzie's astonished eyes, the puppets move up to Rick's room, retrieve a box which contains yet another puppet with a soft plastic head, and revive it with the formula and a lightning strike. The two remaining Totems attack to disrupt the process, but one is electrocuted when Six Shooter uses a wire as a lariat to divert some of the lightning's power into the Totem. Decapitron briefly awakens, and his head morphs into the likeness of Toulon, who explains to Rick the origin and the secret of the life-giving formula. The phial, however, turns out to be missing; immediately suspecting Cameron, Rick goes back to search his body, where he does find the phial.
Meanwhile, the last Totem corners the panicked Lauren and prepares to drain her life away when Suzie interferes and douses it with acid. Toulon speaks through Lauren, urging Rick to animate Decapitron to destroy the Totem, and Rick uses his computer to divert power from his generator into Decapitron, bringing him to life. As the Totem attacks, Decapitron exchanges his plastic head for an electron-bolt launching system and destroys the creature. Afterwards, Toulon speaks to Rick yet again, surrendering custody of his puppets and the formula to him and promising his help in times of need.
- The Decapitron puppet idea was taken from an unfilmed movie entitled "Decapitron", which was to have been a big budget picture by Charles Band's previous studios Empire pictures. However, the studio went bankrupt before the project got off the ground.
- This movie was filmed back to back with Puppet Master 5.
- In 1999, a Puppet Master Spin-off featuring the Totems was released, titled Totems.
- The original plot of Puppet Master 4 involved a crossover of Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys franchises. While this was abandoned due to insufficient funding, the theme was later recycled for the 2004 film Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys.
- The poster of Puppet Master 4 erroneously depicts the puppet Torch, despite his lack of an appearance in the film itself. He does however appear in the film’s direct sequel, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter.
- When Rick, Susie and Cameron are examining the puppets before rick starts reading their names, a headless puppet, named Decapitron, can be seen lain between Pinhead and Tunneler, yet when Rick begins to read the names of the puppets, Decapitron vanishes, Pinhead and Tunneler are lain side–by–side.
- This film is different from its predecessors as Rick Meyers is now the new puppet master, as well as the puppets now fight for the side of good besides doing evil wicked things.
- Decapitron was the newest puppet introduced in this film. Decapitron was the life essence of Andre Toulon and his birth was very much like Frankenstein's. Lightning hitting the lightning rod and electrocuting the puppet to life.
- This film was shot back-to-back along with the next installment Puppet Master 5.
- This film is different from its predecessors in that Rick Meyers is now the new puppet master. Also, the puppets now fight for the side of good besides doing evil wicked things. It is said amongst fans that the puppets stand for whatever 'side' their masters are on. In the first four films, their respective masters wished to do harm on others-so the puppets would perform any terrible deed their master without hestitation. Once Rick is their master, who is a much more peaceful individual, they wish to protect him and hs companions-because that is what Rick himself would want.
- Decapitron was the newest puppet introduced in this film. Decapitron contained the life essence of Andre Toulon and "birth" was very much like Frankenstein's monster with lightning hitting the lightning rod and electrocuting the puppet to life.
- This film, along with Puppet Master II, III and 5 were only available on DVD through a Full Moon Features box set that is now out of print. The box also included the sixth and seventh chapters of the franchise and a bonus disc containing 45 movie trailers. This box set has yet to be re-released and chapters two through five have yet to be released individually on DVD.
- The puppet Torch apears in the poster, dispite not being in the film.