Reviews | Written by Nick Spacek 08/08/2018


Since 1990's Cat in the Brain, the last score Fabio Frizzi did for director Lucio Fulci, the composer has scored rather infrequently, with the majority of his work for Italian televsion or short films. With the exception of 2016's Abbraccialo per me and House of Forbidden Secrets in 2013, Frizzi has been rather absent from the world of feature film scoring for the better part of two and a half decades.

Since Mondo's 2012 repress of Frizzi's score for the 1981 Fulci masterpiece The Beyond, there's been a renewed interest in the composer's work. This has led to a successful touring program, Frizzi 2 Fulci, where Frizzi and a band perform some of his most iconic music live while the cinematic images play out on a screen behind them. It would therefore make a great deal of sense that someone would inevitably hire the master to compose music for a genre picture. That picture is The Littlest Reich, the latest in the seemingly unending string of Full Moon's Puppet Master films, of which this new reboot is the 13th installment.

The plot seems very appropriate for a Fabio Frizzi score: all hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at a convention celebrating the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time.

Considering this is both the debut film and soundtrack under the Fangoria Presents from Cinestate aegis, it's appropriate that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich harkens back to '70s soundtracks with Frizzi's music and the '80s video boom with a former Full Moon property, and ties into modern genre film, coming from writer S. Craig Zahler (Brawl In Cell Block 99 and Bone Tomahawk). It's the perfect thing to accompany the rebirth of Fangoria.

The music is a subtle change from Richard Band's work for the other films in the Puppet Master series. While Band does contribute one piece of music to the score of The Littlest Reich - the sweeping "The Origins of Puppet Master Theme", which is the American composer's finest work for the series in ages - the rest of the score comes from Frizzi.

While Frizzi's music has similar tones to Band's many compositions for the franchise, especially in the way it utilises melancholic violins and strings, it's the manner in which the Italian musician uses electronic instrumentation that draws the most attention. Whereas Band's work was always symphonic by way of electronic, Frizzi characteristically uses electronics as electronics. Instead of having them reproduce the sound of an orchestra, he instead draws attention with the Clint Mansell chimes of "Third Floor Hallway" and the insistant pulse of "Carnage Hotel," updating the music of the series while still acknowledging its history.

For the most part, Frizzi's updating sticks to the formula of the series, but "Puppet Cellar Workshop" combines elements of Frizzi's instantaneously recognisable Mellotron chorus with a harder-edged almost industrial beat, whereas the bonus track, "Toulon's Platoon", could easily stand alongside Frizzi's slow, evil marches from City Of The Living Dead and Zombie Flesh Eaters.

While listeners might have had to wait a long time for a new feature-length Fabio Frizzi score, the way in which the composer throws himself into bringing something new to this rebooted Puppet Master franchise makes The Littlest Reich a welcome addition to his discography.