Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Women, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht, Kamikaze
Directed by Charles Band
Expectations: Moderately high. I enjoy the Puppet Master movies.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
If there’s one thing I love about the Puppet Master films, it’s Tunneler tunneling into people. The budgets on the modern Full Moon films ain’t what they used to be, so I’ve learned to set my expectations accordingly and I was not prepared to see Tunneler going full bore into a Nazi’s forehead within the opening five minutes of the film. I called for this in the review of the last Puppet Master film, and damn if Full Moon didn’t deliver!
In this tenth Puppet Master film (or eleventh if we’re counting the horrible, non-Full Moon Sci-Fi channel entry, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys), we pick up just the next day after the close of the last film, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil. It’s been over a year since I saw that one, so I don’t remember the finer details of where it ends. I recall everyone fighting on a stage and the good guys triumphing. Anyway, in this film Tunneler is quickly lost into Nazi hands and they set their resident puppet master to the task of reverse engineering him so that he can build a machine to resurrect people from the dead. How one leads to the other I don’t know, but whatever, it’s Part 10, what do you want? Anyway, the good guys Danny & Beth (here played by new, better actors) band together with an Army sergeant played by Brad Potts to take out the Nazi threat. That’s overly reductive, but it gives you the gist.
The new Nazi puppets are also a lot of fun, even if they’re only around towards the end of the movie. They fight our puppet heroes, but it’s pretty disappointing if you’re coming in expecting the old school stuff. Good thing I wasn’t! I actually really enjoyed the puppet battle. I wish it was longer and more drawn out (probably the first time I’ve said that about a Full Moon movie), but for what it was, it was a lot of fun. The puppeteering is also rather well done. These days all the puppets are rod puppets, which makes bringing them to life that much harder. It’s easy to sit back and criticize, but at the end of the day a lot of hard work went into the film and they did a great job with the budget they had. Sure, it doesn’t live up to the old days, but what modern Full Moon movie has? Those days are over, so in terms of the modern Full Moon film, Puppet Master: Axis Rising is hands down one of the most impressive entries.
The acting is also pretty good from most of the cast. Brad Potts was one of the best things about Zombies vs. Strippers, and he’s also one of the best things in Axis Rising. Give this man s’more work! He can actually act and he’s got some of the best facial expressions I’ve ever seen. C’mon, Charles! There’s gotta be a new series bangin’ around in your brain that you could wrap around this guy! How ’bout some sort of RoboCop-ish bionic cop that takes out dinosaurs? Just spitballin’, and maybe that’s outside your current budgets, but I’m sure we could kickstart the shit out of that! Anyway, the people who aren’t Brad Potts are also good, but not as good. I really enjoyed Oto Brezina as the Nazi’s puppet master, and Jean Louise O’Sullivan was a good fit for her role. The Nazis, on the other hand, weren’t as impressive, and by that I mean they were so bad they were great. Neither Stephanie Sanditz or Scott King could produce a consistent German accent to save their lives, but their failing, in-and-out accents were some of the most enjoyable moments in the film. Sanditz especially has some choice moments when you can almost feel the wind in your hair as she takes you on a whirlwind trip through Europe via her accent. I mean this all in good fun, of course, as it added a lot to the film, but others might not be so forgiving.
Next week on Full Moon Tuesday, it’s a trip back to the ’80s with the inner city action of Enemy Territory!