Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)

Starring George Appleby, Tonya Kay, Paul Logan, Kevin Scott Allen, Tania Fox, Alynxia America, Lilou Vos, Daniele Romer, Kyle Devero, Allen Perada, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Kip Canyon, Rob Vardaro

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Women, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If I remember right, sometime around the release of the last Puppet Master movie, 2012’s Axis Rising, Charles Band announced that Full Moon would give the people what they want and deliver a new Puppet Master film every year. They do it with the Evil Bong films, but with Puppet Master I thought it was an especially ambitious claim. It is one they did not make good on, but given the attention paid to the production of Puppet Master: Axis Termination it definitely ended up better for everyone. Five years is a long time, but a good movie is worth more than five half-ass ones with a meager handful of tepid thrills. So yeah, the new Puppet Master is a fantastic addition to the series.

The story is not the film’s strong point, but I doubt anyone would’ve expected it to be. It’s basically just Toulon’s puppets vs. the Nazi puppets like the previous Axis films, but now with better characters! Not in terms of their depth or anything high-brow like that, more like the vanilla-white couple of Danny (Kip Canyon) and Beth (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) are immediately killed off and replaced with a musclebound soldier (Paul Logan), the dwarf magician Dr. Ivan Ivanov from Decadent Evil (now played by George Appleby) and a voodoo priestess (Alynxia America). The Nazis boast a powerful magician of their own in Sturmbahnfurher Steiner Krabke (Kevin Scott Allen), as well as his boss, the strong-willed puppet master Doktor Gerde Ernst (Tonya Kay). Maybe I’m just rusty with my Puppet Master knowledge, but I don’t ever remember this kind of purely magical stuff in the series, but regardless I loved the flavor it added to the film.

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Trophy Heads (2014)

trophyheads_1Starring Adam Noble Roberts, Maria Olsen, Linnea Quigley, Jacqueline Lovell, Denice Duff, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Darcy DeMoss, Irena Murphy, Jessica Morris, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Amy Paffrath, Robin Sydney, Carel Struycken, Kristine DeBell, Gregory Niebel, Stuart Gordon, David DeCoteau, J. Scott

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: As long as it’s fun I’ll be satisfied, and with this many classic scream queens I don’t see how it won’t be fun.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


For many years now, Full Moon has made movies that a mainstream viewer, or even an old fan from the glory days who missed Full Moon’s last 15 years of questionable movies, wouldn’t hesitate to call “strange” or “out there” or “shit.” For those that stumble upon the movies unaware of what they’re getting themselves into (like the Redbox patrons), I’m sure the general reaction is something close to, “Who would watch this?” Hardcore Full Moon fans, that’s who! Throughout changing video landscapes and formats, Full Moon continues to pump out films for their fans (and pretty much no one else). So it makes perfect sense that their latest venture, Trophy Heads (which debuted in June as a five-part web series exclusively on Full Moon Streaming), is not just a film for their fans, but a film about those very fans.

Well… perhaps that’s a little too broad, as I doubt most Full Moon aficionados would kidnap our favorite stars, murder them, and mount their heads on the wall, but you get the idea. Anyway, yes, Trophy Heads is about a fan who rounds up six of his favorite ’80s scream queens, keeps them in his home-built basement dungeon, and then murders them while making them recreate situations from one of the Full Moon movies they were in way back when. There’s not really any depth beyond that, but as this is something directly for Full Moon fans, I don’t think anyone really cares. I certainly didn’t.

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Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012)

Starring Kip Canyon, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Brad Potts, Scott King, Stephanie Sanditz, Oto Brezina

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.

Continue reading Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012) →

The Dead Want Women (2012)

Starring Jessica Morris, Ariana Madix, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Circus-Szalewski, Eric Roberts, J. Scott, Robert Zachar, Jeannie Marie Sullivan

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: None. Hopefully it’s better than Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt, and something more than a simple softcore film.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


“Boys, that’s the thorniest rose I ever met.”

So speaks one of the many party guests during the opening scene of The Dead Want Women, and while it’d be easy to say that the line was a great analogy for the film, it just ain’t. See that would mean that despite the thorns and the discomfort and the blood, you’d have delicate beauty and sweet fragrances. Well… shit, the movie does kind of have all of that (except I’m imagining the sweet fragrances)… so what’s the matter? Through all the smoke and mirrors (and nudity), there isn’t much of a story here—but that’s OK, because it’s remarkably more of a movie than the last couple of Charles Band’s films were! Hurray!

Where his last film, Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt, was nothing more than an exercise in seeing just how boring he could make a movie about girls getting naked, The Dead Want Women is something slightly more. While it does feature a character that is completely nude in every scene she’s in, there’s actually a lot more substance here than you’d expect from Band’s recent track record. The film opens in the late 1920s when *GASP* a silent film star is being put out to pasture as the talkies take over. Fuck me running, if I have to watch another movie with this plot, I’ll kill someone, then make a silent movie about my experience but set it in the late 20s so that my character could be replaced by a plucky newcomer with a great voice, then watch that film and then kill myself. That should be enough to put that tired, old cliché to bed. Are all the film industry’s touchstones to the 1920s gleaned from Singin’ in the Rain? Anyway, our raspy-voiced silent film star isn’t too happy and one thing leads to another and she’s in an underground cave watching her actor friends fuck a couple of nubile females. Oh, these Hollywood types! They so crazy!

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