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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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) →

Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (2004)

Starring Corey Feldman, Vanessa Angel, Danielle Keaton, Silvia Suvadova, Nikoli Sotirov, Dessislava Maicheva, Velizar Binev, Angelina Hadjimitova, Anton Falk

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Six Shooter, Baby Oopsy Daisy, Jack Attack, Grizzly Teddy

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Extremely low, this is a knock-off Puppet Master movie made for the Sci-Fi channel. There’s no way it’s good.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
onestar


Finally, the moment Full Moon fans have waited for! Two giant Full Moon franchises collide in an epic tale of good vs. evil! Except instead of Full Moon, the Sci-Fi Channel produced it and it’s awful? Yep, sad but true. It does have Corey Feldman if that sweetens the deal any… yeah, didn’t think it would. Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys is a non-canon tale of the two groups meeting up, aping a bit of both series’ mythology and combining everything into a jumbled mess. Corey Feldman is Robert Toulon, a descendant of the puppet master who is trying to perfect the puppet animation formula. Meanwhile the head of Sharpe Toys wants to capture the toys for some reason that isn’t entirely clear (even after watching the entire film), and she also has made a deal with Bael to handover Toulon’s blood to fulfill some ancient pact.

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Mini-Review: Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)

Starring (New Footage): Jacob Witkin, Kate Orsini

Starring (Stock Footage): William Hickey, Charlie Spradling, Sage Allen, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Aron Eisenberg, Gordon Currie, Chandra West, George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Greg Sestero, Brigitta Dau, Stephen Blackehart, Jack Donner

Puppet Cast (New Footage): Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Six Shooter, Tunneler

Puppet Cast (Stock Footage): Egyptian Goblin, Leech Woman, Doctor Death, Drill Sergeant, Cyclops, Retro Blade, Retro Pinhead, Retro Six Shooter, Torch, Decapitron, Tank

Directed by Charles Band (as Robert Talbot)

Expectations: Extremely low, this is Puppet Master 8 and it’s mostly stock footage.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
onehalfstar


Okay, so this film is about 90-95% stock footage from the previous films in the series. This should discredit Puppet Master: The Legacy almost immediately, but wait! Don’t write it off just yet! There are two reasons why you might want to give this one a chance. First, if you’re a big fan you’ll want to see it for Full Moon’s somewhat noble attempt to place all the Puppet Master films in some sort of proper, epic order. Why make the films in your most popular series make sense chronologically the first time around, when you can produce a completely separate compilation film later on to “set things right”? There’s also a small framing storyline that actually ties into the series mythology in a fun, minor way for the hardcore fans, while technically serving this film as a bridge between the sections of stock footage. The other reason to watch this would be if you’ve never seen any of the Puppet Master films, and you have no intention of rooting through seven whole films before getting to this one. The film actually sums up the entirety of the series in a slim runtime just over 70 minutes! That’s either a very impressive editing job or a sad commentary on the amount of interesting story within the Puppet Master series, but I’ll go with the former.

Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s a bunch of stock footage. What else is there to say? The framing story is shaky, but it’s cool to see Evil Bong‘s Jacob Witkin get roped into the Puppet Master franchise in such a fun story twist. Nevermind that they never really explain anything that happens in between the previous films, so even with an entire film devoted to setting things right, there’s still a degree of mystery. I would expect no less from my friends at Full Moon. They also completely avoid any recap or footage from the awful Puppet Master 5, much to my delight.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite moments. During the flashback to Curse of the Puppet Master, they show one of the kills that features some stock footage from Puppet Master II. And then later in this film, they showed the scene from Puppet Master II that contained the shot that was aped for the later sequence in Curse of the Puppet Master. Puppet Master nerd laughs ahoy!

Dumb jokes aside, unless you’re really hardcore for Puppet Master or you want a quick rundown of the series’ greatest hits, watch something other than Puppet Master: The Legacy.

Next week, the Puppet Master-a-thon continues with the made for TV film starring Corey Feldman, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys!

Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

curse-of-the-puppet-master-movie-poster-1020540866Starring George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Michael D. Guerin, Michael Sollenberger, Marc Newburger, Scott Boyer, Jason Dean Booher, Robert Donavan, Jason-Shane Scott

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Six Shooter, Matt, Tank

Directed by David DeCoteau (as Victoria Sloan)

Expectations: Pretty low after the last one.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


After the abysmal Puppet Master 5, Charles Band wisely gave the series a few years off before coming out with film number six, Curse of the Puppet Master. It’s a definite improvement in the trajectory of the franchise, returning to the basic suspense / horror framework from the initial three films. Curse of the Puppet Master is not without its share of problems though, but thankfully they don’t detract from the fun too much as long as you’re willing to just roll with them.

It all starts on a dark and stormy night (really, it does) as a shadowy figure that looks like André Toulon shuffles past our puppet friends who are imprisoned in a large cage. He carries a medicine bag into the forest and then sets it on fire. It’s clear that something just isn’t right about all of this, but you’ll just have to stew in it a while longer before all the chips are in hand. If I give away too much of the story, the whole she-bang will unravel because this plot has been around the block more times than a French whore. As I’ve said before though, if they are able to fill in the gaps with good FX and quality filmmaking, I’m game every day of the week. Director David DeCoteau keeps the film fresh with some clever shots and atmospheric lighting, resulting in a film that provides enough fun to satisfy long-time fans, as well as introduce newcomers to the puppets and their unique brand of mayhem.

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Puppet Master 5 (1994)

Starring Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ian Ogilvy, Teresa Hill, Guy Rolfe, Nicholas Guest, Willard E. Pugh, Diane McBain, Duane Whitaker

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter, Torch, Decapitron, Totem Demons

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Fairly high, because I enjoyed the last one so much.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-Movie scale:
onehalfstar


Oh Full Moon, why do you forsake me? Puppet Master 4 satisfied me from end-to-end and I was sure that the concurrently shot sequel would be another equally satisfying series entry. Hey, it worked for Trancers 4 & 5, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work here as Puppet Master 5 is two steps down in every way. They really had nothing to go on in this one, seemingly packing all the good stuff into Part 4 and dredging up whatever bullshit was stuck to the bottom of their shoes for this one. Puppet Master 5 is not without its fun moments, but like a thumbnail umbrella in a rain storm of shit, they are almost unnoticeable.

Puppet Master 5 picks up with our new puppet master, Rick (Gordon Currie), in police custody for the murders that the demon totems performed in the previous film. He gets out on bail and goes back to the hotel to retrieve the rest of the puppets and then… I don’t know what. The end goal is never really spelled out. Meanwhile, the new leader of the A.I. project takes three goons (including Christopher Guest’s brother Nicholas Guest) to the hotel to retrieve the puppets for himself. Alongside all that, Sutekh the Egyptian demon transfers his life essence into a final totem demon and sends it through the pyramid portal to the hotel. Shockingly, all of these masterful elements combine to form a tour de force train wreck of a movie. Who would have guessed?

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Puppet Master 4 (1993)

Starring Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ash Adams, Teresa Hill, Guy Rolfe, Felton Perry, Stacie Randall, Michael Shamus Wiles, Dan Zukovic

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter, Decapitron, Totem Demons

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Moderate. The series has been solidly fun so far.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


Puppet Master 4 surprised me right from the start, sinking its hooks and refusing to let go until the credits rolled. Maybe it was the natural high from just coming home from a short vacation, but I thoroughly enjoyed Puppet Master 4 for all its crazy and campy B-movie fun. Many, even fans of the first three films, will instantly discredit the film due to its strange, rubber-suited Egyptian demon opening, but I couldn’t rip my eyes from the screen.

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