Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012)

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2013)

The Battle Is Over. The War Has Just Begun!

After the destruction of the secret German armoury, some of Andre Toulon’s puppets find themselves in the hands of the Nazis who are hoping to discover the secrets of resurrection and create an army of fallen soldiers to win the war. But Danny and his girlfriend, instrumental in stopping them the first time around, teams up with the remaining puppets in an attempt to rescue their comrades and put an end to these German schemes once and for all.

 

The killer puppets are back for the tenth instalment of the Puppet Master series (eleventh if you include Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys which is not considered part of the series) though you’ll forgive me for greeting another sequel with apathy. Aside from the first three films, the rest of the Puppet Master has, quite frankly, blowed. Somehow, after twenty-three years since the original, the films are still being made. Though I guess that’s down the fact that people like me still watch them in the hope that they recapture their past glories.

Picking up after the events of Puppet Master: Axis of Evil, Puppet Master X: Axis Rising continues the World War II-themed plot to milk more out of its Nazi bad guys (and no doubt the same sets and props to save on coin) with the main characters being played by new actors (and no doubt cheaper than the originals – starting to see a pattern emerging?) and the puppets once again standing around watching everything like spectators. Puppet Master must surely be Full Moon’s biggest money spinner (or only money spinner for that matter) so I don’t see why these films have been shafted when it comes to budgets. They seem to get progressively smaller and smaller with each film and this is no exception. Long-time producer Charles Band stepped behind the camera for this one, no doubt the most desperate cost-cutting measure available.

There are only a handful of characters in the film, the same two or three sets are re-used and there’s hardly anything in the way of special effects. Gone is everything that made the first three films such cult classics. This is just a woeful efforts which comes off more like a poorly made fan-feature than an official entry into the Puppet Master series. I wonder whether there were any more than about twenty people involved in this from beginning to end, such is the nature of how small scale everything has become. According to Tom Devlin, one of the FX guys who talks in the behind-the-scenes feature, the budget for this was smaller than the cost of building one of the cable-controlled puppets from the original. That’s what we’re dealing with here.

I’ve said in my other reviews for this franchise that it’s the puppets and the shenanigans that they cause which are the main attractions to these films yet we’ve been getting short-changed for years and it gets worse. The classic puppets look to be in awful condition. Both Pinhead and Ms Leech look like they need a new paint job, Jester hardly does anything and Six Shooter is only seen in the finale. The new puppets look fantastic which is a shame when you see how little they have to do. Bombshell is a blonde Nazi with machine guns hidden in her breasts, Weremacht is a werewolf SS soldier, Blitzkrieg is a mini-tank with a helmet head and Kamikaze is a Japanese suicide bomber (blatantly not giving a toss about racial stereotyping). The puppets have nothing to do for the entire film save for the inevitable good versus evil showdown at the end and even here it looks like the director just pointed a camera at the crew and told them to play with the puppets. They’ve got limited movement and there are plenty of close-ups of them looking angry and making noises. Hardly edge-of-your-seat action.

I won’t bother too much looking into the human aspect of the film. No one really cares about the characters anymore – a couple of bland teens in lead roles and some hammy actors portraying ridiculous and long-dead stereotypes don’t really cut the mustard. The German characters are awful, with horrible accents and clichéd mannerisms. Stephanie Sanditz, the busty German officer, may look the part in her low-cut tops (and would look better with them!) but this is the 21st century and the Puppet Master series has long dispensed with gratuitous exploitation – the days of glamorous Charlie Spradling baring all in Puppet Master II are long over. In fact it’s long dispensed with everything – blood, boobs, action and entertainment. What’s left is a void of ideas, kept going by a studio which is desperate to remain relevant in an era where its low budget horror films just don’t make the grade anymore.

 

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising is not the film to resurrect a franchise but what it will do is keep it on life support that bit longer. It’s the best of at least the last four films but that’s not a ringing endorsement. Charles Band needs to decide whether he wants to give the franchise a final farewell and blow a load of money at a decent entry or risk losing the few fans this series has left with another bog-standard filler flick.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Related Movies

Post a comment