The Puppet Master Axis series has evolved to become a product totally different from its first few films. Instead of the murderous dolls that many fans loved in the original three movies, now released to Blu-ray in a less than stunning transfer, they are still humanity’s saviors in Puppet Master X: Axis Rising.
The devotees who have followed the series should know that the sequence of movies is not in chronological order. They are not yet the 80’s terrorists that they will become. Back in time, they were fighting for an American cause.
In the latest two movies, the era is still the 40’s. This new subset of “Axis” films makes Danny Coogin (Kip Canyon) the new Puppet Master. He found the puppets that Toulin left following his suicide. Where this new narrative goes is in the direction of exploring the web of subterfuge that existed in what looks like Dirty San Francisco. The Nazis and Japanese are plotting to undermine America’s wartime efforts!
The story continues where the last movie, Axis of Evil, left off. Ozu (Ada Chau) left the theatre with Tunneler in a burlap bag. She offers this puppet to Moebius (Scott Anthony King), a Nazi commander, in hopes that he will spare her life. But his meeting with a puppet is far from auspicious. He realizes the potential of what these little soldiers can do and he knows nobody can live to link him to what he can do with this marvelous piece of scientific discovery.
This film does a better job at putting together the occult elements from the earlier films, which felt ludicrous, and making it believable. Practically all the puppets fit right in to this era better than the modern one. Although older versions existed for the lead puppets: Blade, Leech Woman, Pinhead and Jester are more symbolic of the fears, prejudices and vices of the ’40’s. The retro puppets symbolized more of the insecurity of WW1. With WW2 in full swing, the new puppets, namely Bombshell, Blitzkrieg, Wehrmacht and Kamikaze, represented everything the free world back then feared.
Even the villains are hilarious. All the stereotypes, puppets included, are played up for laughs, and no Full Moon Features product can be complete without some buxom bombshell gracing the screen. Stephanie Sanditz has some fun in her role as Uschi and Scott King hams up the role of being Kommandant as well as Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes. Both are very blind to certain facts. The only difference, Moebius is angrier!
More movies will no doubt come, and maybe this time, viewers will get more puppet-on-puppet action. To see the puppets fight in this film was short and unintentionally funny. To see Bombshell fight Leech Woman requires waking up the child’s side of the imagination, or hope that Band can up the budget so the newer puppets in to-be-made films can be as fierce as Chucky in Child’s Play.
While the real war is breaking out, even the puppets have to choose sides too. Just who lives, who dies and who is control adds to the weariness the dolls and audiences must be feeling. Eventually the puppets will turn away from humanity and turn into the monsters that they will one day be. The catalyst will come in the final movie of this franchise.