Just when you think a film series can’t get any worse, when the bottom of the barrel was reached and breached some time ago, a skilled group of guys like Full Moon find lower, ever more pointless depths. That pointless depth is “Axis of Evil”, Puppet Master 10 for anyone still keeping count.
First up is possibly the only genuinely interesting sequence of film this entire series has produced. We watch the first five or so minutes of the original “Puppet Master”, but they splice in new footage to make it appear as if Dan, our hero, is in the hotel along with Toulon and the Nazis. Some of the matching attempts are a bit ropey, but all in all it works pretty well – the problems begin when Dan takes the puppets (Toulon trusted the guy who worked fixing furniture at the hotel well enough to tell him his secret, apparently) and goes home with them.
This film is set in 1939. It says it right at the beginning, in case you think I’m just assuming. Dan’s brother Don is ready to ship off to war to fight the Nazis, and makes numerous less-than-pleasant references to the Japanese and their evil kamikaze pilots too. In case you’re from a different planet and know nothing of our Earth ways, America only joined the war in December 1941, and the first kamikaze pilot didn’t appear til 1944. I can sort-of maybe forgive the filmmakers for getting the kamikaze thing wrong (as I had to look it up) but to be wrong on the date of America joining the war by 2 years?
The two Nazis who were hunting Toulon decide to hang around California for a bit, and go to Chinatown in order to meet up with a Japanese agent. They’ve got a plan to blow up a munitions factory by going undercover and getting jobs there, and decide to work together. They make reference to their two countries not working together at the time, but that really doesn’t make it better.
If I cared any more, I’d use some big words to describe how silly it is that the munitions factory where Dan’s far-too-beautiful-for-him girlfriend works is the same factory the Nazis are going to infiltrate; and that despite only brushing past each other in a hallway at the Bodega Bay Hotel, Dan recognises them immediately. Whatever. Running alongside the pulse-pounding Nazi plot is Dan’s worry about his polio meaning he can’t go to war, his jealousy / admiration for big brother Don, and his attempts to revive the puppets. While kicking the carrying case, he accidentally opens a secret compartment to introduce new puppet Ninja, who may just come in handy later.
Even though Dan seems a fairly level-headed fellow, his girlfriend’s first instinct is to assume he’s lying about her new co-worker being a Nazi, and she doesn’t believe him til she meets the puppets. The one bit of continuity these films possess, for reasons completely unknown, is Pinhead shaking hands with ladies. I like Pinhead, and if I ever make a penny of money from doing film reviews I will buy a Pinhead doll with my first paycheck.
During reconnaisance at the theatre where the Japanese and Germans are holed up, Dan is able to spy on them fairly easily because they choose to have their secret meetings on the stage. Remember, this is supposed to be secret. The conversations are some of the dullest exposition-fests ever captured on film, and the way they feel the need to recap their plans for the audience every time is less-than-exciting too. Anyway, they discover Dan’s spying, and realise the puppets are a much bigger prize than a munitions factory (luckily, their army bosses are a lot less skeptical about magic puppets than any of the hero’s friends). Don is killed, and Dan transfers his soul into the lifeless shell of Ninja, bringing it to life. An observant viewer might wonder how Dan figured out that was a thing you could do, and then how to do it, despite him never being seen reading any of Toulon’s notes; but that observant viewer really ought to have been beaten into submission by now.
The puppets are set loose and do their thing, in a very rare entertaining sequence, both Nazis are killed but the Japanese woman escapes with some of the puppets…and then the film just ends! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, MOVIE??? Clearly, 2012’s “Axis Rising” is a part 2, but the sheer scumbaggery to make a film, have no real resolution then expect fans to pay again to see things wrapped up almost makes me admire Full Moon. Almost.
I think, top to bottom, this could be the worst-acted film I’ve ever reviewed. Almost every film I can think of has at least one or two people who can read a line, but this has none. Readers of the previous reviews may remember speculation about director David DeCoteau and how his series of homoerotic vampire films hired actors based on how good they looked with their shirts off – well, even though the men remained fully clothed throughout “Axis of Evil”, they showed no discernible acting talent so I can only assume the same casting process was at play. Makes a nice change from the same being true of women being hired only because the producer wanted to sleep with them, I suppose.
To show my annoyance with a film that finishes halfway through the story, I’m going to