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John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010)

September 8, 2013

MY CALL:  This franchise just isn’t getting any better.  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEADPuppet Master (1989), Puppet Master II (1991; the most slapstick crazy of the first three), Puppet Master III (1991) and Puppet Master 4 (1993).  Also try Ghoulies (1985) and Ghoulies II (1988).  FRANCHISE TIMELINERetro Puppet Master (1999) introduced us to young Toulon in 1902. Puppet Master III (1991; set in 1941 and having the highest production value of the first three franchise installments) comes next, then Axis of Evil, and prequel Puppet Master (1989), which occurs decades later in present day and is seamlessly followed story-wise by Puppet Master II (1991; which was the least serious, most zany installment).  Puppet Master 4 (1993) returns us to present day following Puppet Master IIPuppet Master 5 (1994) picks up right where part 4 ended and marks the most noticeable drop in quality of any other franchise installments.  Then, presumably taking place after part 5, Curse of the Puppet Master randomly happens and is difficult to link to the others.  Lastly, Puppet Master: Legacy (2003) takes place in present day and does nothing for the storyline.

We return to the Bodega Bay Inn in 1939, when Andre Toulon (William Hickey; Puppet Master) commits suicide before being captured by the Nazis who have so desperately sought the secret of eternal life which animates his puppets.  A young fan of Toulon’s puppet work, Danny recovers Toulon’s puppets and learns how to animate them with the magical serum.

Director David DeCoteau (Curse of the Puppet Master, Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge, Retro Puppet Master) hasn’t done much good for this franchise since its third installment.  Here, he directs a less zany story than parts 4 through 7, which serves as a promising return to the original franchise standard.  Danny finds himself protecting Toulon’s secrets while trying to prevent the Nazis and Japanese from destroying an American weapons factory.  This is all fine, but far too much time is spent focusing on Danny, the Nazis and the Japanese and far too little screen time is afforded to the puppets, which, last time I checked, is why I’m watching this!  I’d rather have a terrible story and more puppet action…like in Curse of the Puppet Master.

Here our Japanese yakuza spy mistress is comforting a Nazi in her theater safehouse.  “You’re such a pretty Nazi…”

Our hardly featured puppets include Blade (parts 1-2, 4-8), Leech Woman (parts 1-3, 6-8), Pinhead (9 movie veteran), Tunneler (9 movie veteran) and Jester (9 movie veteran).

Pinhead just doesn’t look right, here.

When Danny opens the puppet chest we see a few others (not featured in previous movies) that receive no screen time or explanation.  Danny also creates a new puppet with the soul of a loved one–it’s a little ninja with throwing stars.  The effects (or lack thereof) behind the puppets’ movement is perhaps the worst in the franchise.  When the 20 year old franchise opener has better special effects than the most recent entry (part 9), something is terribly wrong.  Folks are getting lazy!  Worse yet, they stopped using stop-motion and/or real human hands for Pinhead!  Now he’s just “some doll” and his iconic hands have been rendered indistinct.

So, were there any cool puppet-driven scenes?  Eh, not really.  Leech Woman pukes a leech into a yakuza’s sushi dinner.  After he eats it (chewing it up–which clearly doesn’t bother the leech–and swallowing it), it is evidently unharmed and lacerates his throat, leaving him spewing blood.  That was probably the highlight.

Unless I’m mistaken–and I’m not!–there has been a major error in the story’s timeline.  This is set in 1939 and Toulon commits suicide. But Puppet Master III takes place in 1941 with Toulon in Berlin…and he’s ALIVE…before he ever even escaped to America’s Bodega Bay Inn.

What can I say about this?  It was better than Puppet Master: Legacy, which was really just a highlights reel more than a movie.  That’s about it.  Just not good.  Don’t watch it.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2013 7:04 am

    As I may have mentioned before, I still want to see all the Puppet Masters — yes, they are tired and cheesy, but fun

    • johnleavengood permalink
      September 8, 2013 1:45 pm

      LOL. I totally understand. I tell people not to watch. But I just keep on going. In 10 years I’ll probably watch them all again.

      • johnleavengood permalink
        September 8, 2013 1:46 pm

        Along with Puppet Master parts 11-20! We’ll get there…

      • September 9, 2013 8:19 am

        I get it 🙂

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