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PUPPET MASTER AXIS OF EVIL
DVD region 2. Revolver.

Puppet Master Axis of EvilUntil this movie popped through the letterbox, I'd been in a state of blissful ignorance as far as the Puppet Master franchise was concerned. Sure, I was aware that there were several films out there, but at no point had I felt the urge to actually watch one of them. But clearly lots of people did, as the series is apparently the most successful direct-to-video franchise ever. Which just goes to show that there's no accounting for taste.

After a ten year break, the series has returned with this ninth film, and while I can't say for sure, it seems like something of a fresh start (if not quite a reboot). I may well have missed important Puppet Master references during the film, but as a first-time viewer, I didn't feel particularly lost. Bored, perhaps, but not lost...

Puppet Master Axis of EvilSet during World War 2, the film follows crippled furniture maker Danny Coogan (Levi Fiehler) who is desperate to join up and fight the Nazis, the Japs (or, you suspect, anyone else) but can't because of his gammy leg. Instead, he befriends puppet master Toulon, who is being hunted by Nazi agents for his secrets, and offs himself without a word early on. Recovering the puppets, Danny discovers that the Nazis have teamed up with a Japanese Dragon Lady (Ada Chao) to destroy a location munitions plant, and only he - and the assorted puppets - can stop them.

Both producer Charles Band and director David DeCocteau have made some entertaining trash in their time, but Puppet Master Axis of Evil is pretty bad. it takes forever to get going, the action scenes are strangely flat and most annoyingly, the film fizzles out to leave room for the next entry, denying the viewer even the slightest satisfaction at the end. The characters are so thinly drawn and badly acted that it's hard to give a damn what happens to them, and the dialogue makes 1960's war comics seem nuanced and reflective in comparison.

Long-term fans of the series might get more out of this than I did, if only to see their heroes Blade, Pinhead, Leech Woman and whoever else back in action. But this has the feel and dynamism of a SyFy TV movie. Good cover though.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

BUY IT NOW (USA)

 

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