There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun. Today we discuss the next film in the Puppet Master Franchise Puppet Master X Axis Rising.
Today’s Key Movie:
Continuing our journey into the Puppet Master franchise well past where I originally left of, we come to the sequel to Puppet Master Axis of Evil as it continues the story of Danny and his attempt to stop Ozu from using the Puppets for evil. Starring Kip Canyon, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Stephanie Sanditz and Scott Anthony King, Axis Rising Axis Rising starts literally the next day after the events of Axis of Evil. Here we find Danny and Beth planning their next move in saving Tunneler while also avenging the death of Danny’s brother Don who had been placed into the body of the Ninja Puppet. After Blade returns with news of the death of Lady Ozu at the hands of Herr Mobius (King), the two begin their mission, but not without a few roadblocks along the way, like the Nazi’s getting closer to finding a way to resurrect the dead.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
After Axis of Evil, it seemed that this franchise had regained it’s campy but fun path of B-Horror goodness and, I am delighted to say, that Axis Rising is every much the B-Horror film we could have ever hoped for. Full to the brim with cringey moments, overacting, oddball lines and, of course, the classic puppet action, this is a film you have to step into fully aware of what to expect.
The first thing you notice in this film is the complete recasting of all of the principle characters from Danny and Beth to the rather problematic Lady Ozu, who only lasts all of ten minutes in this sequel. Although their replacements are decent, especially Ozu, I do miss Levi Coogan’s strength as a lead actor from the previous film. While Canyon isn’t bad, he just can not hold a candle to Coogan’s enthusiasm. That being said, the new Beth is tremendous in her role and, while the original was good, I have to say this one is a marked improvement.
Although the initial cast is replaced for better or worse, it is the new additions to the film that really sell it’s silly nature. The biggest additions are that of Kommandant Moebius played by Scott Anthony King and Uschi played by Stephanie Sanditz. These two serves as the representation of the Nazi regime as Moebius is determined to find a way to bring dead soldiers back to life in order to gain victory for the Axis powers. Uschi serves as his rather…hungry…love interest/second in command who uses her lusty nature to get what ever it is she wants from both Moebius and his lackeys. Now, normally, overacting usually completely turns me off but there is a certain honesty in these two that just works despite the absolute camp they bring to the screen. Every time they are on screen they eat up the scenery with their absolute ‘Boris and Natasha’ vibe as the evil villains. The only thing stopping Moebius from twirling his mustache is the fact that he isn’t allowed to have one being in uniform.
Another new character in this is a person who is essentially the Anti-Toulon in the form of Dr. Freuhoffer played by Oto Brezina. Freuhoffer is a scientist who has been captured by Moebius and has been forced to help raise an army of the dead with the promise that, if he does, he will see his daughter again. Freuhoffer somehow becomes involved with Uschi, ultimately transferring her soul into the puppet Bombshell which sets up events of the next film in the franchise. Sadly this character is nothing more than a convenience and, really, they could have just made the lead Nazi a mad scientist and saved on Freuhoffer’s rather contrived existence. He’s not bad, he’s just really not necessary in the grand scheme of things serving as the ‘oh we need someone to make puppets again’ character.
The final addition to the story is the over the top character that is introduced is that of Sargent Stone played by Brad Potts. Stone is comes off as the stereotypical crusty old soldier who is assigned to protect both Beth and Danny. He, of course, knew Danny’s brother and agrees to give this young couple help in their battle against the Axis powers. He is a hoot for sure and, honestly adds some fun comedic elements to the film that somehow work.
Unfortunately, once again, with only a 1:26 runtime, it takes nearly two thirds of the film to finally get to some serious Puppet action. I mean, these films are called ‘Puppet Master’ yet the use of the puppets seem to always be an afterthought to the rather forced plots. Sure, this allows for the creation of the Nazi Puppets like Bombshell, Blitzkrieg, Weremacht and the horribly racist stereotype Kamikaze (seriously, I know this is a period piece but was this really necessary?) but they only really get used near the very end of the film and, specifically in the case of Bombshell, are somehow made very modern materials like that of Latex Rubber. There was a reason why Toulon’s puppets were carved from wood and used clockwork mechanisms inside of them but I digress, these films are not meant to be flawless, just fun.
Overall, despite the extreme camp in this particular entry, I have to say it is still not the worst in the franchise and is actually quite enjoyable for fans of the Puppet Master series. In fact, this whole movie basically exists to explain how the serum that powers the puppets hasn’t run out yet, because Dr Freuhoffer found a way to make more! Surprise! Not only that, but, we even get the origin story of fan favorite puppet Six-Shooter so, sure it could it be better (and a lot less cringey when it comes to how it handles Asian stereotypes), but it is pretty clear that this was meant to only be a midpoint in the Axis saga of the Puppet Master series as there is one more to this story in Puppet Master Axis Termination.
OK, where do I get this movie?
As with the rest of the franchise, head over to the Full Moon website and grab a copy of this one. Or, if you happen to be a fan of everything Fullmoon related, you can also subscribe to the Fullmoon Channel on Amazon.com. Either way, give this one a shot, but only if you already love the franchise or have watched the previous entry, otherwise, it’s a tough nut to crack.
Until next week, here is the trailer. Enjoy!
Late To The Game 10/14/2021
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