For once, a new “Puppet Master” movie has a plot all on its own and offers little to no clips from the previous films as filler. I was certain there’d be a segue in to a clip show, but thankfully “Axis Rising” presents something of a plot and events. As well as mythos evolution. Taking place directly after “Axis of Evil,” the villainous Ozu is caught by the Nazis and killed once her puppets are discovered in her bag. Poor Tunneler is caught by the Nazis after he murders one of the officers, and hoping to figure out Toulon’s formula, they bring him to master scientist Freuhoffer, who hopes to use the formula for his own benefit. Evil Nazi officer Moebius plans to turn rebels in to his own army of puppet soldiers, but is finding little success with gory results. With Tunneler dissected and the scientist learning the secrets, the Nazi’s just may be able to form their own army of deadly puppets.
Meanwhile, All American boy Danny and his two friends plan to take Tunneler back and infiltrate the operation. As with the previous films, the puppets are secondary to the plot, with the low budget drawing them in to the background as minor characters as the humans try to pick up the slack creating their own conflicts and tension. Thankfully the puppets aren’t just reserved to background props like in “The Legacy,” and actually get to do things like emote, and play sidekick the whole Americans vs. Nazis movement. Freuhoffer is inexplicably being romanced by Nazi Uschi who hopes to have her own puppet to play with, while he’s pressured to unveil the mystery of Toulon’s formula.
Danny and his all American friends including a crusty American sergeant and his spunky gal pal, seek to return Tunneler to his home. Meanwhile Freuhoffer has just created his own trio of deadly evil puppets, and they’re redundant but definitely have potential to be franchise mainstays. Folks looking for a puppet free for all get it in small doses (Puppet cat fight! Puppet cat fight!) as director Charles Band gives fans some entertaining throw downs between puppets. Sadly, “Puppet Master X: Axis Rising” still has its major problems, and that’s basically forgetting that the puppets are the key to the film. Since all of the core puppets are reduxes of their original models, there’s just something off about them, and they never seem like the genuine articles.
However, you have to appreciate that “Axis Rising” at least tries for a decent installment of the “Puppet Master” series without resorting to cutting too many corners or adding filler. As a sequel it’s a solid watch, if only for the return of Six Shooter! There’s Stephanie Sanditz as the gorgeous sex bomb Uschi, there’s my favorite puppets in horror, there’s Stephanie Sanditz as the gorgeous sex bomb Uschi, we get to know a new breed of puppets, and did I mention there’s Stephanie Sanditz as the gorgeous sex bomb Uschi? I wouldn’t mind being her prisoner for a few decades. “Axis Rising” is a worthy sequel that finally focuses on progressing the mythos of Toulon’s puppets, and it’s a solid horror film I had a good time with.