There’s a lot of love here at GBHBL for the Puppet Master franchise. Even if it’s been a bit battered over the years. A series that begun in 1989, it has since had 10 sequels, a crossover movie with Demonic Toys and a reboot in 2018 called The Littlest Reich.
You can read our definitive ranking of the series here.
Well, the year is 2020 and guess who is back? Well, just one this time but easily the most recognisable of all the puppets. Blade, the skull-faced leader finally gets his own movie called Blade: The Iron Cross.
Now before, we get into the details of this latest entry we first need to talk about what Puppet Master creators, Full Moon called ‘the AXIS trilogy’.
These were the last three Puppet Master movies before the 2018 reboot. Unsurprisingly, for those who don’t already know, this trilogy was set during World War II and put the puppets at odds with the Nazis.
Why mention those? Well, Blade: The Iron Cross could easily be the 4th movie in the AXIS trilogy.
Director of three Killjoy movies, John Lechago takes the helm for this Puppet Master spin-off and it stars Tania Fox as Elisa Ivanov. Who, coincidently, also appeared in AXIS Termination.
The remaining puppets are now in Elisa’s care but inanimate. With only a small amount of Toulon’s life-giving tonic left, she doesn’t plan to resurrect them. Until her dreams lead her to believe the Nazi’s are up to their old tricks in California.
It’s Blade that gets the awakening treatment to help Elisa who also shares a strong bond with it. So strong that she is able to share her ‘bio-energy’ with the puppet to bring him to life.
Get used to hearing about bio-energy. It’s at the core of film’s plot and integral to the main villain, Erich Hauser’s (Roy Abramsohn) plans. The Nazi has perfected his own puppet reanimation… human reanimation. Yes, this is a Puppet Master movie that is also a bit of a zombie movie too!
Hauser has built an enormous antenna that he plans to use to kill, and then turn the local population into the walking dead. He just needs bio-energy to power it up.
Will Elisa, Blade and the detective Joe (Vincent Cusimano) be able to stop the Nazi plot?
You have to approach any Full Moon film, let alone another Puppet Master film, with some serious trepidation. The quality of output varies from good to awful, in the AXIS trilogy alone.
Where does Blade: The Iron Cross land? Well, happily it’s in the better camp. Although some of the enjoyment I felt came from re-entering the Puppet Master world. The moment that score hit and Blade’s face appeared, a smile spread. If you’d not seen any Puppet Master film before, you might see this film in a different light.
The story is detailed and holds the attention. It’s weird and it gets weirder as it goes on, but it works. As does the cast, the main stars putting the effort in and proving to be more memorable than expected.
Of course, many will be eagerly awaiting a bloodbath at the hands of Blade but be warned, kills are few and far between. This might disappoint some but when they do come, they are fairly gratuitous, and the effects hold up. Some of the zombies at the end look great!
With a mix of puppetry, animatronics and an actor in a costume, Blade is brought to life well. It feels like the character we’ve got to know and, in some cases,, love, over the franchise but with more mobility. Which makes the puppet even more threatening!
Blade: The Iron Cross is a good movie if you’ve been a Puppet Master viewer over the years. It’s 70 minutes long, so really doesn’t overstay its welcome, has plenty of blood when it needs too, plenty of gratuitous nudity and enough over the top Full Moon tropes to raise a smile.
Blade: The Iron Cross
The Final Score - 7/10