The final final chapter. So instead of another prequel, this picks up right where 9 left off with wannabe soldier Danny (Kip Canyon) being the new puppet master, and forming an impromptu plan to take down the Nazis who are camping out in Chinatown. The first thing that you notice if you’ve been keeping up with the series (like I know you have been) is that they’ve completely recast this thing; what, were big names like Levi Fiehler and Jenna Gallaher busy? Not that it really matters, as the acting in this one is on par with the rest of the series. I will give this tenth installment credit in that it does feel different from the other 9 movies. For one thing, this is the first movie that’s shot in widescreen (16:9), not in full screen (4:3). It only took them 23 years to get on that bandwagon.
Also, this is the first movie not to take itself too seriously. There’s more of an attempt at humor, and you get stuff like puppets named Bombshell, who is essentially a puppet version of the fembot from Austin Powers with pop-out machine guns in the brassiere. It’s also back to being racially unsound like 9 was, which brings us to the puppet Kamikaze.
Puppets have never been able to talk in these movies (because THAT would be the step that takes it too far), but when called for, people can inexplicably understand their grunts as you would Lassie, or Chewbacca. Kamikaze, however, does manage to speak fluently in Japanese for no reason… I’m probably reading too deeply in to this. Once again, I stupidly got my hopes up when I saw that they actually have a puppet kill in the opening scene; maybe they’ve listened to their audience and decided to give them what they want… foiled again. It follows the same exact formula of saving everything you want to see for the last 10 – 15 minutes. To try and keep things spicy, this introduces 4 new Nazi puppets: In addition to Bombshell and Kamikaze, you also have Blitzkrieg and Weremacht. Of course, they aren’t really given much to do, but at least a small effort was placed. This series has devolved into sexy Nazis and Army sergeants that speak in nothing but military clichés, which does work for the occasional laugh, but not much more than that. This ends up falling around the middle of the pack quality wise as far as Puppet Master standards go… which is still not very good. If you would like to gain perspective, this was released the same year Sinister came out; it is possible to do horror right on a low budget, all it takes is creativity.
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012) **
– Critic for Hire