Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)

Puppet Master: Axis Termination


Approximately a year after the events of the previous film, the Toulon Puppets are taken by Captain Brooks and are now in the hands of the US government who, after learning that the Nazi’s have successfully created their own set of puppets and used them to assassinate several US citizens, plans to use the puppets for their own war effort. Brooks and the puppets are put under the supervision of Doctor Ivan Ivanov, a renowned Russian psychic now working for the US, and his small group of psychics, in the hopes that they can discover the secret behind the puppet’s magic, so they may use it to help the US win the war. But the Nazi’s still have a large group hiding out in California, and not only do they have the remaining Nazi puppets, Blitzkrieg, Wehrmacht and Bombshell, under their complete control, but they also have their own group of very powerful psychics at their disposal as well. It may just come down to a battle of psychic wills and pitting puppet against puppet, to determine an end to the war.


And thus, with the conclusion of Puppet Master: Axis Termination, we come to the end of the “Axis” trilogy of Puppet Master films. Thank God, because while this one is a bit better than the last film, the plots surrounding these things are just getting more and more confusing, so it’s probably best that the filmmakers stop while they’re at least semi-ahead. Or, at least semi-ahead as far as this series’ standards go. But at least it looks like they attempted to go out with a bloody BANG! and a lot of Nazi death, so I guess they should at least get a little credit for ending the story-line like that…. Hm, what’s that you say? The next film deals with Nazi’s too? Which means they’re going to continue to force me to listen to a bunch of terrible fake German accents for at least another hour?


Mr. Band, sir, please move on to something else, I beg of you.

Axis Termination’s plot attempts to weave together several elements and plot devices that have popped up previously during the series. This of course includes fighting the Nazi’s, but it also highlights the importance of the puppet animating formula, the fact that there’s precious little of it left, and the connection the puppets and the formula have to ancient Egypt (They even brought back some of the crappy CGI “Magic” effects from Retro Puppet Master to round out that particular point…lovely). But it also brings back the series’s connection to “psychics,”, which the movies have thus far completely ignored since waaaaaaay back in Puppet Master 5, some twenty-three-odd-years ago. My guess is that they either completely forgot about it until now, or realized they needed to revisit old film elements so that they could connect it back to the first entries. Knowing how this series operates, my money is on the former. But whatever the reason, it’s nice to see some returning elements in an effort to link all the entries together.

What’s not so nice, is that now it seems like there’s far too much focus on the psychic angle. Before it was sort of mentioned and touched upon, but never really in-depth. But this movie acts like the previous few films ignoring the psychic angle was some sort of unforgivable oversight, so to make up for it they did a deep dive and shoved the film full of so much exposition that you feel like a 5-year-old sitting around listening to a group of adults spewing nothing but medical jargon. What happens in those scenes? Who knows, cause you won’t remember them. And you won’t have to either, because precious little of what they say really matters. All you need to retain is that they’re psychics and they’re pretty powerful, which we immediately learned upon meeting them. Too bad the movie didn’t know enough to simply stick to that. They could have saved themselves some time or, you know, instead filled that time with killer puppets. Remember them, Full Moon? They were the whole reason people started watching these movies to begin with.

Damn it, movie, focus! FOCUS!

Speaking of the puppets, they end up looking pretty decent in this movie. Blade’s face got some of its movements back (I guess his animatronics weren’t working 5 years ago), including his moving jaw and bullet eyes, and Jester actually got to use more than one facial expression. The puppets also benefit from a lot more movement this time around, thanks to a couple of brief instances of new animation, and some creative camera trickery. Since animating puppets is apparently such a royal pain in the butt, the filmmakers decided to try a clever compromise. They ended up making three life-sized costumes for three of the puppets, put them on actors, then shrunk the footage down to ‘Puppet-sized height’ and superimposed it in certain scenes. As a result you have the first instance of life-like puppet movement in the series in, well, over two decades (less if you’re feeling generous with Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys). Does having that footage overlaid over the footage of the other actors look kinda strange? Yeah, it does. I’m not gonna lie. It’s not exactly smooth and you can immediately tell what it is that they’re doing. But it really doesn’t look any more awkward than when they would superimpose the animated parts in earlier films, so you know what? I’m not gonna complain. Hell, I’m inclined to give them bonus points because they actually had the actors mimic the same types of movements that the animated puppets used in earlier films. It’s a rare moment of consistency that proves at least someone at Full Moon was paying attention.

Meh…could be worse.

The acting this go-around even fares a bit better than the last film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still way cheesier than it needs to be (I really don’t know what Band is thinking), but at least it looks like they dialed it back a bit. The main Nazi characters benefit the most. They still have their hokey moments, but at least now they feel like there’s a genuine level of true evil behind their actions, instead of just the ‘Mwahahahaha!’ level of evil displayed in the last film. It probably helps that the actors who play them, Kevin Scott Allen and Tonya Kay, actually have an impressively long (and decent) list of acting credits behind them. Everyone else is merely…okay. No one stands out as being awesome by any means, but they fit their roles adequately and they can convey their emotions beyond using nothing but exaggerated facial expressions, so I’ll consider that a plus in my book.


Puppet Master: Axis Termination holds the distinction of being both the first crowdfunded installment in the franchise (it actually came out in three separate parts before being combined into one movie). Honestly, the crowdfunding bit probably both helped and hindered it. On the plus side it added some incentives like including more puppets, which is the only reason why Six Shooter makes a quick appearance in the film. But it also included incentives like “be included in the film,” which is why some of the Nazi’s who get mowed down in the end look very…un-Nazi-ish. Oh well, at least I hope they were having fun.


Axis Termination also holds the honor of being the bloodiest entry in the Puppet Master series, but hearing about that probably shouldn’t get your hopes up too high. While the claim may be true, most of the blood consists of overly dramatic and very hokey looking CGI blood splatters any time someone gets shot. I’ll applaud them for being more subtle with the fake red stuff than they were in Gingerdead Man 3, but it still looks horribly, laughably fake. Though it may have helped them a tish if they had bought more than one single splatter effect for the bullet hole, instead of repeating the same blood splurt for each injury.

I say as I post the BLOODIEST scene I can find.

I was impressed with some of the shortcuts Puppet Master: Axis Termination used to try to spiffy up their film, but it still doesn’t keep this entry from falling somewhere in the mid-tier of Puppet Master movies. The main characters were less annoying, the Nazi’s were more varied and entertaining, and the puppets actually got to move around a bit more. But the plodding story-line and the lack of decent puppet action until the end of the film really hold it back. But it’s still a solid B-movie with some interesting characters and decent villains so…. I don’t hate it. That still doesn’t mean it’s any good and that you won’t hate it. It just means that it’s okay…. or it means that after watching all these films in a row that I’ve developed some tragically low standards. Take your pick. If you’re following the series, then just know that this one isn’t going to knock your socks off. But if you’re new to the series, then trust me when I say that you’re going to want to start elsewhere.

Puppet Master: Axis Termination is available on a variety of streaming services.

Puppet Master: Axis Termination is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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2 thoughts on “Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)

    1. I’ve got one more to go to finish out the timeline (or Full Moon’s excuse for a timeline, anyway.) There’s technically 2 more after that (my god…), but one isn’t even out yet, and the other is supposed to be some kind of reboot, alternate dimension type…thingy. I don’t know. But I’d have to pay for it, and I’m not doing that after subjecting myself to 8 of these in a row.

      Liked by 1 person

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