Blade: The Iron Cross (2020)

Blade: The Iron Cross


It’s 1945 and the war is winding down. Dr. Ivanov has moved back to Russia to conduct some research, leaving the Toulon puppets in the US under the care of his daughter, Elisa. Elisa has been toiling away trying to decipher Toulon’s notes and the Scroll of Osiris so that they can create more animation formula, which is quickly running out. The only puppet still able to move is Blade, but that’s only because he’s seemingly found a way to feed off of Elisa’s psychic energy. But even though the war is on the verge of ending, that doesn’t mean that Elisa or the puppets are in any way safe. Turns out there’s still a small, dedicated Nazi faction hiding out in California. Led by Dr. Hauser, the group has been trying to revive Commandant Moebius’ old Deathcorp Project, conducting human experiments in an effort to create a Nazi army of the living dead. But unlike Moebius, Hauser’s experiments have been much more successful. He’s already constructed his own personal Death Ray that’s powerful enough to kill half the humans in California. But he’s yet to figure out a means to control his potential undead army. He’s convinced Toulon’s formula is the key to his success. So he kidnaps Elisa and tries to force her to tell him her secrets. The only problem with his plan is that he didn’t count on having to deal with a very vengeful Blade.


Oh look, more Nazi’s. Hip hip hor-fucking-ray. Blade: The Iron Cross is the fourth Puppet Master film that I’ve watched in a row that’s dealt with Nazi’s, and the 5th overall that doens’t include the reboot, which means over a third of this series consists of the puppets fighting freakin’ Nazis. I’m sorry, but that’s just way too much damn Nazi in my book. Shockingly though, I ended up kinda liking this one, though it does have some very bizarre quirks, even considering this is a Puppet Master film and I should be expecting them at this point.


Yeah, yeah, zombies. Sure. Why not? Who the hell cares at this point…

While the film does again consist of Nazi’s (I may never watch a WWII era film ever again), and we’re predictably forced to sit and listen to their actors often make shoddy attempts at a German accent (weeps), at least this time they seem to be really making more of an attempt to make the villains genuinely evil. There’s still this odd level of campiness present that just doesn’t seem to want to go away (seriously, WTF?), but it seems that now that Band is no longer in the director’s chair and John Lechago is at the helm, that it’s all been mellowed out considerably. There’s still some awkward attempts at levity and humor with some members of the secondary cast, but at least now it’s relegated to the “henchmen”, so it doesn’t feel quite as off-putting, and the main villains gets to shine as truly despicably, evil guys.


I can’t even complain about the acting too much, because while most of the secondary characters are pretty meh (in fairness, that’s mostly because they don’t really get to do much), the main cast is actually pretty solid. Roy Abramsohn is a good arrogant as hell and evil doctor, and Vincent Cusimano makes for a fine B-Movie level Noir-ish detective, complete with his baffling need to chew on a toothpick. Yet the standout is Ukrainian born actress Tanya Fox, who not only has a genuine accent (or can at least believably pull one off so my ears won’t bleed), but also manages to out-act most of the rest of the cast, even when she is inexplicably forced to appear in scenes sans-clothing.


Seriously though, why are you naked? The last guy we saw in this thing at least got to keep his shorts on…


What stuck out to me were some of the film’s visual quirks. While the general cinematography is decent and the film even throws in a couple of nice visuals, some of the other choices the film makes almost feel downright…. bizarre. I noticed this in the last couple of films, but Blade’s face appears to be going through some very unfortunate growing pains. It’s almost like they keep forgetting what his jaw looks like. In one scene it’s narrow and his chin doesn’t go past his upper lip, and in the next his jaw will be SUPER wide and it looks like his chin is jutting out past his nose. It’s very odd. At first I chalked the changes up to a quirk of Full Moon selling off the original models and them using a costume for some scenes, but now it just seems like it’s getting out of hand. I know they likely have several different heads they have to work with, but you’d think they’d put in just a little more effort to make them look more consistent.



What, are they trying to turn him into Jay Leno? What’s going on here?

Then there’s some of the special effects which, yeah, this is Full Moon so they’re not great and I wasn’t expecting them to be, but this one seemed to have more than its fair share of oddities and also had some just downright puzzling decisions. Like in Puppet Master: Axis Termination they’ve included several scenes where there’s a shrunken down actor running around in a Blade costume again. Those scenes looked a little out of place in the last film, but they could also be forgiven because they only lasted for a couple of seconds. But while they still only pop up for a few scant seconds, there are also a lot more of them in this film, which really highlights Blade’s frequent switch in facial features and the odd looking proportions of the actor wearing the puppet costume.


Gah! The hell happened?!

Which brings me to the final peculiarity: the unexpected use of green screen. But wait! They have to use a green screen for the Blade actor, right? Yeah, but those instances make sense and that’s not what I’m talking about. There are a couple of very puzzling moments where the movie will be in the middle of a scene and you know they’re on a set. And I mean, like, you KNOW it’s a set. You’ve seen it from a couple different angles already, in more than one scene. It’s a physical, honest-to-god set you’re looking at. Yet there are times when the movie will cut to a different angle and suddenly you’ll see the actor and the foreground of the set you were just looking at, but you can tell that the actor is in front of a green screen because they’ve got that cheap green screen outline behind them. But then it’ll cut back and they’re on the set again. And it isn’t a one off, it happens a couple different times. I don’t know if it’s like that because they had to do some last minute re-shoots or their original footage got messed-up or what, but it’s just…. It’s weird, is all I’m saying.


Despite it’s oddities though, I actually kinda liked Blade: The Iron Cross the most out of the recent Nazi Puppet Master films. The plot’s not too bad, the pacing is decent, the villains are appropriately evil, the main actors are nice, the protagonist is likable and Blade actually gets in some decent, bloody kills. But it’s also really hard to ignore all the wonky visuals and the ridiculously illogical ending. Still, at only 70 minutes (less if you cut out the credit time), it gets to the point quickly and is not a huge time sink, which is something I appreciate in my silly B-Movie’s. But it still ends up being a mid-tier level film for the franchise, so if you’re new to the series, I suggest you start with something more towards the beginning.

And with that I am currently DONE with the Puppet Master Films. The newest one, Doktor Death, isn’t set to come out until some time in 2023, so it’ll have to wait. There’s also the alternate universe/reboot titled Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich from 2018, but it’s not currently available for free, and after watching 8 of these films in a row there is no way in hell I’m spending money to watch yet another Nazi themed Puppet Master film. Nope. I don’t care that it has a decent Rotten Tomatoes score and only costs $3. I’m tired and I ain’t doing it. Maybe after another 2 years I’ll have built up enough strength again to get back to them. But until then, hasta you little bastards.

Blade: The Iron Cross is available on a variety of streaming services.

Blade: The Iron Cross is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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