Set in 1939 after the events of the first Puppet Master just as Toulon commits suicide, the owners nephew of the Bodega Bay Hotel, a cripple Danny ‘befriends’ Toulon’s living deadly Puppets. He takes them to Chinatown but soon gets caught up in a Nazi/Japanese WW2 bomb plot and it is up to Danny and the Puppets to stop this sabotage.
Firstly, despite the intention of a theatrical run of the first film, all have been direct to video releases, this is a pity because there is a real following for these movies and the puppet characters, possibly with a larger budget it may have had more success. Sadly, Axis of Evil again suffers from that DTV feel and sits above Retro and is on par with the third instalment.
There appears to be an effort made with the set production, acting and script (racist comments and historical inaccuracies aside). The introduction of yet another new puppet despite being story hook is unnecessary and considering it is unrated there is a distinct lack of blood. David DeCoteau’s direction at times is stilted and as stiff as the puppets (who look slightly different from the original designs) giving it a TV soap opera feel. Adding smoke, darkly painted walls and combining it with back lighting doesn’t guarantee atmosphere. Nevertheless, creator/producer Charles Band’s brother composer Richard Band crafts another great score, however, the mix is intrusive at times. Actors Fiehler, Erica Shaffer and Levi Fiehler are notable and it nice to see William Hickey (1927-1997) even if it is reused footage.
As a longtime fan of Puppet Master, it’s great to see Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneller, Leech Woman and gang but it’s execution at times leaves it void of tension and horror. Overall, it’s good fun but a missed opportunity that leaves the viewer short changed, which is a crying shame given the potential and cult following.