9/30/13

Puppet Master: Axis of Evil


Maybe it's because I had to sit through Retro Puppet Master and Puppet Master: The Legacy, but I actually enjoyed 2010's Puppet Master: Axis of Evil.  I don't know if I would recommend it to a habitual slasher fanatic, but if you tend to go for low-rent scares, this prequel will placate your senses.  Oh, you didn't know?  We've got another prequel in our laps, the third in the series.  Speaking of insoluble consecutions, this is the fourth PM vehicle directed by David DeCoteau.  I'm beginning to suspect that PM3 was a fluke on his behalf.  Axis of Evil, like most of his offerings to the b-movie gods, has no discernible style.  It could have been helmed by Jan Vincent-Rostowski and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Jan Vincent-Rostowski is the current Deputy Prime Minister of Poland.  As a child, I was anxious to see how the rise of pluralism would affect the country's Roman Catholic roots.  Right.  So the script picks up immediately after the opening scene in the original Puppetmaster.  A young carpenter named Danny checks in on his mentor to find that the old coot has shot himself into oblivion.  New footage is seamlessly intertwined with an aged print.  I must commend editor Danny Draven for composing the prologue with surgical precision.  Thankfully, Axis of Evil drops the "recycled footage" gimmick, and we follow our lead to his mother's house.

His brother is preparing to fight in the war (it's still 1939, mind you).  Danny wants nothing more than to join him, but polio has enfeebled his legs.  All of this is just character development.  The real plot pits Toulon's puppets against a pair of Nazi striplings and a Chinese dragon lady.  We are proffered a neoteric puppet in the guise of Ninja.  He's a nice addition, although his contributions are curbed by an early grave.  If I'm being honest, the cast is shaky at best.  In spite of mootable acting, I warmed up to the principal folks in peril.  I could sense that everyone was trying.  That's important.

It's pretty easy to determine whether or not a film's crew gave a shit, and the creative team behind Axis of Evil definitely gave a shit.  That's why I can make allowances for a flub here and there.  That said, I'm not in love with this flick.  I won't pretend to understand the continuity at play here.  And as I hinted at in the first paragraph, DeCoteau is asleep at the wheel.  The ending is also frustrating since it's...well, open-ended.  Puppet Master: Axis of Evil has its own sequel (!), and that's where the franchise stops.  We have one more mountain to climb.  I can't believe I've made it this far.  Was it worth it, you ask?  No.  No, it wasn't.

9/29/13

Album Cover of the Week


9/28/13

Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys

Video review!  Kill me!


9/27/13

Matches That Time Forgot #58

Hulk Hogan versus Sting.  Macho Man is at ringside.  Both Hogan and Savage are decked out in black (with white trim).  There are issues of trust at play.  Sounds like any marquee match from NWO-era WCW, doesn't it?  But hold the phone!  This bout is from 1995.  I doubt that Eric Bischoff was planning an invasion angle this far in advance, but he may have been testing the waters for a Hogan heel turn.  Early on in the Monday Night Wars, Hogan briefly hinted at villainous conduct.  He was feuding with the Dungeon of Doom at the time (oy), and he wasn't convinced that Sting's heart was 100% righteous, brother.

Ridiculous storyline, but it served its purpose.  The crowd was ready to boo The Hulkster.  If this match was, in fact, part of a dry run for Bash at the Beach '96, then Bischoff was able to gauge the general state of affairs and proceed accordingly.  The tussle itself is surprisingly engaging.  Man, Sting was over in a major, major way.  Here's to hoping that he decides to retire after a proper send-off...at the WWE Hall of Fame.


9/26/13

Mark Stearns...

...is the winner of The Random Reviews I SPY Giveaway!  Well done.  Check your e-mail, dude!

PS-A match that time forgot will appear tomorrow morning.  Stay tuned, friends and associates.

9/25/13

Geek Out #96

The winner of the I SPY Giveaway will be announced tomorrow.  In the meantime, watch this rad(ical) trailer.  This is the one "heavy metal" horror film from the 80's that I haven't seen.  It looks heavenly.


9/24/13

Shitty Webcam Movie Review Site Update I Have Heartburn #48

The contest announcement!


9/23/13

Blood Capsule #39

PUPPET MASTER: THE LEGACY (2003)

Why does this film exist?  I know that Full Moon had just diffused, and Band probably wanted to keep the Puppet Master brand as pertinent as possible.  Didn't he realize that he could achieve his goal with an actual sequel?  I don't care how much money you have in your bank account.  If you have the audacity to maintain an efficacious, long-running franchise, you better put some goddamn effort into it.  The Legacy (released by Band's transitory Shadow Entertainment shingle) clocks in at 80 minutes.  This is a rough estimation, but 55 of those minutes contain footage gleaned from the first seven chapters in what is slowly revealing itself to be the most ill-advised saga of all time.

The "plot" deals with one of Andre Toulon's protégés.  Somehow, a woman (and that's all we know about her) has tracked down the old bugger, and she wants the secret behind the malevolent puppets.  The action is confined to a small room.  I can't imagine Band spending upwards of a thousand dollars on this production, and that's including the actors.  Credit Charlie Boy for attempting to disembroil his pet series, but in linking the sequels/prequels together (ass to mouth, baby!), he creates a brand new myriad of questions.  Who sent the bitch?  How did she locate the tech wiz from PM4 and PM5?  Was Toulon evil after all?  Whose finger is jabbing my prostate?  For those curious, we're in zero Z'Dar territory.  Fuck Puppet Master: The Legacy.  Fuck it hard.

9/22/13

Album Cover of the Week


9/21/13

Panels From Beyond the Grave #31

CHAMBER OF CHILLS (#1, November 1972)

You know that I love anthology films, but did you know that I love anthology comic books?  Probably.  I think I mentioned it somewhere, and besides, my obeisance to Creepshow would have tipped you off eventually.  I'm just now penetrating the yawning reservoir of obscure horror anthology comics.  Good God, there are so many to pore over.  If you thought these babies stopped at EC titles (Tales From the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, etc.), you are sadly mistaken.  Almost every publisher dabbled in the anthology field, including Marvel.  Fans tend to forgot that Stan Lee adored monsters with the same ardor he earmarked for superheroes.  If you want proof, check out Chamber of Chills.

I was lucky enough to procure the first issue, and while the stories don't live up to that orgiastic whopper of a cover, I feel comfortable giving Chamber #1 my stamp of approval (or my "ribbon of ratification," as I like to call it).  The opening yarn is certainly worth the incidental newsstand price.  It's a bitchin' werewolf apologue with a twist dubbed "Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear."  Normally, I wouldn't spoil such an ending, but I can't imagine too many of my readers seeking out a copy of this comic to call their own.  But I digress; backpackers (around three of them...a flock, a contingent maybe) step into a figurative puddle of shit when they encounter a were-werewolf.  A what?  Why, it's a bloodthirsty creature that transforms into a human being once a month.  Surprise, assholes!

The second spine-chiller falls under the "suspense" tab, which isn't necessarily counteractive.  Unfortunately, it's rather humdrum.  If any frightful fable required a mucous, multi-tentacled devil beast, it's this one.  The inmates at a (seemingly minimum-security) prison stage a revolt against their contumacious cock of a warden.  Despite expressly dismal artwork, "They Wait in Their Dungeon" is a resounding dud.  That leaves us with "Delusions of a Dragon Slayer."  I guess I would describe it as a quixotic interpretation of a repressed man's near-death fantasy.  Personally, I'd be happy with scenes of fiery destruction, but we get weird surrealism instead.

The dragon on the cover appears in a single panel.  Single!  As in less than several!  I do appreciate the imaginative plot and the bold color scheme, but a dragon should never personify a wrecking ball.  Dragons should personify dragons.  They don't need a deeper meaning, man.  Were it not for "Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear," I would be forced to classify the inaugural edition of Chamber of Chills as average.  At least the rest of the comic looks gnarly.  It's fucking hard for me to rebuke a horror anthology of any kind.  Expect similar reviews to surface in the months ahead.  NOTE: This book has nothing to do with Harvey Publications' Chamber of Chills, an anthology series that ran from 1951 to 1954.

9/20/13

A whole bunch of special shit...


On Monday, the 23rd, I will make a contest announcement.  On Monday, the 30th, I will announce my plans for Halloween.  Usually, I don't do anything special for the site on All Hallow's Eve, but I had a cute (?) idea that might be fun to read.  As for the Puppet Master series, here is how the reviews will wrap themselves up...

Puppet Master: The Legacy ~ Blood Capsule
Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys ~ Video Review
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil ~ Full-Length Review
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising ~ Full-Length Review

Are you excited yet?

9/19/13

Geek Out #95

Here is one of my favorite scenes from Devil Girl From Mars.  This daffy snakecharmer has everything ~ a leather-clad space vixen, a hulking robot subordinate, scream starlet Hazel Court (you may remember her svelte figure from AIP's The Raven and Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein), British accents, small-fry saucer effects...see?  I told you it has everything! Be sure to add this 1954 curiosity to your October line-up.  In my windbag opinion, it pairs well with Plan 9 From Outer Space.


9/18/13

Retro Puppet Master


This movie hurts my head.  David DeCoteau is at the steering wheel, but for whatever reason, he opts against using a pseudonym.  If I'm understanding this correctly, he didn't want to be associated with Curse of the Puppet MasterRetro Puppet Master, however, is befitting and commodious enough to bear his family name...?  Look, I'm only assuming.  I'm no soothsayer, but why else would he discard a perfectly splurgy handle like Victoria Sloan?  Was he sued by a character on a soap opera?  He couldn't possibly be proud of this dubitable, gamete-flattening prequel.  Yes, we have another prequel on our hands.  If the Puppet Master saga wasn't amply convoluted before, this goddamn flub is relayed through a flashback.

Do you realize what that means?  Retro is a prequel within a prequel.  Oy, my temples are positively throbbing.  We open in 1944, and Andre Toulon is about to tell his precious pawns a bedtime story, so to speak.  The script immediately fucks itself sideways with a dog-powered turnspit.  If you recall, the original found Toulon committing suicide in 1939.  We're off to a promising start, aren't we?  So the meat of Retro follows a twentysomething Toulon as he first discovers Sutekh's secret to animating inanimate objects.  That's right, dearhearts; Sutekh is back!  The catch is that the viewer is denied an exhibition of his foam latex shell.  Fucking bummer.  This flick doesn't even have the decency to be lame in a side-splitting way.

Long story mercifully short, Sutekh rushes three mummies (!) to Paris in an effort to protect his potent alchemy.  Disguised as The Strangers from Dark City (don't ask), our goons are able to track Toulon down, but not before the sage puppeteer has engineered prototypes of the lethal marionettes we all know and love.  I should go ahead and serve my faint praise while it's weighing on my delicate mind.  The primeval precursors to Blade, Pinhead, Six Shooter and Tunneler (known here as Drill Sergeant) look dope as shit.  I'm also on board with Cyclops and Dr. Death, the new kids on the block.  You might say that they hang tough.  Don't blink or you'll miss a stunning bravura of stop-motion effects.

Brigitta Dau is dependable as Ilsa, the cute daughter of a Swiss ambassador.  She's too talented for this film.  Apart from Guy Rolfe (his role amounts to a glorified cameo), the rest of the players are truly atrocious.  The stilted dialogue doesn't help matters, but Christ in a feather boa, I've seen better acting in shot-on-video amputee porn.  There is no blood to gawk at.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the PG-13 rating.  Argh, I wish I was fabricating that morsel of information, but tragically, Charles Band was angling to mine Full Moon's teenybopper demography.  What the platinum fuck, man?

The pace is slower than slow.  The "action" sequences are crude, and due to confounding administrative decisions, the puppets are mere accessories to the plot.  They don't do much.  I shrug my shoulders in discontent.  I suggest skipping Retro Puppet Master, unless you happen to be reviewing the entire franchise for your website.  Robert Z'Dar says, "No comment."

9/17/13

Shitty Webcam Movie Review Site Update I Have Heartburn #47

I'm feeling better-ish.  Also, I discuss monster cereals.

video

9/15/13

Ugh

My stomach feels like Gusomilk.  WARNING: Do not Google "gusomilk."

9/14/13

Album Cover of the Week


9/13/13

Blood Capsule #38

CURSE OF THE PUPPET MASTER (1998)

Directed by Victoria Sloan (a.k.a. David DeCoteau...you're not fooling anyone, dude), Curse wipes the slate clean.  Again.  At this point, all of Full Moon's features were in-house, low-budget affairs that banked on trifling expectations.  Maybe that's why I halfheartedly enjoyed this one.  See, I was expecting nothing less than 90 minutes of implacable foreskin torture.  I certainly didn't think that I would be able to stay awake for the duration of this residuary, slack-jawed sequel, but in Miss Sloan's defense, the story is relayed in prompt fashion.  George Peck is fun to watch as our mad scientist (no, he doesn't portray Andre Toulon), even if we never discover how he fits into the grand scheme of bullshit.

The plot holes...sweet pearl tongue, the plot holes.  Torch appears in the opening credits, but of course, he is nowhere to be found in the fucking film.  Remember the characters in PM4 and PM5?  Remember Sutekh and his cadre of Totem paratroopers?  Yeah, they don't exist.  The special effects unit has been scaled back, so "Sloan" relies on stock footage for most of the pocket-sized action.  I suppose it goes without saying that Curse of the Puppet Master is shorn of stop-motion wizardry.  Despite these frailties, I'm cool with this entry.  It didn't piss me off like PM2; consonantly, it didn't bore me numb like PM5.  Success?

9/12/13

Hindu Ritual of the Week

Upanayanam.

9/11/13

A quick word about Frankenstein's Army...


This film has been marketed heavily online, so I broke down and rented it.  I'm happy to report no signs of cognitive dissonance.  This is an impressive Frankie flick with a shitload of cool monsters, but be forewarned; it utilizes the "found footage" gimmick.  That's really the only flaw I could find.  It didn't need the handheld motif, and it becomes distracting at certain intervals.  Still, I highly recommend Frankenstein's Army.  The "zombots" are goddamn disturbing.

PS-The next Puppet Master review will surface either tomorrow or Friday.  Patience, kiddies!

9/10/13

Shitty Webcam Site Update Movie Review I Have Heartburn #46

This video is too long.


9/9/13

Puppet Master 5


Disregard the title discrepancy.  Depending on where you look, the five in Puppet Master Five is either a number or a Roman numeral.  If you're holding the VHS box, this avertible sequel is known as Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter.  I swear to Christ, is there any consistency in this series whatsoever?  The plot picks up mere days after the events in the previous entry, and yet, the puppets are different.  Guess who's back?  Fucking Torch!  Where the hell has he been?  For all I care, he could have been dipping Bokeem Woodbine's toenails in mango chutney.  The script does do one thing right; it shows that there are consequences for being found in a hotel with several cadavers.

Needless to say, the cops don't believe our hero's story of doll necromancy.  He's a prime suspect, but is allowed to be released on bail.  The bulk of the action takes place in a familiar setting.  I've seen this lush auberge in several movies now, and I'm growing weary of it.  At least Camp Crystal Lake was outside, perched with vernal foliage and framed in a wide variety of climate changes.  PM5 looks exactly like PM4.  The characters are just as banal as they were the first time around.  What's worse, we get a smaller dose of Sutekh, the best/worst creature in Full Moon's arsenal of addlebrain devilry.  Here, he instills his spirit into a Totem doll.  With a cape.  A Totem doll with a cape.

The special effects are still laudable.  I have to wonder how long that will last.  The rest of the franchise was shot without the backing of Paramount, a key ingredient that entrusted Charles Band's filmography with some degree of professionalism.  While it's true that a budget doesn't guarantee quality, it certainly helps.  A hearty chunk of the running time is devoted to people bumbling around in dark, umbral hallways.  This flick should have been dubbed Padding: The Movie.  If you omit credits and the futile recap of PM4, you're left with approximately 70 minutes of fresh footage.  Gore?  Nope.  Nudity?  Nope.  Jeff Burr returned to the director's chair, but I honestly couldn't tell.

In terms of the story arc, there isn't much progression.  Not a lot of stuff happens, which might be the worst comment that you can level at a monster mash.  I'm actively trying to think of something I dug.  Yeah, the puppets are cool, but so fucking what?  They're cool in each installment.  I barely remember the death sequences.  Egads.  Basically, Puppet Master 5 is a diluted version of its predecessor.  I have reached the halfway point, and I am quavering with consternation.  When I'm an old man, I will look back at these reviews and sigh.  I'll probably cry a little.  It gets better, right?  Right???

9/8/13

The (Wrestling) Underground in America

Last night, I attended a local wrestling show.  This is a recap.  I didn't have a camera available, so please enjoy these random Halloween Havoc images instead.



Ever heard of PWX Wrestling?  Me neither.  It's a small promotion based in Charlotte, NC.  They make it a point to hit the "dirt fuck" towns, which I greatly appreciate.  Hickory doesn't get shit.  Oddly enough, I wouldn't have known about this event were it not for my cousin.  He spotted a flyer and - knowing that I'm a haughty, autocratic wrestling nerd - passed the information along to my receptionist.  A few names stood out, namely (pun intended, assholes) Matt Striker, Cheerleader Melissa, Joey Ryan and Colt Cabana.  Melissa is one of the best female workers on the planet.  I've always enjoyed Striker's contributions to WWE, and I was bummed out when his contract expired.

To be brutally honest, I'm ambivalent towards Joey Ryan and Colt Cabana.  I know, I know...Colt is a deity to smarks.  I don't dislike him.  Obviously, he's gifted in the ring, but his frothy, comedic style doesn't appeal to me.  To each his own.  Anyway, I made sure to arrive early.  Why?  Because my Saturday nights are tantamount to those of a Syrian refugee (topical AND offensive).  Plus, I wanted to see if I could nab an autograph or perhaps a quick word with one of the wrasslers.  I succeeded on both fronts.  In fact, I spoke briefly to Matt Striker.  The dude is ripped, not that you would ever know from watching old episodes of Smackdown.



While I'm on the subject, I'll recount his match first.  There was a fantastic injury spot, and the bout was stopped for nearly ten minutes.  My mom bought it, which means that Striker did a great job of selling a concussion.  He put over a rookie by the name of Adam Page.  I had never heard of half of the card, and I'm fairly knowledgeable on the subject (I pulled my groin-quad patting myself on the back just now...don't ask where the groin-quad is located).  For what it's worth, the younger cats were rock solid.  There were no bad matches per se.  Did I have a favorite, you may ask?  That's what the next paragraph is for.

Cheerleader Melissa versus motherfucking Mia Yim...see, this is why the so-called "indie circuit" is invaluable.  In my opinion, the show-stealer was a women's match.  You'll never say that about Raw or Impact (well, maybe Impact two or three years ago).  My exposure to Yim was limited, but I knew that she was badass.  As of right now, I heart/worship her, and I've been trying to find as many of her matches as possible.  Holy shit.  This was a stiff, fucking intense fight that brandished sick grappling, measured pacing and plenty of "fuck yeah" moments.  Well done, ladies!  On a sidenote, Melissa signed a Shimmer DVD that I happened to pick up.  Love.  Her.



The main event pitted Colt Cabana against Joey Ryan.  I believe the term "crowd pleaser" would be appropriate.  It was lighter in tone, which made sense coming after Melissa/Yim (seriously, they brought the house down).  Oh, I totally forgot the triple-threat tag team contest, a proverbial circus that elicited a "this is awesome" chant.  I hope that I've written enough to sell PWX as quality entertainment.  I know I left a happy camper.  If this piece sounded haphazard, it's because I'm half-asleep.  Man, Warrior is owning Hogan in that picture.  I better shut up before I pass out on the keyboard.  I'm going to start typing nonsense in a minimum here.  Minute.  In a minute here.  Lilac buckets?  Pleather, coriander, Newsradio...hey, did you return the tank?

9/7/13

Album Cover of the Week


9/6/13

Matches That Time Forgot #57

I've outdone myself.  This match is so forgotten, I'm almost convinced that it was a dream I had last night.  A fever dream.  A wet fever dream.  From the tenebrous bowels of 1999-era WCW, I bring you Madusa versus Patty Stonegrinder.  Yep.  This actually happened.  Now, I want you to watch this match.  You'll have several questions, the most pressing being...who in the cobalt fuck is Patty Stonegrinder???  Folks, I'm about to blow your goddamn mind.  I mean, you literally won't believe what I'm about to tell you, even if you're a fairly well-seasoned wrestling fanatic.

Frumpy biker bitch Patty Stonegrinder competed at Wrestlemania X.  Read that sentence again.  Because it's true.  Guess what else?  It was a title match.  As a matter of fact, today's match that time forgot is a Wrestlemania rematch, only the names have been changed.  In 1994, Alundra Blayze defended her WWF Women's Championship against Leilani Kai, former tag team partner of The Fabulous Moolah.  It's a small world, ain't it?  From an artistic standpoint, 1999 was a pitiful year for the business (and that applies to both major companies), but this shit was hot.  Well, maybe this particular shit wasn't so hot.  We are reminded that David Flair will put the U.S. strap on the line later in the telecast.

I may have found the worst episode of Nitro ever.


9/5/13

Need to do stuff...

I really need to get back to work on my archiving.  A small chunk of the "Matches That Time Forgot" section is done, but I'm finding that all of the old videos don't work anymore.  That's...that's annoying.  I'll probably tackle music reviews next.  Somebody send me inspiration.

9/3/13

Puppet Master 4


Oxycodone.  I need it to review this movie.  I'm exaggerating, but man, Charles Band must think his fans are dolts.  In his defense, I am, in fact, a dumbass.  After all, I signed up to review this entire franchise.  But back to Band insulting my intelligence; Friday the 13th purists enjoy exscinding the continuity errors in their favorite genre tentpole series, but Jason's exploits are damn near orderly compared to these films.  God, where do I start?  Torch is on the poster (as well as the VHS cover), but he's a no-show in Puppet Master 4 itself.  The storyline disregards the chain of events in PM2.  We're supposed to forget Andre Toulon's ignoble, unavailing heel turn and dismiss his backsliding apostate ways from our memory banks.

Guy Rolfe reprises his role from PM3, though we only see his face when Toulon materializes to guide his puppets in spirit.  The plot is so fucking random.  We pick up at the Bodega Bay Inn (which is still in business?) where we meet its caretaker, a young tech whiz who lends robotic engineering data to...some corporate project.  Strange packages are delivered to him and his cohorts.  The contents?  A portentous wicker figure.  I mean, I'm assuming that Totem was crocheted out of wicker.  It looks like wicker, but I can't imagine Sutekh being an "arts and crafts" kind of guy.  Oh, who is Sutekh?  I could write a novel about this goofy motherfucker.

Sutekh is Lord of the Underworld, and he claims that Toulon stole his magic.  Fuck, he's the most glorious rubber monster I've ever seen.  You can tell that he's 100% animatronic because his movements are as stiff as an erection joke.  Sorry, I honestly couldn't come up with a decent erection joke.  His mouth barely palpitates when his super scary voice preponderates the soundtrack.  At any rate, the whiz and his buddies (lolz) resuscitate Pinhead, Six Shooter, Jester, Tunneler, Blade and Decapitron.  Together, they fend off the Totem cavalry.  Well, most of them.  Jester is absolutely useless.  And he has a cumtard expression on his face like he just saw his sister take a shit on his grandmother.

If you can overlook the mentally deficient script, PM4 is admissible entertainment.  Director Jeff Burr brings a funhouse atmosphere to the table.  I don't care what anyone says.  Burr can dish out strapping b-snacks, as proven by the likes of The Stepfather 2 and Night of the Scarecrow.  He also helmed Puppet Master 5.  The two cheapies were shot back-to-back, which shouldn't surprise anyone.  Puppet Master 4 was mapped out with pacing in mind, so you don't realize that the ending is nonsensical until the credits actually roll.  What does Decapitron do exactly?  How did he conquer Sutekh?  Am I awake right now?

This flick is loopy, but I dug it.  It's easy to watch, and the effects-heavy sequences are well-staged.  If you're pining to see Pinhead and Tunneler play laser tag, here is your chance!

9/1/13

Album Cover of the Week


Yes!  Thanks to Matt once again.

Blood Capsule #37

PUPPET MASTER III: TOULON'S REVENGE (1991)

A drab, heather-slate fullscreen transfer can't mask endearing storytelling or nuanced performances given by veteran actors.  Real quick, though...fullscreen?  Really?  I refuse to buy this series on Blu-ray.  I won't do it.  I just can't believe that one of the most filling entries in the Puppet Master series is presented as a VHS rip.  Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by Toulon's Revenge.  It's a prequel set in Nazi Germany that grants us a glimpse into the genesis of our malignant marionettes.  We learn the impetus behind Blade and Leech Woman, for example.  Ol' Andre is making waves with his "high-tech" puppet shows, and Nazi officials are keen to discover his secret.

I have neglected to mention this in my other reviews, but the stop-motion effects are simply stupendous.  The puppets themselves are fluid and glutted with character.  Six Shooter is a dandy addition to the gang, but to be blunt, Guy Rolfe steals the screen as Toulon.  He's a protagonist again (like in the original), and Rolfe does a copacetic job of conveying his innate warmth.  I wanted the good guys to win, so this totally works as a revenge movie.  It actually has replay value.  The franchise probably should have stopped here, but I haven't even reached the halfway point yet.  Hopefully, the next sequel is directed by - oh, I don't know - Jeff Burr.  Just throwing a random name out there.