Charles Band’s Puppet Master franchise is nothing if not durable. Since 1989 there have been thirteen films. Twelve from Band’s companies and a reboot, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich with a different backstory from Fangoria/Cinestate. Now Band and Full Moon have added another to the roster this one set after Puppet Master: Axis Termination but before the original Puppet Master. Blade: The Iron Cross, is the first solo appearance of any of the puppets.
Psychic Elisa Ivanov (Tania Fox, Art of the Dead, Choke) is having dreams of bodies, burnt beyond recognition. The thing is, bodies are turning up where she dreams they are. This makes her boss at the newspaper happy, Officer Hallehan (Lee Sargent) and his partner (Noel Jason Scott, Slice & Dice, For Jennifer). Lieutenant Gray (Vincent Cusimano, Monsters in the Woods, Grindsploitation) however thinks shew might be onto something.
What she’s onto is Ingenieur Erich Hauser (Roy Abramsohn, VHYes, Escape From Tomorrow) and his plans to create a zombie army to turn the tide of WWII in Hitler’s favour. But he doesn’t know that Elisa has a small, deadly friend who doesn’t like Nazis.
On the plus side, Blade: The Iron Cross is miles ahead of Corona Zombies, Necropolis: Legion and most of the other crap Full Moon has been putting out lately. There is an actual plot for once, and a cast that can act. That alone is a welcome change from the endless lame stoner jokes that make up the Evil Bong franchise. The whole Nazi zombie thing is a bit tired, but director John Lechago (Blood Gnome, Killjoy Goes to Hell) and writer Neal Marshall Stevens (Super Hybrid, Thir13en Ghosts) using his Roger Barron alias manage to fashion an enjoyable horror noir out of it.
That, however, is also the biggest problem with Blade: The Iron Cross. This isn’t supposed to be a horror noir, it’s supposed to be about a killer puppet. Blade is barely in his own movie. And a lot of the time he’s not doing much. I’m sure part of that has to do with budget constraints, but that’s really no excuse. If I was a hardcore Puppet Master fan I’d be feeling very cheated.
When Blade does get to kill the scenes are well done, there’s just not nearly enough of them. His most spectacular scene is a jaw dropping bit of effects. It also makes no sense and seems to involve some psychic puppet ability the filmmakers pulled out of their asses.
Taken for what it is, Blade: The Iron Cross is a fun watch. As an entry in the Puppet Master franchise, not so much.