BLADE: THE IRON CROSS (2020)

Blade - The Iron Cross.jpg

Studio:     Full Moon Features
Director:    John Lechago
Writer:     Roger Barron
Producer:  Charles Band
Stars:     Tania Fox, Vincent Cusimano, Roy Abramsohn, Griffin Blazi, Todd Gajdusek, Angelica Briones, Derek Petropolis, Bobby Reed

Review Score:

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Summary:

A psychic newspaper reporter uses a supernatural puppet to uncover a Nazi conspiracy to raise an undead army.


Synopsis:     

Review:

Full Moon is dead. If the final nail in their coffin wasn¡¯t ¡°Necropolis: Legion,¡± it was certainly ¡°Corona Zombies¡± (review here). That makes ¡°Blade: The Iron Cross¡± two tons of cement poured over their grave to ensure the corner-cutting company has no chance of rising to its former B-movie glory ever again.

There¡¯s no need to rehash specifics about Full Moon¡¯s ever-deepening decline, which continues to surprise only in how the outfit innovates new schemes to sink lower. Charles Band¡¯s ¡®Deadly Ten¡¯ initiative promised a faint beacon of hope. By resurrecting a few flagship titles with fresh films, the project appeared geared toward reconnecting with former fans who had tired of Band¡¯s 21st-century trickery. A new ¡®Subspecies¡¯ movie? Alright! A ¡°Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama¡± sequel co-directed by Brinke Stevens? Why not?

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, ¡°Blade: The Iron Cross¡± affirms that Full Moon¡¯s major interest in exploiting old properties isn¡¯t to provide the Friday night fun and throwback thrills of their VHS rental heyday. This is just another trashy trap to suck money from good faith viewers treated as mere marks in a never-ending con game.

It shouldn¡¯t be hard. No one expects a 10-course Michelin menu and a suite at Four Seasons (a real one, not the landscaping company alleyway that disgraced attorneys book for laughable press conferences). I¡¯m only asking for a simple flick that takes me back to a time when picking up the latest Full Moon tape at Blockbuster was followed by a trip to Taco Bell for an evening of easy entertainment on the couch. This should even be doable with the same slim number of pinched pennies put into ¡°Blade: The Iron Cross.¡± You just need exponentially sincerer effort than anyone appears willing to invest here.

¡°Blade: The Iron Cross¡± isn¡¯t all bad. It¡¯s mostly bad, although it at least has a story, which is more than most modern Full Moon features can claim. The convoluted plot still reads like it was written in an afternoon, which is probably twice as long as the film took to shoot. It¡¯s a mess made out of a 10-year-old¡¯s imagination: mad Nazi scientists, reanimated corpses, secret lairs, coded Egyptian scrolls, a giant antenna emitting a ¡°death ray,¡± a Russian psychic who is also a newspaper reporter, etc. Andre Toulon¡¯s titular puppet barely squeezes in here and there, mostly to do yawn-worthy things like turn his head or have his knife arm sharpened by a seminude woman. I wouldn¡¯t be surprised in the slightest if screenwriter ¡®Roger Barron¡¯ revealed ¡°The Iron Cross¡± started as something else before forcing Blade to fit somehow, though I¡¯m not sure how interviewing a pseudonym would work.

Take away its ¡®Puppet Master¡¯ heritage and nothing would differentiate ¡°Blade: The Iron Cross¡± from any other DTV dreck made on a nickel in some amateur¡¯s garage. The entire shebang was filmed on a cramped stage with almost all action pushed up against a wall for a flattened feel. The camera fails to rack focus whenever anyone moves forward or backward, resulting in more than a few fuzzy images. I can practically picture the guy who makes those awful ¡°Robert the Doll¡± movies watching this and marveling, ¡°I thought I made cheap killer doll chunder. This low bar makes my knockoffs look like ¡®The Godfather¡¯.¡±

¡°Blade: The Iron Cross¡± takes place in Bodega Bay circa 1945. Pay no attention to the downtown L.A. skyline used for several careless cutaways, lest the panorama of electrified skyscrapers that wouldn¡¯t be built for another 70 years pulls you out of what¡¯s supposed to be a period piece.

You¡¯re more likely to feel like you¡¯re alongside Adam West in an old episode of ¡°Batman¡± than in whatever era is supposedly depicted. The villainous Nazi engineering undead super soldiers operates a blocky box with oversized buttons comically labeled ¡®Execute¡¯ and ¡®Vitalize¡¯ like it was manufactured by whoever made The Riddler¡¯s gadgets. Other props are equally goofy, though not as gigantic, and everybody has one. A blustering newspaper editor stereotypically chomps on a stogie as big as his belly. A detective who couldn¡¯t pass for a rookie beat cop in 2020, never mind a Humphrey Bogart gumshoe who reports to a district attorney instead of a police captain for some reason, swizzles a toothpick between his lips. It¡¯s all so tacky, which is a perfect word to describe the movie¡¯s lazy aesthetic.

I really don¡¯t know what I need to ¡°review.¡± The Full Moon name used to mean something. It still does, except now that name is synonymous with rubbish. We know what we¡¯ll get from them nowadays, which will never be more than the bare minimum ¡°Blade: The Iron Cross¡± delivers: A ripoff runtime that struggles to outlast an hour. Actors who know they¡¯re not pulling off any sort of immersive illusion yet aren¡¯t free to be completely campy either, so they give up and do their own things. Don¡¯t forget a main attraction who only appears in the movie bearing his name for maybe five disappointing minutes.

I¡¯m reminded of what happened to actor Randy Quaid. His alarming antics would be funny to laugh at if his obviously untreated mental issues weren¡¯t so frightening. Full Moon isn¡¯t fun to dunk on. It¡¯s a challenge to joke at their expense because what they¡¯ve become saddens me to where I¡¯m angry, not amused. I hate the way their sloppy movies make me feel almost as much as I hate the slapdash products themselves. I may have to admit it¡¯s time to stop fooling with their films, even if Full Moon doesn¡¯t realize the same thing.

Review Score: 25