Well, yesterday was the DVD/BluRay release of Frankenstein’s Army. And from the poster and some of the screenshots I had seen, this was one movie I definitely had to check out. I didn’t do a whole lot of research before watching it, as sometimes I like to maximize my surprise while watching. So I was sort of surprised that it’s actually shot in a “found footage” style. It also happens to be the first feature film directed by Richard Raaphorst, so how did he do in his debut? Well, allow me to tell you all about it.
Frankenstein’s Army centers around a Russian squad going behind enemy lines to find and rescue another squad who went missing some time before. The rescue mission is being filmed by a soldier named Dmitri, who was entrusted by Joseph Stalin himself to record the events taking place during the mission.
After a successful attack on a sniper nest, and a raid on a farm, the squad decides to make their way to a small mining village nearby. There is something very wrong here, as the squad finds a pile of dead nuns that were set on fire (save for one who somehow survived it but was practically dead), nearby graves that were dug up and the bodies missing, and the entire village seemingly deserted. It’s not long before they realize the village is in fact populated by bizarre monstrosities created by none other than Viktor Frankenstein, the grandson of the legendary Baron Frankenstein who created the very first monster. Now not only must the squad find the missing soldiers and complete their mission, they must somehow survive the onslaught of the nearly unstoppable Nazi creations.
I had a great time watching Frankenstein’s Army. The first ten minutes of the movie wasn’t anything special, just basically spending a little time getting to know the squad members a little. But once they reach the mining village, that’s when things start to get really interesting. While I thought the acting was done well (Karel Roden’s role as Frankenstein stood out among all the others), there wasn’t anything that stood out for me as far as the Russian squad went. I don’t know, maybe it was the similar uniforms or something. They just didn’t really make me care enough about them to feel that much when something bad happened.
The camerawork is what you would expect, and once again better than some mainstream movie’s professional camerawork these days. Sorry, I can’t help bringing that up now and then. I liked the occasional lens switching to increase/decrease the zoom, it was a nice touch given that it’s obviously an older camera. As well, the settings and scenery fit in well. There was a distinct lack of bright colors, leaving everything bland and giving a certain bleak feeling. The underground lab especially leaves you with an uneasy feeling that, were you there, you would be hard pressed to do anything but feel optimistic about the situation.
And the abominations created by Frankenstein? Wow, they were the highlight of the movie for me. They were so varied and creative in their hideousness that I was almost in awe. Even though there was one or two creations that seemed somewhat impractical. But hey, that’s why they call them “experiments” right? According to the official site, they are called “Zombots”, as they are a twisted blend of man and machine. The site also has pictures of most of the Zombots, with their own pet names.
The bottom line is this: you really should make the effort to see Frankenstein’s Army. The grotesque Zombot soldiers alone makes it worth a look, but the performances and the settings accentuate the carnage and insanity that go with them. Until next time, rest in peace.
Macabre Rating:4 out of 5 tombstones