Toward the end of World War II, Russian soldiers pushing into eastern Germany stumble across a secret Nazi lab, one that has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of one Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The scientists have used the legendary Frankenstein’s work to assemble an army of super-soldiers stitched together from the body parts of their fallen comrades — a desperate Hitler’s last ghastly ploy to escape defeat.
“Frankenstein’s Army” arrives right out of the gate chock full of creepy inventively bizarre Nazi creatures. I almost want to make some sort of comparison to the creatures from “Hellraiser“, though these are not creatures from beyond or Hell’s domain, but rather man-made. To be more precise, they are exactly as the title indicates, though the name “Frankenstein” is used more indirect than literal.
“Frankenstein Army”, the movie, is a unique source of brilliance. For starters, it takes the trend of cam footage (this time using an old WW II era film camera) and combines it with a horror/science fiction take on Frankenstein-meets-Nazi theme. The settings, costumes and accents add a great era base that feels authentic enough for viewing satisfaction.
We are introduced to the footage per documenter Dimitri Asna (Alexander Mercury). Dimitri has been assigned the task of filming the “heroic deeds of soldiers” during the great patriotic war per his leader Joseph Stalin. It’s the tail end of WWII as Russian soldiers are on mission to investigate a distress call from a unit named “Tiger Bear 303”.
As they make way thru the bodies of recent battles led by Novikov, this small unit reconnaissance squad is under the impression that they will be encountering Nazi soldiers to do battle against. The search which is filmed each step of the way leads to a somewhat abandoned mining village that has the remaining locals left in fear for their lives. Though it’s not typical Nazi soldiers that they are led into but something far darker and sinister. The team, which is comprised of Sergei. Dimitri, Sasha, Vassil, Misha and Novikov enter into an old church that has been converted into a factory. A local informant alerts them that a “Doctor” has been creating monsters from the leftover remains of Nazi Soldiers. This begins their discovery as he proceeds to lead them down into the doctor’s laboratory lair.
Confronted by odd monsters, the team learns that the doctor has taken the original memos from Dr. Victor Frankenstein and created a mighty army of abominations that only answer to his command. From here it gets really crazy and interesting with all sorts of weapon-garnishing monsters appearing out of nooks and crannies. I began to compare this experience to walking thru a Halloween spook house, though as with any Nazi directive, it is the desperate measures of Nazi experimentation that really fuel this isolated hell on earth.
Viewers who might recall some of the early influential Japanese movies such as “Infra Man” and TV shows like “Johnny Sokko and the Giant Robot“, could easily make inspirational comparisons to these reinvented walking part machine, part weapon, part organic creations. In fact, you could also point to the recent “Tokyo Gore” films that utilize this angle. Frankenstein’s Army creature however are much more home spun, made from scraps-assembled steam punky, which is why they are so fun to look at. Another thought here is that perhaps the work of Guillermo Del Toro served as a influence.
The re-configuring of weapons for hands (which make these monsters quite lethal) are a great touch to the whole experience. I was most impressed by the sheer number variety of creatures that the doctor has managed to pump out which litter the halls guarding his operation. I’m not so sure you could call the film scary, however it is designed to make you jump with sudden appearances of these things popping into view.
In all, we experience everything thru the camera eye, so there is always this “REC” – like experience woven into the presentation. “Frankenstein’s Army” comes out on top with a fresh new idea mixing genres and inspirations to arrive at a really cool movie product. What is best here, is that it is not a total rehash of things we’ve seen before, but at the same time fits right into a certain familiarity.
The film was directed by Richard Raaphorst and written by small team of writers who also include Mary Shelley as inspiration. As primarily a short film director, Richard Raaphorst really hits his mark with this break thru product. You’ll love it enough to own and purchase, “Frankenstein’s Army” has the fun freshness of films like “Dead Snow” laced with a modern POV-rooted production angle that makes it a must see. Bad ass and bizarre, this movie re-invents the Frankenstein them to a whole new level..
Frankenstein’s Army (2013)