Director: Richard Raaphorst
Writer: Chris W. Mitchell, Miguel Tejada-Flores
Producer: Nick Jongerius, Daniel Koefoed, Greg Newman, Todd Brown
Stars: Karel Roden, Robert Gwilym, Hon Ping Tang, Alexander Mercury, Luke Newberry, Joshua Sasse, Mark Stevenson, Andrei Zayats
Russian soldiers in WWII battle a Nazi squadron of undead creatures created by Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson.
As a story and as a “found footage” movie, “Frankenstein’s Army” leaves something to be desired. But as a spectacle of inventive insanity, “Frankenstein’s Army” is gloriously entertaining.
Under normal circumstances, when a director’s name appears five additional times in the credits (Original Idea by, Story by, Creature Designs, Concept Art, and Storyboards), an accusation of self-indulgent vanity would be perfectly warranted. In the case of Richard Raaphorst, however, it simply illustrates the passionate commitment that the mad scientist behind “Frankenstein’s Army” has for his own warped project.
A more accurate accusation that could be leveled against Raaphorst and his production crew is that “Frankenstein’s Army” is nothing more than a canvas for the design team to let their devious imaginations run wild. There is no better evidence for this claim than the notion that the story could not be any less interested in historical accuracy or silly details like facts.
“Frankenstein’s Army” is a “found footage” tale about a ragtag group of Russian soldiers on a mission to rescue a squadron of comrades trapped behind enemy lines in World War II. What they discover instead is that the grandson of legendary madman Doctor Frankenstein is on orders from Der Fuehrer to reanimate an army of Nazi soldiers from junkyard scrap and discarded body parts. These abominable creations then terrorize Allied forces with their nightmarish fusion of “Bioshock” styled mechanics and twisted grotesqueries from a “Silent Hill” fever dream.
Providing the meat for the monsters’ grinder is a platoon of army men fresh from their tours as stereotypes in every war-themed movie that has ever come before. The youngest recruit is conspicuous in his silence. The hotheaded braggart is anxious to murder and pillage. The sensible Polish refugee provides the level head. And the Jewish cameraman is busy recording it all with his color 16mm synchronous sound film camera that shoots in a 16:9 format, despite it being 1945.
Since the movie itself is not overly concerned with glaring anachronisms and a boilerplate setup, the audience should let it slide too. Because story finishes in a distant second place when the main attractions feature a blade-armed monstrosity wearing an iron maiden for a mask and a lumbering hulk of rusty flesh with an airplane propeller for a face.
The first act trudges up a hill like flanking riflemen meeting heavy resistance. Yet once the movie tops its crest, “Frankenstein’s Army” makes a charge at the finish line with breakneck speed and relentless ferocity.
What the “found footage” format offers is a first-person perspective that makes the film feel like a night spent at Six Flags Fright Fest. With monsters striding from every darkened corner while the camera runs down narrow hallways and into dustily dressed rooms, “Frankenstein’s Army” makes a perfect surrogate to tide one over until annual maze attractions return for Halloween season.
Without a doubt, the eighty minutes of madness comes with its fair share of shortcomings. But the inspired delirium of Karel Roden as the demented doctor and the horrific hilarity of his insane creations more than makes up for the film’s weaker aspects. Set aside any expectations of genre-defining filmmaking and settle in for Viktor Frankenstein’s version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Review Score: 75