FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (2013) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with this odd mish-mash of a film. Frankenstein’s Army is one of those horror movies which is presented as Found Footage for no reason and even though it’s set during World War 2 it’s being filmed in color for no reason at all and it’s being filmed by a Russian film crew for ABSOLUTELY no reason at all.
Okay, to be serious I will admit that having the story told from the perspective of a Russian army unit is a nice novelty. I think most viewers are pleased that they don’t have to endure yet another group of armed American stereotypes fighting a war while bantering with each other.
It’s the closing weeks of the war in the European Theater of Combat and our Soviet soldiers are on a secret mission to extract Dr Victor Frankenstein, the latest mad scientist descendant of that infamous family. Little do they know they’re in for a nightmarish battle against re-animated, refitted and mechanized corpses even stranger than Herbert West’s creations.
Dr Frankenstein has been doing experiments for the Germans, working on those Top Secret “wonder weapons” that Hitler and his propogandists kept reassuring the suffering German civilians about. Stalin wants our heroes to determine the nature of Frankenstein’s creations and take him into custody to continue his work for the blood-soaked Soviet dictator.
You’d think the camera crew would be along to film ONLY Frankenstein’s work but no, they film EVERYTHING, making this yet another Found Footage flick to piss away its pacing with interludes that are as dull as real life. There are some decent renderings of the nearly post-apocalyptic German countryside but the color footage reveals how inauthentic the movie’s Russian and German uniforms are.
The creative team behind Frankenstein’s Army may have thought that a Found Footage approach would make their film stand out from the many other Nazi zombie movies out there or it may have been purely a budgetary matter. Either way, I feel this story would have benefited from a more straightforward approach instead.
Gradually our Soviet soldiers encounter more and more obvious creations of the deranged Dr Frankenstein – slain soldiers whose corpses have been redesigned to be walking weapons, then reanimated and sent back into the field. The nature of the diesel-punk mecha-zombies gets more and more gruesome the closer the soldiers get to Frankenstein’s castle laboratory.
Many of the designs for the hybrid zombie-robots are inventive, but gamers often say the designs are ripoffs of a certain video game series. At any rate the variety of diesel-punk zombies is the most memorable part of this movie. If or when they reboot Phantasm I’d like to see the Tall Man modify human corpses into walking weapons like THIS instead of using midgets.
Once the Soviets still alive reach the castle laboratory the viewer may think things are headed for a decent finale but no. Instead there’s more piddling around punctuated by a lot of gore here and there as both corpses and living victims are found in various states of “being upgraded.” Some are dull, some are like the multiple mutated Ripley clones in Alien: Resurrection.
Frankenstein’s Army has plenty of ghoulish thrills, a very high body count and its entertaining enough for a viewing maybe once every so many years, but it’s certainly not a Halloween staple. I won’t spoil the ending by letting you know if there are any survivors or if so how many.
Instead I’ll close by saying that I believe the movie would have been better if about 8 or 9 minutes had been trimmed from the run-time AND if they’d have done the ending I thought we were headed for: one in which it turns out that American intelligence agents on an Operation: Paperclip-style mission to recruit Dr Frankenstein had been the “other arrangements” the mad scientist was referring to.
I feel that would have been a nice little twist, after all the Soviet soldiers went through to get Doctor F, only to get screwed Ash Williams style as Victor goes off with the Americans to try making zom-bots for the U.S. instead. +++
FOR MY REVIEW OF SEVEN QUALITY ZOMBIE MOVIES CLICK HERE
FOR MORE HALLOWEEN ITEMS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/halloween-season/
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