Frankenstein’s Army (2013) “Monsters Galore!”

Look at all the monsters!  They know what we came to see.

Look at all the monsters! They know what we came to see.

I had been wanting to see this one for a while now, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it show up on Netflix streaming earlier this week.  Other than a couple of awesome looking images, and a trailer I had seen months ago, I didn’t know anything about this movie.  I certainly didn’t know it was one of those confangled “found footage” films that seem to be all the rage these days.  Frankly, if I had known, I may not have given this flick a go.

Boy am I glad I did give this movie a shot!  I found it to be extremely refreshing, both in terms of its creative creatures and production design, and its good use of the new-but-already-tired found footage format.

In a nutshell Frankenstein’s Army follows a small squad of Russian Soldiers in WWII as they head into the countryside searching for another Russian patrol which need reinforced.  One member of the squad is a college educated filmmaker, tasked with recording the exploits of the team for posterity.  The squad makes its way to a desolate church, near an equally desolate town.  There they discover strange equipment and experiments, and ultimately the titular Frankenstein’s Army!!

Frankensteins Army Zombot 4Lets talk about the found footage aspect first.  Normally I dislike this format quite a bit, but in this film it really works.  First we are given an explanation as to why, in universe, someone is recording everything we are seeing.  Normally, as soon as some shit goes down and people start dying, you wonder why anyone would continue recording things on a camera.  In this movie their original explanation is updated and reinforced with a mostly believable explanation.  Second, this movie looks like it was shot on actually film, rather than digitally with some kind of old-school grain filter applied.  Often the film will be blurry, or have faults or color distortions that help sell the illusion.  Lastly, the camera shaking is kept to a minimum.  During some running scenes the camera flings about, but these are not too frequent.

That being said, lets get to the heart of the matter:  The monsters!  Yeah, this is pretty much what did it for me.  I had seen some images, and thought the monsters looked pretty sweet, but I only expected maybe 2-3 different varieties of undead Nazi zombie robots.  That would have been swell.  Instead we’re given the full treatment of dozens of different Nazi Zombots!  All of which were practical special effects, no CG, who all had extremely unique and creative designs.  These creatures were an absolute delight, and frankly they alone are worth the price of admission.  Words can’t do this justice, take a look:

Frankensteins Army Zombot 3 Frankensteins Army Zombot 1 Frankensteins Army Zombot 2

Yup, and there are plenty more where that came from.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to see these things in the flesh, not made in a computer.  Additionally, the variety among them was wonderful.  Just when you thought you’d seen the coolest and strangest looking one, something else shows up that is even crazier and more awesome!

I have to say watching this movie was an absolute delight from start to finish.  I’m so glad I had a chance to see this movie, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again to pick out all the cool stuff that was going on in the background.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what writer/director Richard Raaphorst gets up to next!

 

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