Ever since Frankenstein’s Army was announced, I’ve been following this film like a bloodhound. Richard Raaphorst and Chris Mitchell teased me with images, red band trailers, and little bread crumbs of what was to be (or so I could only hope) an amazing WWII monster movie.
And? I wasn’t disappointed. Well . . . not really. Frankenstein’s Army takes place at the tail end of WWII, when Russian Soldiers are knee deep in a mission to obliterate Nazi scum and coincidentally are being documentary-style filmed by a tag-a-long named Dimitri. Because there’s never a bad time for propoganda films. All seems well and normal (for war, that is) until they start noticing strange things along their journey, including badly mutilated corpses. They suddenly lose communication with “Mother.” But despite the inability to call out – they receive a rather odd, albeit panicked, call for assistance from fellow Russians which direct the group to a church not far from their current campsite.
Needless, to say the church is a front. And soon the soldiers discover Dimitri is false as well. You see, Dimitri is really a high ranking officer sent by Mother Russia to capture Dr. Frankenstein (grandson of the original Frankenstein himself) – a slightly touched recruit of Der Fuhrer. Turns out? Nazis hired the good doctor to create the ultimate soldier – out of shredded human flesh.
The movie is filmed à la shaky hand-cam documentary style, and although incredibly well “aged” to capture the time period of the film (other than you know, not being in black and white), its jerky movements and occasional quick pans at times just made me want to gag. That being said, what is captured on the camera is pretty damn impressive. Some of Frankenstein’s creations were made of nightmares. Stitched together parts of rotting flesh adorned with knives or saws for arms and steel for hands and heads. However, some seemed to just be ambiance fillers. And while that’s okay, they probably shouldn’t have gotten as much screen time as they did. Just saying.
Once the Dr. is finally introduced and simultaneously usurps the documentary (taking something that could use some life and giving it just that) the movie gets really good. And gory. Beautifully & stunningly gory. From brains being carefully sliced out of skulls to stunning stitched-together nurses – watching the Dr. work was undoubtedly the greatest part of this film. While I wish there was more humor (if there was any it was missed by me) it wasn’t a bad film by any means. It just could have been so much more than it was. The sets, the monsters, and the actors were there but the script is what really could have used Frankenstein’s creative handy work before filming began.
Regardless, Frankenstein’s Army was definitely a unique take on the Frankenstein genre. And I’m sure quite a few film fans out there will appreciate its artistic rusticness.