Poster by Oink Creative
Frankenstein's Army (2013)
Starring: Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym
Writers: Chris W. Mitchell, Richard Raaphorst, Miguel Tejada-Flores
Director: Richard Raaphorst
Synopsis (From Dark Sky Films):
In the dying days of World War II, a battalion of Russian soldiers find themselves lost in enemy territory. Stumbling upon a village decimated by an unseen horror, they’re lured into the secret lab of a deranged scientist and forced to face off against his army of horrific flesh-and-metal war machines. Leaderless and faced with dissention amongst their dwindling ranks, the Russians must find the courage to face down this terrifying new menace – or die trying.
Frankenstein’s Army should be taken for exactly what it is- a full on gory monster mash, nothing more. While the story has a few interesting twists, it's largely the last in line. The Zombots take the driver’s seat, Viktor Frankenstein rides shotgun, and everything else is in the back.
The POV approach works in favor of Frankenstein’s Army. Most of the film plays as one long shot, and all the thin corridors reminded me of what it’s like to walk through a Halloween haunted house, unaware of what will be lurking around the corners. Visual effects add a film grain aspect, as well as burns, and I honestly could take or leave this gimmick. It didn't take me out of the experience, but it didn't enhance anything for me, either.
On the acting/character front, there’s not a whole lot of concentration or interest on anyone as much as there is on Viktor Frankenstein, played by Karel Roden. That being said, the man turns out one seriously fine performance. He’s completely mad and fairly funny, playing with human body parts like how a child would play with disassembled toys in his bedroom. Roden is the man to watch here.
The real stars in this movie are the Zombots. Special Effects are from Unreal FX, based off of creature designs made by the film’s director/writer, Richard Raahorst. These monsters are amazing and unique. They’re kind of like what Cenobites (with names like Propellerhead and Mosquito) would be, had they been created by Dr. Satan. These undead mechanical ghouls only want to kill and after that, kill some more. Frankenstein’s Army’s gore FX are pretty impressive, too, with the majority of it all being practical. Honestly, the only type of visual gags I can think of are the film grain aspects I mentioned earlier, and some digital cleanup, such as removing stunt wires and whatnot.
If you are familiar with the promo trailer for the once-to-be directed film by Richard Raaphorst, Worst Case Scenario, you’ll only get half of what you’re expecting out of Frankenstein’s Army. I remember seeing said promo a long time ago (2006 apparently, yet I thought it was around 2003 for some reason) and just being completely blown away. So naturally, I went into Frank’s Army expecting a full on Zombot invasion of sorts. If I’m being honest, it’s a lot more restrained than that. Don’t let that mislead you into thinking I was disappointed; I had a great time with the film. And this might even be better as a restrained piece, because it works well with the claustrophobic haunted house type vibe. But wow, that Worst Case Scenario trailer, just, wow. Nevertheless, Frankenstein’s Army is ridiculously fun, with an assortment of some of the coolest ghouls I've seen in a while. Recommended.
Dark Sky Films’ Blu-ray of Frankenstein’s Army is presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, with DTS-HD Master audio. You have a choice of 5.1 or 2.0. Nine times out of ten I go with 5.1 when given the option, which is what I did here. The bomb explosions, the gunshots, and all the freakish noises the Zombots make while maiming are house-shaking. And of course, the film looks beautiful in High Definition. The gore is disgustingly clear, especially when it comes to scenes involving brains. You’ll love it.
Making of Frankenstein’s Army- a 32 minute featurette with cast and crew interviews. This is a particularly interesting watch for hearing and seeing Richard Raaphorst himself, going into the production of the film and the conceptual designs of the Zombots. This guys is super passionate and amazing when it comes to creation. I really hope to see more directorial efforts from him in the future.
Creature Spots- little snippets of several of the mechanical monsters from Frankenstein’s Army.
Trailer- Theatrical trailer for the film.
-Eric King (Brobocop)