Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Frankenstein's Army (2013)

Title: Frankenstein’s Army (2013)

Director: Richard Raaphorst

Cast: Karel Roden, Alexander Mercury, Luke Newberry, Hon Ping Tang, Andrei Zayats, Mark Stevenson

This one slipped through the cracks for me when it was first released, but I decided to give it a go because of all those positive quotes on the dvd case saying such great things about it. And to be honest, for a low budget straight to video release, the movie rocks; and it rocks even more so because normally, Nazi zombie movies just aren’t that good, but this one is, so there you go. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve only seen one really good Nazi zombie movie and that’s Dead Snow (2009), it’s the only one that’s really satisfied me. I mean, yeah, I’ve seen Shock Waves (1977) which had awesome visuals but was incredibly slow at times. And speaking of slow, Oasis of the Zombies (1982) and Zombie Lake (1981) are two Nazi zombie films that I’d rather forget about, they bored me to death! I’d also seen another one that I consider moderately good called Outpost (2008), my only problem with Outpost was that you didn’t get any Nazi zombies till really late in the film, something that Frankenstein’s Army does not suffer from. And speaking of Outpost, it has many similarities with Frankenstein’s Army from the way it was made; shooting in solated locations to the basic premise of having soldiers enter abandoned claustrophobic buildings with re-animated Nazi soldiers. But anyhow, I can safely say that Frankenstein’s Army is one of the best Nazi zombie films out there, read on and find out why.

On Frankenstein’s Army we follow a troupe of Russian soldiers who are on their way towards rescuing these Russian soldiers from the clutches of the evil nazi’s, their orders are to infiltrate this location and rescue them. Along the way they find some weird things, like dead bodies with weird shapes and appendages. The further in they go, the stranger things get! It isn’t long before they uncover a mad scientist conducting grotesque experiments dealing with the reanimation of dead Nazi’s! But the strangeness does not stop there!

Director Richard Raaphorst fooling around with his creations

This film comes to us from director Richard Raaphorst, a director who first started in the filmmaking business through working in the art department on various films, including work as a conceptual/story board artist in films like Jackie Chan’s Who Am I? (1998), Dagon (2001), Faust: Love of the Damned (2000) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), which is a good thing in my book because it means that we have an artist behind the camera, which means we will probably end up with a film that has a strong visual style, which is the case with Frankenstein’s Army, there’s a real effort on the way things look. The film might be low budget, but director Richard Raaphorst makes the most of his locations. You see, Raaphorst knows the one trick that most low budget filmmakers live by: a great location makes your film look good. In an interview for Daily Dead, Raaphorst said that he didn’t know if the film was going to be made until he found that perfect location, once he found it, he was certain the film was going to happen. Frankenstein’s Army was shot in various abandoned buildings, which were made to look like the laboratory of a German mad scientist, the resulting look is very effective.

The film was shot “found footage” style, now, I’m not a hater of documentary style films because to me they are the best way to get us as audiences completely immersed in the film. The found footage style works great on Frankenstein’s Army because there’s many claustrophobic environments and dark corners, you feel as if you are walking down these creepy halls with these Russian soldiers, you feel as if something might jump out at you from the shadows at any given moment. Best part is that the creatures in Frankenstein’s Army are pretty horrific!

Raaphorst is the driving force behind the look of these creatures, which he designed himself. You see, Raaphorst had been dreaming of making this movie for many years now, he’d always been designing these monsters from childhood. The strange creatures that the mad scientist creates are composed of dead nazi soldiers joined with machines, creating a weird breed between zombie and machine, in this way Frankenstein’s Army has some elements of the cyber punk film, that idea of joining flesh with machine. The further the Russians go down the rabbit hole, the crazier the creatures get. Gotta hand it to Raaphorst, the creatures were the highlight of the film! They look like something that Clive Barker might have cooked up if he’d ever made a Nazi zombie flick. I enjoyed Frankensteins Army a lot, the locations were eerie and the monster designs awesome, but I couldn’t get past the idea that the movie should have gone further with its ideas.

I’ve got very few negative things to say about this one, but there’s the idea that these are Russian soldiers that we are following, but for some reason they speak English the whole time, and I’m like, okay, so they speak English with a Russian accent, fine. But then, their Russian accent comes and goes, and some don’t even have a Russian accent no matter how hard they try, so they come off as American actors trying to sound like Russian’s speaking English? And sometimes it just doesn’t work, but whatever, that was a minor hiccup in the film, it didn’t bother me so much. Also, we get to see cool monsters left and right and the film is filled with gruesome moments and vistas, but sadly we don’t get that big finale which the film seems to build up to, you are left wanting more; which in a way is a good thing because I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel! But considering the budget these guys were working with, I think they got away with a decent horror flick, you get the feeling that Raaphorst could have done more if he only had a bigger budget for effects work, but still, the film is pretty cool none the less. Hopefully some producer out there will notice the great work done here and will give Raaphorst and crew a few more millions to play with. So anyhow,  this is one of the best Nazi zombie films out there, I say give it a shot!

Rating: 4 out of 5   


Occo said...

A funny B-flick. Loved the "Zombots". Maybe the atmosphere could've been stronger, now it felt like an average FPS at times.

Dunno how much I could relate with raping & pillaging protagonists (or care whetever or not they were taken down by the creatures) if they were more 'present' in scenes, so I think that this Found footage stuff was somewhat optimal choice to tell their story.

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Occo, I thought the atmosphere was pretty strong on this one, there's this one scene where they enter into this room with a bunch of bodies hanging from the ceiling....awesome stuff! There was another room filled with fog...cool atmosphere there as well. I dug it.

Loved the zombots too! The director was the driving force behind those, he'd been imagining them since he was a kid!

Agree, the found footage was a good way to go for this film.

Thanks for commenting!


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