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OK, everyone is now pretty much fed up with ‘found footage’ films and while Frankenstein’s Army (FA) does use it, it’s used to good effect. So, don’t panic when you see the first few minutes of the soldier explaining that he’s the unit camera man and is there to document the proceedings.
The story is as thus: Toward the end of World War II, Russian soldiers pushing into eastern Germany stumble across a secret Nazi lab, one that has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of one Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The scientists have used the legendary Frankenstein’s work to assemble an army of super-soldiers stitched together from the body parts of their fallen comrades — a desperate Hitler’s last ghastly ploy to escape defeat. (from IMDb)
I was afraid, initially, that there’d end up being more war footage than monster footage, but that fear was alleviated at the twenty minute mark where we see our first beastie (below).
The twenty minutes is a good chance for us to get acquainted with our comrades. Each soldier has his own character. One is the leader, one is the second in command and level headed, one is a bit gung-ho, one is very timid, one never speaks, and so on. Each of whom gets worse as the film goes on. I should add that no one actually speaks Russian/German in the film. It’s all English dialogue with a Russian/German accent to it.
Having entered the mysterious location the Ruskie soldiers find a survivor who leads them to ‘the doctor’. Of course, the survivor knows better and scarpers the first chance he gets leaving our comrades wandering the halls lost. It’s here they discover more mechanical monsters.
The forty minute mark is where we get a twist in the story. It explains most of the proceeding forty minutes quite well and takes the story into a new direction. for the sake of their families our comrades are forced to carry on deeper into Frankenstein’s lair.
At about fifty minutes in we (ie: the camera man) is separated from the group and we follow his progress for a while as he discovers Frankenstein’s living quarters and some partially formed monsters.
The one hour mark is where we get our first look at the man himself (Frankenstein) and are given explanations for his work.
I don’t want to give away the twists in the story and the ending, but suffice it to say that Frankenstein is completely loopy.
The sets are really well done in that old mechanical, steamy, way that we all love. The effects are really good with some head shots and what-not. The star of the show, for me anyway, are the monsters. There are some really imaginative designs and the’re all well executed. Some are lumbering big creatures, some are fast aggressive beasts. I’ve shown a couple of them in the screens above, but there are many many more madcap designs. Also, from what I could see, there was no CGI. Everything looks practical. The only possible CGI is the ageing effects on the film to make it look like old 1940’s film stock.
All in all, I’m impressed! I went into this thinking it’d be cheap looking and only have a couple of creatures, or a couple of creature flashes, but I was wrong.
I’ll certainly be looking out for what comes next from this director.