Frankenstein's Army (2013)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 27, 2013 | Comments
Madman | Region B | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 84 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Richard Raaphorst
Starring: Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym, Alexander Mercury, Luke Newberry
Screenplay: Miguel Tejada-Flores
Country: Netherlands, USA, Czech Republic
I am no fan of found footage films. Sure, some have kicked by arse (Cannibal Holocaust being one) but others just annoyed me to the point of absolute distraction (The Blair Witch Project being the absolute prime offender). I have never subscribed to the idea that it being from a first person point of view puts you 'into the action'. Just like 3D films, which I also am not a great fan of, if I wanted to feel like I was part of the action, I'd go outside and play sportsball, or skydive, instead of seeking out the format I love best: cinema. Anyway, haven't camera companies spent a fortune of anti-shake technology?

Even over and above it being a part of the dreaded shaky-cam sub genre, I admit I was interested in seeing this film, mainly because its title contains one word that will always make me stand up and take notice: 'Frankenstein'. The monster of Frankenstein has always been a favourite of mine from the Universal films through to the Hammer ones, and Mary Shelley's book and even Marvel's comics from the 70s are all high on my list of revisits. The idea of a mad scientist creating life has always sat well with me, seeing as how Re-animator is my favourite horror film of all time.

So for me we have a plus in the story idea, and a minus with the old shaky-cam: did it even itself out? Let's find out...

Frankenstein's Army tells of a small platoon of Russians in World War 2 searching for a group of soldiers that have gone missing. Along for the ride is a two man camera crew, filming their actions for the glory of Russia. Along the way however, what they find is a descendent of Doctor Frankenstein, continuing his ancestor's work, except instead of attempting to recreate a semblance of human life, this Frankenstein is creating monstrosities by combining human flesh with metal to forge an army of creatures whose sole reason for being is to kill. How can this small platoon survive? They possibly won't...

Director Richard Raaphorst, along with the writing team, have created a film that is an absolute blast to watch. The story, though not exactly ripe with substance, is certainly original in execution. The script is solid and delivered well by all actors involved, and Karel Roden as Frankenstein is inspired, as his performance is villainous and totally insane, though his character remains self justified in what he does, just like a good villain should.

The key element for me though, were the absolutely brilliantly designed, steampunk inspired creatures. I honestly hope that a company like McFarlane Toys does a line of action figures of these in the future as I want a shelf load of them!

The only drawback was the aforementioned first person camerawork. A film with such wildly inventive creature designs and over-the-top gore definitely didn't need to try and trick the viewer into feeling part of the film.

Frankenstein's Army's story had me from the get-go, and as more and more monsters showed up, I was more hooked. Honestly, I was excited by the whole thing, and truly hope a sequel appears at sometime in the near future.
The Disc
Judging the image quality of Frankenstein's Army is quite difficult since this is a' found footage' piece set in the 1940s. The image has been deliberately degraded, with the colours occasionally looking a bit flat. The image is decent though, presented in high definition 16:9 and the post-production ageing of the film doesn't detract from that too much.

Even though it was supposed to have been recorded in the 1940s , Frankenstein's Army makes full used of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound stage. Like the image, the audio has been deliberately aged, with occasional post-production pops and scratches added, not to mention the sound of an old style film camera running to make the found footage seem more real, but the soundtrack is generally vibrant and immersive.

In the extras department, the disc opens with trailers for Hatchet III, Stitches and The Innkeepers.

The are a couple of extras on this disc, the first is a traditional 'making of'. It's very interesting with interviews with cast and crew, a look at production (including pre and post) design and a great pseudo tour of the abandoned mine that was utilised as Frankenstein's laboratory.This is a informative look at low budget filmmaking, with some fascinating behind the scenes footage.

The are a series of 5 creature spots,which are micro-trailers highlighting 5 of the creatures, including Burnt-Match Man, Mosquito Man, Propellerhead, Teddy Bear Woman and Razor Teeth. I admit I was disappointed by these as I thought they were going to be make up effects pieces and not just advertising propaganda.

The extras also offer us a trailer for the film.
The Verdict
Basically, I loved Frankenstein's Army. The production design was outstanding, and the story was so good I was able to forgive the bad idea of filming it first person style.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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