As a found footage Second World War horror movie, on paper director Richard Raaphorst first feature may sound immensely uneventful, blending as it does two very popular and horrendously overdone genre elements together.
However, thanks to the awe inspiring inventiveness of the monsters in this movie, Frankenstein’s Army is anything but boring or derivative. Instead it propels the audience into a frantic and fantastic ride through a house of horrors they will never forget.
As mentioned, the set-up is simple enough as a gang of rag tag Russian soldiers are tasked with pushing into eastern Germany during WW2. Their entire mission documented for prosperity to serve as the perfect propaganda for Stalin.
Discovering twisted corpses and malformed bodies along the way, the team stumble upon a secret Nazi lab where a demented doctor has been carrying out unholy experiments on his troops to create a Frankenstein’s Army for Hitler to use against the Allies.
Realising that they’ve walked straight into a bad dream brought to life, the Russians desperately battle against the never ending barrage of mutated monsters that spring from all around them, trying to cheat death before they fall into the hands of the man responsible for bringing these chaotic creatures to life. The worst fate being that they too might become another one of his terrible creations.
With a simple story excellently executed, Raaphorst does a great job moving the movie along creating tension until the tipping point where all hell breaks loose and the Russian military men are besieged by a myriad of marvelous monsters.
And the monsters are what this film is all about.
Working for many years in the art department of many motion pictures, Raaphorst inventive eye is clearly on display with character design on a par with Guillermo del Toro, except far more gory.
Blending people with animals, weapons and machinery in all manner of creative and disgusting ways, Raaphorst crafts creatures ripped straight out of your worst nightmares, with plane propeller faced freaks, gas masked stilt legged soldiers and crab claw monstrosities to name but a few.
A self-confessed action figure freak, Raaphorst’s monsters are all insane and individual. In fact there are so many different creatures on display you can’t take them all in at once, making it a perfect film for home viewing as you can rewind and rewatch them again and again.
Taking its cues from Dead Snow and Outpost the film also brings to mind the gothic stylised freaks from Silent Hill. And Frankenstein’s Army also shares another similarity with that particular film in that many times along the way you feel as if you are trapped in a computer game in the best, most visceral way.
The frenetic first person camerawork, added to the ghost train jumps as more marvelous monstrosities emerge to slaughter the soldiers keeps you totally engaged and entertained. On a whole the film is far more serious and scary than you may have thought given the campy, retro vibe the scenario seemingly implies.
Far superior to any other WW2 horror film in recent years, Frankenstein’s Army is a warped and wonderful work, offering up a barmy army ripped from Raaphorst’s insane imagination. It gives a brilliant blood covered bestiary to its audience that does not disappoint.
Off the back of this excellent debut we can’t wait to see what comes out of his marvelous, malformed mind next!
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