Though independent horror movies have been a home video staple for the longest time, they typically do not really tickle my fancy all that much. However, once in a while, a film comes along that looks and sounds so intriguing that I really decide to dig in. "Frankenstein's Army" was one such film, as it promised a cool setting with highly imaginative monsters.
"Frankenstein's Army" takes place during World War II when a group of Russian Soldiers are sent on a special mission deep into enemy territory. Coming along with them is a cameraman to document the campaign.
As they are entangled in small skirmishes, the soldiers find evidence for a strange kind of soldier, kind of a super soldier almost, when at last they end up a desolate warehouse. Here they make a shocking discovery. In this facilty, a scientist's lab, actually, a NAZI madman has been at work building an army of freak soldiers. In the best tradition of Victor Frankenstein he has been assembling super soldiers from parts of the dead and other sources. As these monsters are closing in around the Russian soldiers, they find themselves in the struggle of their lives as they try to survive and destroy the madman's army at the same time. Not an easy feat when you have yet another horrifying creature lurking just around the next corner.
"Frankenstein's Army" turns out to be an enjoyable romp, for the most part. I have to admit that I simply do not care for the extreme shaky cam the movie employs throughout, as this Blair Witch style is truly nausea-inducing, doing more harm than good in a film. While it may seem like a good idea to give the viewer a sense of authenticity and the impression to be right there in the action, the fact of the matter is that it usually just gets in the way of the film and constantly jars you out of the experience reminding you that you are only watching a movie after all. Note to directors: Real life is not that blurry and our heads and eyes do not move that erratically either.
What I did love about the film, however, was its inventiveness. The array of monsters and the creativity behind it is staggering. They are a cool mix, offering almost a steampunk kind of feel, but one that goes for the jugular and spares neither blood nor gore. You can tell that the director of the film is actually an artists who designed and painted all the creatures himself, and who approached the film with a very visual style. It pays off big time in that it provides the film with a style and a class which truly sets "Frankenstein's Army" apart from most of the low budget shlock that makes it to home video.
The transfer on this Blu-Ray disc is generally good. Since the intention of the film is to simulate a 16mm documentary-style film, the image itself is grainy at times and blurry, so all such aberrations are intentional, of course.
As special features you will find a Making-Of featurette on the disc, giving you a look behind the scenes as director Richard Raaphorst allows you to be a fly on the wall during the production. He talks about his ideas, the conception of the story, the location and many other aspects.
The second featurette takes a closer look at the creatures in the film, and it is here where you will see just how much creativity went into this production. Not only from a technical standpoint, creating the creatures and the associated special effects, but also from a conceptual standpoint as the director discusses his ideas that led to these abominable creatures.
Last up is the movie's trailer.
"Frankenstein's Army" is a cool independent horror flick that is ready to satisfy every gorehound with its amount of graphic violence. But unlike most other gorefests it also dishes out a lot of style and cool ideas, making it a good notch better than you might expect. Check it out if you have the chance.