I’m a huge Frankenstein fan; in literature, in film & TV, on tattoos… I just can’t get enough of that wacky mad scientist and his misunderstood creature. So am I excited about the release of I, Frankenstein today? Nope.
And I’ll tell you why. The trailers for I, Frankenstein show the monster in modern time, which is a great premise. But WTF, the monster is battling winged demon creatures? Here’s the thing: Frankenstein is the opposite of supernatural, Frankenstein is fear of science: Technology running amuck and the resulting loss of humanity. Frankenstein should not exist in a fantastic realm populated by otherworldly creatures with theological undertones. Frankenstein is the great granddaddy of Cyber Punk and lives in a corporal world of flesh and machinery.
An adaptation of Frankenstein that’s right on the money is Frankenstein’s Army, a wild neo-Gothic WWII Found Footage Horror movie written and directed by Richard Raaphorst.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: Using shocking vintage newsreel footage as his jumping-off point, Raaphorst has hit on a unique and bold premise. 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’s Frankenstein’s work to assemble an army of supersoldiers stitched together from the body parts of their fallen comrades – a desperate Hitler’s last ghastly ploy to escape defeat.
Our name is Dimitri. We’re a documentarian of sorts, attached to a group of Russian Soldiers near WWII’s conclusion. Our job is to follow the soldiers on a mission to rescue trapped comrades from a remote village before they’re executed by the Nazis. With our trusty camera always rolling, we’re right in thick of things, determined to gather as much footage as possible. But we’ve also got a secret agenda that just might put us at odds with the rest of the group.
On our way to an abandoned estate, we see a pile of dead nuns, pillaged graves, and the skeleton of some bizarre creature. Eventually, we creep into the building’s dank catacombs, slinking through claustrophobia-inducing tunnels so slim we walk single-file. Suddenly, we’re descended upon by a pack or ferocious creatures constructed out of rotting bodies and war wreckage. It’s like a Steam Punk convention in Hell. Half the creatures look like members of Slipknot, others like early Borg prototypes.
When we finally meet the mad scientist at the helm (portrayed by Karel Roden), we’re told he’s the grandson of a certain Victor Frankenstein. While his creations may look like abominations against God, he claims a more profound motivation. He promises to spare our life if we agree to film his experiments, for “posterity”. Before our ordeal is through, we’ll witness his unique and twisted methods for promoting world peace and understanding. And we will be terrified.
Frankenstein’s Army will bug those easily bothered by common elements of “Found Footage”: Shaky camera, blurred shots, action seen only in the periphery. I rather enjoyed the “real film” effect of the movie as well as the projector noise that accompanies the film’s opening chapters. Frankenstein’s Army is noisy, but for good reason: It’s not just a Horror movie, is a war movie (and no one complained that Saving Private Ryan was too loud, did they?). The effects are awesome. If they used CGI, I didn’t notice it. The experimentation is hideous and nauseating. Okay, maybe we loose a wee bit of momentum towards the end, but it’s such a roller coaster, it’s hard to keep up that kind of intensity for 90 minutes.
Frankenstein’s Army is a unique combination of established Horror subgenres, paying tribute to the golden age of Creature Features as well as more recent sci-fi and zombie offerings. I had an absolute blast watching this film and, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, Frankenstein’s Army is fucking hilarious. Definitely one I’m proud to recommend.
4 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|Release Date (DVD/Bluray)||September 10 2013|
|Studio||Dark Sky Films|
|Starring||Karel Roden, Alexander Mercury, Joshua Sasse, Luke Newberry, Andrei Zayats, Mark Stevenson, Hon Ping Tang, Cristina Catalina, Robert Gwylim, Jan De Lukovicz|