Anyone remember Clive Barker’s Tortured Souls, the brilliantly designed McFarlane toy range that promised a movie which sadly got stuck in development hell? There’s a sense of that style of object mutilation in Frankenstein’s Army, the first feature from Richard Raaphorst.
It’s near the end of WWII, and a Russian reconnaisance unit is being filmed for propaganda while pushing into Germany. As mistrust grows between the soldiers and those filming, the true purpose of the mission starts to become clear – they are to find a Nazi scientist who as a descendent of Viktor Frankenstein is continuing his research. Cue the undead Nazi zombie monsters!
The creatures are the real stars of Frankenstein’s Army, and the design and implementation are uniformly excellent. They are varied and inventive, and you get a feeling that there are many more that we have yet to see. Partly as a result, I found myself slightly in two minds about the use of the found footage style used – while it is a comparatively rare case of feeling genuinely linked to the story (niggles like the footage not being in the aspect ratio used at the time fade quickly) and it proves a handy way of working round budgetary and pacing constraints when things kick off, it also limits the amount of monster visibility as the cameraman is generally unsurprisingly trying to get away from them! Of course that’s probably because of the limitations of the budget, but when watching there was the occasional wish they had longer and more detailed screentime.
While solid and entertaining, it’s not a film that will go down in many best-of-year lists, but as a design showcase and potential franchise it is a good start. Now, where’s the toy range… ***1/2