Some of the best genre films come about when you take a number of different influences and ideas and meld them together to create something new, much like Frankenstein did when he created his monster. This monster of a movie doesn’t quite succeed but you can tell the film makers gave it their best shot.
Frankenstein’s Army concerns a troop of Russian soldiers at the tail end of World War 2 who, while laying to waste the now retreating Nazi forces, receive a call for help from a fellow Russian squad a few miles away. When the troop arrive at the squad’s location they find a Nazi bunker where some truly weird experiments have been occurring. What is it with Nazis and their experiments? They were obsessed, at least that’s what horror movies tell us. We’ve had Nazi zombies, werewolves, brain surgeries, devil worshipping and now, well, a mixture between zombies, steampunk and large gardening equipment. Look at these bathroom interlopers:
There’s no two ways about it, the variety of monsters and creations are the stars of this show, and they are hideous and hilarious in equal measures. One chap has a massive drill bit protruding from his gas masked face and wanders around on stilts – how does this guy eat for god’s sake? Another is just a pair of legs sticking out of a big bass teapot with a swastika on the front. They’re nuts. They look like they’ve been thrown together by a madman, but at the same time the design is just beautiful. So are the rest of the sets and costumes, everything is dirty and used and lived in, really amazing.
There’s a problem though, I didn’t tell you this is a found footage movie did I? I like this subgenre quite a lot even if the films do end up not knowing how to end and either finish with the camera falling over or the film breaking while someone screams. As the film is set in the forties they’ve tried to make the footage look authentic by adding scratches and burn marks, they’ve added a lovely detail of when the cameraman changes lenses. However if they really wanted to make if look real they would have had to go much further, it looks like video, there’s no getting away from it. Some of the colour grading is way off what old footage would have looked like. Also it would never have been in widescreen. If they really wanted it to work it should have been in 4.3 but then of course that wouldn’t have worked as a film with modern audiences. So essentially what we have is a problem. Found footage films have to LOOK like real found footage to work, but if they had have actually made It look real it wouldn’t have been acceptable as a proper film. The upshot of this is is that they shouldn’t have made a found footage film in the first place.
There are other problems with this choice of film style. We don’t get to know the main character until well over halfway through the story because he’s the one with the camera. What madness is this? The only thing we know about him is that he’s annoying the rest of the troop by recording them all. Nothing new there then. Also whenever the monsters rear their weird metal heads the film descends into lots of running around corridors shooting at beasties. It feels like you’re watching a first person shoot em up. It should be involving but as we barely know the characters we are left feeling remote from the action. It’s a shame because the actors give it their all, it’s just we’re given snippets of them. There’s the loose-cannon/violent soldier, the man who wants to be home with his wife and kids, the young innocent; etc etc. the usual cliches.
However we do have those glorious monsters and what mayhem they cause with all their drilling, sawing and head crushing – there’s a particularly hilarious gag involving a helmet and a brain. And you know what, despite its problems with script and shooting style I think we should forgive the film its obvious flaws, because those crazy creatures are bloody brilliant.