Frankenstein’s Army (2013)
Directed by Richard Raaphorst
I love a director with a vision and who uses all his creativity to get that vision to the screen. The ‘monsters’ in Frankenstein’s Army are marvelous creations in concept and portray a unique vision of industrial bio-mechanics. In one scene a creature attacks, but instead of a human head, the creature has a prop-engine with blades spinning at high speed. Not only was I impressed with Richard Raaphorst’s imagination to envision this, but I was impressed with the small special-FX team that brought this to life without CGI. This is one of about a dozen man-monsters (referred to as Zombots) featured in Frankenstein’s Army.
The movie is a found footage film (what the crew from the Netherlands calls 1st person POV) under the pretext of a camera man recording a wartime film for the Russian Army. It is near the end of WWII and the Russian troops are making advances into German occupied territories. They come upon a desolate town and an old mining factory. When they investigate this factory, they are hunted and slaughtered by the horrors of Frankenstein’s Army. The acting is good, especially Karel Roden, who plays Viktor Frankenstein (grandson to the original), who seems to have inherited the mad-genius gene from his grandfather. FF films never leave much room for character development so aside from Viktor we only learn of one other character’s motivations. However, that doesn’t stop this film from feeling like a good old fashion monster movie. Laced with political satire and irony, the film takes the horrors of war one step further.
I don’t always watch the special features of movies, even ones that I like, but I watched the making-of immediately following the movie. It was amazing to see the ingenuity that brought the Zombots to life. While other filmmakers tend to use the FF/POV style as a crutch or to save money on filming, Raaphorst explains why he wanted to film this first person and the difficulties of capturing a special effects heavy film in this style. Many of the shots had to be completed in one take with multiple effects timed and choreographed just right. The making-of also went to the abandoned factory in the Czech Republic where the film was shot as the director explained how he used items on site for the film.
Starting with detailed drawings of his monster designs, Raaphorst took these ideas from concept to finished product on a small budget. This film shows he may be a visionary as unique as Tim Burton, Brian Yuzna, or David Cronenberg. I look forward to future films by Raaphorst and his team; I think they really put something special on the screen. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie!
Recommended if you like: Dog Soldiers, Society, From Beyond, Monster movies, Nazi zombie films, etc.