One final horror movie review for the month. Frankenstein’s Army (2013) is an exciting if gruesome film that sets Soviet soldiers against Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson and a horror show of recycled Nazi soldiers (and anyone else who falls under the doctor’s knife).
The movie follows a reconnaissance team of Soviet soldiers in German territory. The film uses the found footage style, ostensibly filmed by a propagandist travelling with the unit. After some initial character building scenes, the team follows a suspicious distress call from another unit. There they find an abandoned compound filled with dismembered nuns and strange scattered wreckage. Eventually they realize they are not alone. Strange steam punk reanimated corpses infest the area. One by one, the monsters whittled down the team until only the core four remain: the propagandist, the steady headed Polish soldier, the ruthless hotheaded killer, and Sasha, the seemingly incompetent kid.
The propagandist is revealed to be leading the team on a secret mission to capture Frankenstein. Ultimately his comrades abandon him and he is captured by the doctor. Forced to film the madman’s work, he eventually sees the rest of his comrades trickle in to become future weapons. Just when all seems lost and Russian artillery is moving in to demolish the compound, the final twist occurs. In a nod to a potential sequel, the doctor claims all the secrets to creating these monsters are in his head. A surviving (and assumed dead) team member then shoots him and lops off his head to return to Moscow. One wonders if they don’t intend to attach it to a new body to continue the work like Vladimir Demikhov’s work on dogs.
Overall the film is great. The monsters mostly use practical effects which makes them seem a bit cheap but at least real. The film uses a lot of gore with many dismembered bodies decorating the later scenes. The acting for most of the cast is good which helps a lot. I think one could make a good one shot roleplaying game out of the premise, including the secret traitor(s) and conflicting agendas of the characters.
The film could have used more extras in the early combat scenes to sell that this is a war film. I don’t think you need a mass battle but signs that the cast is larger than a dozen men would really help.
I think the film is worth watching by any horror fan and particularly if you are looking to mine some ideas for a quasi-military horror game like Night’s Black Agents or Delta Green.