Frankenstein’s Army on DVD

Monday, 30 September 2013 00:00

Frankenstein's Army comes to DVDSet towards the end of World War II, “Frankenstein’s Army” features a small band of Russian soldiers on a reconnaissance mission in Eastern Germany. Expecting to encounter little more than harsh wintry conditions and the last remnants of the German resistance, the men are stunned when they unearth a secret facility producing freakish, undead killing machines. The creatures are the work of a descendent of the infamous Doctor Frankenstein.

Shot in Czechoslovakia by Dutch director Richard Raaphorst, this movie features some of the most astounding and hideous monster creations ever conceived. Designed primarily by Raaphorst himself with some excellent additional work by special effects crew Unreal, they are unquestionably the film’s main selling point. Imagine a steampunk combination of Big Daddy from the video game Bioshock, the squirming, fleshy beasts from “Silent Hill” and the mutants from “Hellraiser” and you will be somewhere in the ballpark.

The plot, such that it is, is little more than an extended, 18-rated episode of Doctor Who, wherein the dwindling military unit run up and down claustrophobic, dingy corridors trying to evade the insane Doctor’s monstrosities. Fortunately there is plenty of tension and atmosphere, punctuated by brief periods when the soldiers find somewhere to hole up, catch their breath and bicker.

One of the men is filming the expedition so the movie is shot from a first-person point of view not dissimilar to found-footage movies, albeit much more cohesive and linear. Fortunately the footage is not too erratic and the clarity is pretty good. If anything, it enhances the panic when the cameraman is being pursued in a dank basement, surrounded on all sides by grunting, undead, Nazi cyborgs with propellers for faces or scythes for arms.

Stand-out creatures include a bizarre spherical pot-on-legs that reminded me of the cute trio of robots from “Silent Running”, a prototype woman’s head surgically attached to a small teddy bear’s body, and a waspish, bladed stilt-monster with a gas mask face and a long, deadly drill for a nose. The imagination at work is quite unbelievable (and more than a little disturbing!).

Whilst the film does occasionally betray its limited budget, the crew have worked wonders and crafted a memorable horror film that will hopefully spawn a whole new wave of creature-features. Recommended.

There is a solid making-of on the disc that covers all the usual bases such as location scouting, costume creation, post-production, interviews and behind the scenes clips. The primary setting of an old Czechoslovakian coal mine (now a museum) really does present the makers a golden goose that keeps on giving!

“Frankenstein’s Army” (2013) is out now on DVD courtesy of Entertainment One. The main feature has a running time of 81 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £12.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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