North American DVD cover
|Directed by||Richard Raaphorst|
|Music by||Reyn Ouwehand|
|Distributed by||MPI Media Group|
Frankenstein's Army, also known as Army of Frankenstein in the Netherlands, is a 2013 Dutch-American-Czech found-footage horror film directed by Richard Raaphorst, written by Chris M. Mitchell and Miguel Tejada-Flores, and starring Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse and Robert Gwilym. In the film, Soviet troops invading Germany encounter undead mechanical soldiers created by a mad scientist descended from Victor Frankenstein.
During the final stages of World War II, a Soviet reconnaissance party receives a distress call that would lead them further into Germany. The message seems to repeat without any response to their queries, and at the same time that they begin to receive the message, they lose radio contact with their command. Although the others are dubious about the existence of other Soviet forces in the area, their commander Novikov orders them to investigate. Dmitri, a Soviet propagandist who is filming the mission, interviews the soldiers and documents the proceedings.
As they draw closer to the designated coordinates, Dmitri takes an interest in and films several odd occurrences, such as unexplained dead Nazis, a burnt convent full of massacred nuns, and strange machinery. When the soldiers arrive at their destination, they find an abandoned church guarded by a 'zombot' - an undead with metal implants. The zombot kills Novikov and Sergei takes charge. The hotheaded Vassili challenges his authority, but the others back Sergei.
When a caretaker enters the church, Dmitri interrogates him, but Vassili becomes impatient and tortures the man for information. The caretaker leads them into a zombot trap and escapes. Overwhelmed, the surviving soldiers flee deeper into the catacombs, along the way encountering some Nazi survivors. In the midst of the carnage, Sergei discovers that Dmitri has deceived them: the distress call was just a ruse by Dmitri, who was also responsible for jamming their signal. Dmitri demands the others join him on his secret mission to capture or kill the Nazi scientist who created the zombots. Furious that they were deceived and led unprepared into this mission, they threaten to kill Dmitri, but he takes command after threatening their families with retribution. As Dmitri leads them deeper into the catacombs and they encounter increasingly bizarre aberrations, the troops mutiny and abandon Dmitri after throwing him down a chute.
Dmitri explores the main laboratory, only to be discovered and knocked unconscious by the zombots. When Dmitri wakes, he is a prisoner of the caretaker, who reveals himself to be Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, a descendent of the original Victor Frankenstein, who went rogue and turned against his Nazi masters. Dmitri attempts to recruit Frankenstein, who seems noncommittal about defection. Instead, Frankenstein proposes an experiment he says will end the war: fusing together the brains from the captured Sergei and a Nazi officer into one whole. Dmitri does nothing to save Sergei, who swears his revenge. When the composite being shows little sign of life, Frankenstein abandons it and moves on to experimenting on Dmitri. But the arriving Soviet main forces bomb the laboratory, and Sacha, the lone surviving member of the scout group, shoots Frankenstein dead. Sacha takes the camera from Dmitri and flees, just as the composite being made of Sergei's body comes to life and kills Dmitri.
- Karel Roden as Viktor Frankenstein
- Joshua Sasse as Sergei
- Robert Gwilym as Novikov
- Alexander Mercury as Dmitri
- Luke Newberry as Sacha
- Hon Ping Tang as Ivan
- Andrei Zayats as Vassili
- Mark Stevenson as Alexi
- Cristina Catalina as Eva
- Jan de Lukowicz as Fritz
- Zdenek Barinka as Hans
Stories of Frankenstein's monster disturbed director Richard Raaphorst as a child. When he was thinking of ideas for a monster film, he instantly went back to the Frankenstein mythology, which he extended to World War II. Raaphorst said he was drawn the idea of an army of Frankensteins in World War II specifically because the idea was "insane". The film originally began in 2004 as a project titled Worst Case Scenario.
Principal photography began in March 5, 2012 in the Czech Republic. Twitch Film reported that it finished filming on the week of March 30. Although the film used CGI, most of the effects were practical; for example, stuntmen were set on fire. The practical effects necessitated what Raaphorst described as long, complicated single takes. He said it was worth it in the end, though he experienced doubt during shooting when he became ill.
Frankenstein's Army premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on January 26, 2013. It was released in the United States on July 26, 2013. MPI Media Group and Dark Sky released it on home video on September 10, 2013.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 67% of 18 critics gave it a positive review; the average rating was 5.6/10. Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score, rated it 49 out of 100 based on nine reviews.
Scott Foundas of Variety wrote that the film is "short on plot and long on ingeniously gruesome creature designs and practical special effects that hark back to the industrious 1980s schlockfests churned out by the likes of Frank Henenlotter and Stuart Gordon." Foundas also compared the film's "junkyard chic" to the steampunk films of Shinya Tsukamoto. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film's monsters and gory special effects will appeal to horror fans, but it should have focused more on black humor and satire to appeal to broader midnight movie audiences. Andy Webster of The New York Times described the monsters as steampunk cyborgs and wrote, "Narrative depth may be in short supply, but the energy, invention and humor are bracing."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club rated it C− and called it "a ludicrous World War II horror flick bogged down by its found-footage gimmick" that only works near the end when the film plays up the "imaginatively grotesque monsters". Jason Jenkins of Dread Central rated it 3 out of 5 stars and called it "a fun, furious, goofy and gory good time" for forgiving horror fans. Lauren Taylor of Bloody Disgusting rated it 1.5 out of 5 stars and said that the visuals and effects did not make up for the lack of a plot and unnecessary "found footage" style. Bill Gibron of PopMatters called it an "an amazing steampunk splatter fest" whose visual imagery makes up for its narrative faults.
- "Q&A with Frankenstein's Army Director Richard Raaphorst". Daily Dead. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "Introducing the Creatures of Frankenstein's Army". IGN. 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- Foutch, Haleigh (2013-09-19). "Richard Raaphorst Talks FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY on Blu-ray, Directing His First Feature Film, Designing the Zombots, the Found Footage Format, and More". Collider.com. Retrieved 2015-07-05.
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- Vijn, Ard (2012-03-30). "Twitch Has Met FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY and Survived!". Twitch Film. Retrieved 2015-07-05.
- Miska, Brad (2012-12-17). "'Frankenstein's Army' To Premiere at 42nd International Film Festival". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- DeFore, John (2013-07-26). "Frankenstein's Army: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Miska, Brad (2013-08-07). "'Frankenstein's Army' Dated For Home Video and Jam-Packed With Extras". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "Frankenstein's Army (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "Frankenstein's Army". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Foundas, Scott (2013-07-17). "Review: 'Frankenstein's Army'". Variety. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Webster, Andy (2013-07-25). "Something Unpleasant Behind Enemy Lines". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (2013-07-25). "Frankenstein's Army". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Jenkins, Jason (2013-09-18). "Frankenstein's Army (Blu-ray / DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Taylor, Lauren (2013-09-03). "[Blu-ray Review] 'Frankenstein's Army' Is Mindless Madness". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Gibron, Bill (2013-09-06). "'Frankenstein's Army' (Blu-ray)". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
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