Well, here we are. The home stretch. The last week of movies. The plan is, for this week, to give you a nice mix. I want to talk about sleazy horror (and modern sleaze throwbacks), I want to talk about a couple more classic horror movies, and look out for BOTH of my retrospectives (I hope…). I also plan on doing a couple of anthology films, because those are a lot of fun. I’m really going to try to get all of that in in this last week here.
Frankenstein’s Army (2013)
Lately I’ve been talking about horror with substance. I’ve been saying how horror with a story is great, and that modern horror movies only try to scare you and they don’t make an effort to tell a great, scary story.
Well, I’m here to tell you today that sometimes story isn’t quite so important. I know, I’ve been on my soapbox about that lately, but hear me out. Sometimes a horror movie will have nothing going for it. It has barely any semblance of a story and relies exclusively on gore or jump scares. And sometimes that works (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th) and sometimes it does not (Paranormal Activity – entire franchise, Saw franchise).
This is a movie that has almost no semblance of a story. The story barely exists, mostly only as a frame of reference for the insane imagery in the movie.
It’s about a group of Russian soldiers in World War II who go to find Russian POWs in a Nazi bunker. When they get there, they find horrible human-like creatures and most/all of them die. Everything dies basically. But so the secret is that the cameraman was actually commissioned by the Soviet government to find Dr. Frankenstein and recruit him and his experiments to the Soviet cause.
None of that really matters. All that matters is the monsters. They are these insane chimeras combining Nazi (and Soviet) soldiers with pieces of war-time machinery (blades, scythes, drills, propellers, a teddy bear, etc.) and they are awesome and disgusting. Seriously though that and the amazingly gross/creepy set design is really all there is to say about this movie. And that is what makes it so good. It’s just these horrible nightmarish Frankenstein man-machines. All of it is practical. I’m pretty sure there is no CGI at all in this movie. It’s so good.
My only real complaint about it is that they used the found-footage style. Now, I have said in the past that I have no problems with the idea of found footage. I think it is used pretty well in horror (it’s also grossly overused). My problem is that there is a time and a place for found footage. This was neither the time nor the place. First off, HD color video makes no sense at all in World War II. But beyond that, this movie’s set design and monster design is perfectly-suited for a gross, gory, grindhouse-type movie. Just sleazy violence and gore combined with incredible practical effects all wrapped up in a cheesy, horrifying death extravaganza.
But aside from that, I really liked Frankenstein’s Army. It’s on Netflix, and if you feel like sitting back, relaxing, and chuckling, then watch this movie. Beautiful production design and make-up/prosthetics. Good humor. Decent enough acting. And just enough story to keep you interested until the chaos begins.