“War is Hell. This place is worse.”
I often find myself writing about bad trailers and apologizing for them because I enjoy the subject matter, or speaking condescendingly to decent trailers for films I have no interest in. And then we have the completely bonkers films that seem to asexually develop in cauldrons over in left field before bubbling out over into the sub-mainstream. These are the films that I wait an entire year for.
The most recent example of this cinematic subsection is Dutch director Richard Raaphorst’s gore-tastic horror film Frankenstein’s Army, and it starts witb the screenplay, which was conceived by Raaphorst and screenwriter Miguel Tejada-Flores, who wrote for the films Screamers, Revenge of the Nerds, and Beyond Re-Animator, where Raaphorst was a conceptual artist. (Tejada-Flores later finalized the script with Chris W. Mitchell.) There is no real track record to follow for anyone involved, but I’ll happily go careening off of the tracks when a movie goes for broke like this one does.
Despite the Frankenstein in the title, this film definitely has some Hellraiser influences, and taps into the found footage sub-genre, though it appears realism is being dropped for stylization, which will hopefully allow the narrative to let loose and unleash the madness. And while that narrative may appear slight, it doesn’t have to do much to rise above the swill that indie horror perpetuates at times. And Frankenstein’s Army looks like it will stomp several dozen mudholes through the norm.
In 1945, near the end of World War II, a group of Russian soldiers are wandering the enemy’s countryside, as part of a small documentary being made to celebrate the victory over Hitler’s massive army. Unfortunately, those soldiers end up stumbling upon the secret laboratory of a brilliantly mad scientist named Victor, played by Hellboy’s Karel Roden. Victor and his band of Nazi subjects have been busy with experiments that are advancing the German soldiers beyond just being human, and moving onto something along the lines of “rudimentary murderous robot.” There’s a monster here that can safely be called “Propeller Head” and you’d know who I was talking about.
The somewhat strange twist here is that Victor allows the documentary to film him as he discusses his work. And Roden is fucking amazing in what little time we see him. And if he isn’t that unhinged for the whole film, this is a good example of how any visual medium can make someone appear to be something he or she isn’t. You’re only a bug-eyed claw-handed man on the inside. Let’s take a look at a couple of those ghoulish beings below.
The film follows a stream of undead Nazi films like Iron Sky and Dead Snow, but even Iron Sky looks tame in comparison to this hysteria. And honestly, the film’s first trailer gibes much better with the dubsteppy music, and plays up the shock value even more, somehow. Check it out below, and mark your calendars for July 26, when Frankenstein’s Army gets its limited theatrical run and VOD release, which is definitely how I’ll be watching. It seems like the kind of movie you drink a Bloody Mary and eat a raw steak with.