Usually when a film is described as “found footage”, it implies that there are already no survivors. If the movie (edited/perfectly lit/seamlessly-shot etc.) is “found”, it means that nobody else was around, otherwise it’d be “submitted for your consideration footage”. Sorry. It’s late. I only just realised that this was the main reason I hate that sub-genre. This review is therefore “found thought farts”.
Though I actually like this movie so far. I’m sort-of liveblogging it while watching a DVR recording, because I’m tired. Frankenstein’s Army is, if you can believe it, a found-footage horror set in WW2 about a group of Soviet soldiers who stumble across a German-occupied church being used for Frankenstein-esque super-soldier experiments by the Nazis. Ugh, I’m so tired of this completely overdone story.
To me and the other average moron, the cast of this Dutch-American venture is relatively unknown, and I can tell that the movie would rather eschew pre-gore character development and just wants to get right to it, so we get a snippet of character-revealing dialogue and a backstory or two, along with a clear statement of the mission – responding to a distress call in enemy territory.
After wandering for a wee bit, they happen across a seemingly abandoned church and find a sort of body connected to wires. It’s a wrinkly, slimy-looking thing, like if a dismembered penis ate one of those mushrooms from Super Mario Bros, fell onto a grater and developed enough sentience to perform some sort of weird interpretative dance for the soldiers upon awakening. And then it’s all fun and games until somebody gets disembowelled, and the church becomes a literal house of horrors, replete with an enormous, rather-impressively-designed zombie robot thing with scythe-like arms, a spider-stilted nightmare, a scuba-masked bastard with sharpened skis or something for arms, circular-saw-handed maniacs and other weird hell-things.
It soon becomes clear that this was a deliberate weapon initiative (“Only the Nazis would think of something like this, sewing dead people together, giving them knives for hands”). Things get a little more human when the group meet a quartet of German civilians who have been hiding. One of them’ s a trained medic, but she realises she’s a little out of her depth when she tries to examine one of the soldiers but, in pulling his helmet off (ACTUAL HELMET), she accidentally scalps him.
It’s then that we start to get a proper view of these deformed, psycho zombie robots (“zombots”, apparently). Our intrepid cameraman never seems to allow the camera to drop out of focus, which is quite a feat because if I saw a massive, elephant-sized, elephant-shaped zombie cyborg decorated with giant swastikas lunging towards me, I’d probably shit myself and hurl said camera as a weapon, meaning you’d need to find this footage from the bottom of some robot zombie nazi’s bumhole.
Naturally, there’s tension when Gestapo frankenterminators are trying to kill you. Even more tension when the camera is literally shaking alongside you. Even even more when we’re in a spooky, abandoned, dark old church with grimy, butcher hall imagery and colour palettes. So it becomes almost uncomfortably tense as we see some pretty vicious infighting amongst the group (the sole American character’s a woman-beating, child-mocking douche), so the rare, blacker-than-black moments of humour are certainly welcome.
Once the movie abandons any attempts at black humour and our cameraman is mercilessly chucked down a guillotine-type slip ‘n’ slide by his callous comrades, we start to feel really sorry for him. Especially when he wanders off on his own and happens across some even weirder shit (like going to that last room in the Mütter Museum). When he finally meets a descendant of the real Viktor Frankenstein, who has a dingy lab of zombot workers building other zombots, and is totally happy for our cameraman to film his insertion of half a Soviet brain next to half a Nazi brain into a new super-zombot, I was pretty much done with “WTF”ing at this movie and just went with it. Try not to laugh at the bleep-bleep-blooping semi-twerking giant 8-ball cauldron Nazi helper zombot, though. I dare you. His name is “Hans”. And for a helper he doesn’t do fuck-all.
At a little over 80 minutes, this one’s short, sweet and sadistic. Cartoonishly grotesque steampunk zombot designs (honestly the stuff of nightmares), are the highlight of this bizarre splatterfest. These things are so seemingly indestructible (how in the fuck do you shoot a 7 foot-tall bodybuilder type with a fucking FLAMETHROWER HELICOPTER BLADE SET FOR A FACE?), that the Scooby Doo-esque chases down long corridors quickly race the shit out of the breakneck pacing. This is like a Soviet German Dutch American haunted house come to life. And just imagine the cosplay! Actually…maybe not. Don’t imagine it. Go watch something nice instead. I’m still not quite sure what the fuck I just saw.