Fake found-footage ‘Frankenstein’s Army’ is only a bit monotonous

Karel Roden shows off one of his Nazi beasts in "Frankenstein's Army." Credit: MPI/Dark Sky Films
Karel Roden shows off one of his Nazi beasts in “Frankenstein’s Army.”
Credit: MPI/Dark Sky Films

‘Frankenstein’s Army’
Director: Richard Raphoorst
Stars: Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse
Rating: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

No one’s going to mistake the sights in the fake found footage film “Frankenstein’s Army” for actual found footage. Set amidst a Russian platoon pushing into the German front towards the end of WWII, it’s, for one thing, in English. And it’s in the wrong aspect ratio. (Old 16mm film, which this sort of mimics, is in a box shape, not formatted to fit your HD TV.) Apart from busting out some in-editing imperfections (scratches, the red that comes at the end of reels), the filmmakers did not care for strict verisimilitude. And so, in a sense, neither should you.

Luckily, there’s enough lurid distractions to, well, distract you. The film finds a motley crew happening upon a secret underground lair. There, they’re besieged by freaky (and not too convincing) steam-punk creations: Humanoids with giant metal claws; a dude with an overactive clamp on his face; cyborgs wielding swastikas. Eventually they discover the source (which is more or less spoiled by the title): Among the Nazis’ many horrific experimentations were evidently an attempt to create a legion of armed zombies from dead soldiers, using the journals of the real Dr. Frankenstein.

On one hand, like the Nazisploitation films of the ‘70s (such as “Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS”), this is tasteless: The Nazis underwent numerous, actual, sickening experimentations on its captives. Milking that for midnight movie fare, no matter how effective, will leave a gross taste in the mouth. On the other hand, this is effective, both as a what-happens-next thriller that keeps topping itself, and as a film with a definite goofy streak. Unlike the fellow mock-found footage opus “Troll Hunter,” which only periodically interrupts artless, boring footage to spy on giant, rampaging trolls, it’s quick to get to the lair, which is one of those cavernous places with endless secret hallways and rusty doors — a good place to get lost in. It vies for the thrills of “Aliens,” only here the Paul Reiser traitor is wielding the camera.

This is very much for the fanboys, and its endless scurrying about and dismemberments inevitably prove occasionally monotonous. But it delivers on a wide array of beasties. “Pacific Rim” is fine, but this has a better and more inventive array of monsters, most of them more silly than frightening, which only makes them scarier once they start tearing out someone’s guts. Sleazy Nazi genre films have made a comeback of late, with the likes of “Dead Snow” (zombies) and “Iron Sky” (sci-fi), but “Frankenstein’s Army” would (just barely) work even without the swastikas.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.