I’m pretty generous in my willingness to suspend disbelief. For example, I’ll buy that, in a last-ditch effort to win the war, Hitler collaborated with the great-grandson of Dr. Frankenstein to create an army of quasi-mechanical killers stitched together from the parts of dead soldiers. But that a platoon of Soviet soldiers, on found footage, would speak to each other in thickly accented English? Wha? Why would you present something as “real” when you’re going to fudge such a basic detail?
That aside, director Richard Raaphorst’s Frankenstein’s Army, which opened Friday, is a hoot for its inventively designed, del Toro-esque monsters. Well, all Nazis are monsters, but I mean the doctor’s monstrosities: the ones with a drill for a snout, sickles for hands, fan blades for a face; each looks built from real parts, not created on a computer. (Typical of the Nazis, they have robbed these men of their humanity.) The movie moves like a video game with relentless forward propulsion through different levels of Frankenstein’s lab, a crazy tour of a blood-soaked stone factory building guarded by amazing villains—a huge supply of horror baddies, like two dozen Freddy Kruegers—led by a crazy documentarian filmmaker searching for a Wizard of Oz-like madman. As the characters descend deeper into the building, they descend deeper into a nightmare. “Sewing dead people together. Giving them knives for hands. That’s insane,” one character says. “Or brilliant,” another says. “No, it’s insane,” the first says. But they’re both right.
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