'Frankenstein's Army' is All About the Monsters


A "zombot' in action. Dark Sky Films

As a horror fan, I've always been partial to 1977's "Shockwaves," a shockingly effective bit of B-cinema that pitted a Florida yachting crew against waterlogged undead Nazi supermen. It has that cheap, 70s documentary feel to it as well as a jarring synth score and some truly creepy looking zombies.

Now it's 36 years later and Nazi zombies are officially a thing. At least seven films have followed in the wake of "Shockwaves" and it's frankly a bit heartbreaking to see this sub-genre achieve mainstream success in the video game world. Aside from the excellent "Dead Snow," I tend not to go out for much of this stuff, but how could I resist this year's addition to the pile?

"Frankenstein Army" doesn't make a lot of promises. Sure, it's a found-footage horror film about Soviet troops running afoul of Frankenstein's undead forces, but you know better than to look for historical accuracy. You know better than to expect great performances, intriguing characters or a tight plot. What the dubstep-laden trailer promises us is monsters, and I'm happy to say it delivers on that count.

Frankenstein's "zombots" wouldn't look out of place on a GWAR stage. They're all an amazing, heavy-metal horror blend of undead gore and diesel punk cybernetics. One of them runs around with a propeller head shredding its victims, while another stalks around on stilts and drills people through the face with its steel proboscis. It's that sort of picture, folks, so you should know up front if it's your cup of tea.

"Frankenstein's Army" ultimately comes off more like a commercial haunted house attraction rather than a horror movie -- and I say that as both a criticism and a compliment. As the movie took me through the twisted, monster-haunted world of Frankenstein's laboratories, I constantly drank in all the absurd details, awaited the next monster and felt as safe as any Halloween reveler walking through a plywood maze inside a local warehouse.

In its better sequences, the film's a lot of fun for the unabashed monster lover, but it's never really scary -- and it only engages the viewer insofar as it walks us through a number of grisly set pieces.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.