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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Frankenstein's Army'

Dennis King Published: September 9, 2013

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Frankenstein’s Army”

Imagine what would have happened if the Nazis had enlisted the services of Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson to further their diabolical world domination madness. That’s the clever but clumsy premise of the gizmo-dominated horror movie “Frankenstein’s Army” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

This ambitious wartime fantasy is the first feature of veteran storyboard artist Richard Raaphorst, and not surprisingly its strongest element is its visual depiction of the titular army of half-human, half- mechanical monsters created in a secret Nazi laboratory by the mad scientist Viktor Frankenstein (Karel Roden of “Hellboy” fame) at the behest of a desperate Hitler.

Employing a rather tired and far-fetched “found footage” style of storytelling, the action begins near the end of World War II, when a Russian battalion stumbles onto a secret lab in a small German village. It was there that Frankenstein’s loony grandson Viktor engaged in bizarre experiments to stitch fragments of human corpses together with mechanical parts and create a generation of deadly super-soldiers (creatures with machetes for hands or death-dealing drill bits for faces).

Discounting the fact that the found footage that much of the story relies on is far more technically advanced than the times allowed, the plot plays out as pretty standard monster movie mayhem, with the slightly befuddled Russians doing battle with all manner of art-designed creatures. With some pretty innovative costumes and creature designs and a few darkly comic twists on old war-movie tropes, the movie offers up some gory and mildly amusing images without breaking any new ground in the storytelling department.

“Frankenstein’s Army” is rated R (for bloody violence, grisly images and language) and runs 84 minutes. It’s being released by Dark Sky Films.

- Dennis King