Frankenstein's Army (2013)

Starring: Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym, Alexander Mercury, Luke Newberry, Hon Ping Tang, Andrei Zayats, Mark Stevenson

Directed by: Richard Raaphorst

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Karel Roden as Viktor Frankenstein

What with the proliferation of glittering vampires and hot-blooded werewolves, vengeful ghosts and plagues of zombies wherever you look, it's about time that other classic horror character, Dr Frankenstein stepped back into the limelight. And now not only is his monster back in the laughable looking action horror I, Frankenstein, by the good/bad doctor himself makes a welcome return, doing what he does best: patching together an army of reanimated corpses, to fight the Nazi cause.

Lost behind enemy lines in Frankenstein's Army

Taking found footage to new levels, Frankenstein's Army is a shot (in colour – although the occasionally garish hues suggest it could have been tinted afterwards I suppose) by an earnest, slightly nerdy soldier in Stalin's army. Adrift behind enemy lines, the ragtag squadron are searching for missing comrades. At least they think they are. Instead they stumble into a deserted village and discover a terrible secret.

I was anticipating an Iron Sky-style Carry On Nazi horror romp (only better, I hoped). Instead, like the Russian soldiers, I got a lot more than I bargained for, because, while there are comic moments, on the whole Frankenstein's Army is a dark – even bleak – depiction of the horrors of war, more Enemy at the Gates than Churchill – the Hollywood Years. Which, as anyone who's read my review of the latter will know, can only be good thing.

And then there are the monsters...

One of the many monsters created by Dr Frankenstein

Ray Harryhausen-shaped Oscars to the monster designers and makers: they done good. The first creature we encounter is hideous, like the Pale Man of Pan's Labyrinth, a grisly, grey patchwork of decaying skin, held together with ugly, black stitches. But this is only the beginning: to come are a ghastly crew of dieselpunk cyborgs, part Dagon-like creature, part machine and a very small part dead human being, assembled from knives, guns, drills, saws, aeroplane parts, diving suits and something that looks suspiciously like Dusty Bin. Lumbering and haphazard they may be, but they certainly have the fear factor sewn up.

Okay, so there's not a great deal of plot and the characterisation is fairly simplistic, but that doesn't prevent Frankenstein's Army from being a thoroughly gripping ride into a seriously disturbed world. Imaginative, shocking and at times jaw-droppingly grim, it's Dog Soldiers meets Hellboy with shades of Metropolis. If Frankenstein's Army is on its way to a cinema or download service near you, it's time to enlist.

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