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Film / Frankenstein's Army

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Frankenstein's Army is a 2013 found-footage horror film, concerning a documentary made by a squadron of Soviet soldiers in the tail end of World War II.

Dimitri is a Jewish-Russian soldier, sent into German territory to document the exploits of a reconnaissance battalion. After screwing around with the camera for a little bit, the squad gets a distress call from "Tiger-Bear 303", another recon unit investigating a mining village. The town is mysteriously empty; the only signs of inhabitation a big pile of dead nuns. As the group takes shelter in the church, they are attacked by a horde of... things, half man, half machine...

Not to be confused with Army of Frankensteins.


This film contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The official names of Frankenstein's zombie cyborg minions are given in the credits.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The "Burnt-Match Man," the first zombot the squad encounters, has no breasts but otherwise has a rather feminine figure and makes feminine sounds when awakened. Also, despite its official name, it's played by a woman.
  • And I Must Scream: There's a glass tank in the doctor's living room that contains a woman's head attached to a teddy bear body. Which is twitching and whimpering. No explanation is offered, but it's clear there's a very ugly story behind this particular product of Frankenstein's work.
    • Worse, it's given in the credits as the Doctor's own mother.
  • And Show It to You: Frankenstein hauls the Nazi officer in front of a full-length mirror before sawing his skull open, for no evident reason except this trope. He claims to have done something similar to his own father, as payback for attempting to have him institutionalized.
  • Artificial Zombie: The Frankenstein's Monsters in the village are actually horrific cyborgs. The trope is lampshaded and given a huge Take That!, as, according to Sergei: "Only the Nazis would think of this. Sewing dead people together and giving them knives for hands".
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  • Artistic License – History: Handheld 16mm cameras able to film with sync sound did not exist until the 1960s, long after this film is meant to take place, and the Bolex, which is the model actually seen in the film, certainly wasn't one of them. To say nothing of the fact that the film is in color (very unlikely for the time period) and in widescreen (virtually impossible).
  • Backwards R: The opening credits are done in this way.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Marching is heard and the Nazi flag is seen. The flag is soon trampled into a mudhole.
  • Berserk Button: Dr. Frankenstein becomes very upset when Dimitri asks him how his "automatons" receive orders. They're neither robots or "puppets", but people in their own fashion. "They even need to eat!" The ending calls this into question, since they go berserk (not that it's a long trip) once the doctor dies, as he said they would because they only obey him.
  • Bicep-Polishing Gesture / Flipping the Bird: Vassili gives a bras d'honneur to Dimitri early on in the film.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, grandson of the more famous doctor, who has been experimenting to make automatons for the Nazis but secretly has his own agenda.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The German officer in the handcart. While you hardly need to know German to catch on that "Nein!" is Big "NO!", those who do speak it can tell that he's begging not to be taken, asking for a Mercy Kill, and calling the zomborg that's pushing the cart an ass.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Nobody is particularly sympathetic. Dr. Frankenstein was being forced to experiment on humans by the Nazis, but once he had made enough monsters, he overpowered them and used their families in his experiments. The Soviets are ostensibly the most "heroic" of the bunch, but they do some pretty reprehensible things themselves, like pushing little Hans down a shaft to find out what's at the bottom. And the Nazis, what's left of them, are...well, Nazis.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Most of the monsters have meathooks, saws, or Jaws-of-Life for hands.
  • Body Horror: Oh yes. Agonizing cybernetics on several of the monsters, and Novikov is eviscerated by the saw-hand man. Not to mention Eva's disastrous attempt to help remove Ivan's helmet after it was crushed into his skull by Razor Teeth...
  • Camera Abuse: Splattered with mud, gore, and breaks a lens.
    • At one point, Dimitri falls into an open grave and knocks a bearing out of alignment. The audio is distorted and a rapid squeaking dominates the soundtrack.
  • Cannibal Larder: The basement of the church and a chilled room in the school.
  • Chicken Walker: Dmitri films one of these in a corner of the doctor's main lab, although it doesn't move and may not have been complete.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Frankenstein runs around with manic energy, is very easily distracted by new ideas and experiments, and most of his scientific ideas are completely outlandish and unworkable given a moment's consideration, such as his plan to reconcile the differences between the Soviets and Nazis by transplanting half a Nazi brain into a Soviet soldier.
  • Cold Sniper: Alexei, despite catching snowflakes with his tongue during the establishing shots.
  • Continuity Snarl: The title character is explicitly stated to be the grandson of the Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, but the novel in question took place in the 1700s, making him far too young to not have at least several "Greats" before "Grandson." Possibly he's the grandson of the Frankenstein from the 1931 film, in which the era is more ambiguous.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: The "propellerhead" zombie's schtick.
  • Diesel Punk: Given the World War II setting, it's appropriate that the cyborg zombies look like misfit Big Daddies.
  • Distress Call: The Soviets respond to a radio transmission from "Tiger-Bear 303", determined to extricate their hard-pressed comrades. Subverted when the signal is revealed to be coming from Dmitri's backpack, as he's been ordered to lead the squad to Frankenstein's lab so he can retrieve the mad doctor's secrets.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Doctor Frankenstein was sent to a concentration camp near the village. However, when the Nazis learned of his experiments, they forced him to work with human subjects instead of the animals he had been using previously. Once he's made enough "zombots" to overpower his captors, he uses the Nazi soldiers and their families in his experiments.
  • Fan Disservice: There are two instances of nudity in the whole film. A bare breast on a dead, vivisected nun, piled in a heap with the rest of the convent, and the Burnt Match Man, a naked cyborg with a saw for an arm.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: A bunch of them, actually; see "artificial zombie" above.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The squad finds a strange skeleton tangled in an electric fence. The skeleton has several metal gubbins on it, and an animal skull for a head.
    • On the road to the village, a dead German soldier is found. He's got a mechanical hand and a bolt stuck in his chin. Despite being dead for long enough for leaf mould to accumulate on his uniform, he still twitches violently and screams when manhandled too much.
    • The village graveyard is dug up, with the bodies missing from the coffins.
  • Generation Xerox: This Dr. Victor Frankenstein is the grandson of the famous one from Switzerland.
  • Guns in Church: The first fight with the monsters is in the convent.
  • Human Resources: The body parts that aren't made into cyborgs are made into eintopf to feed them with.
  • I Have Your Wife: Dimitri is forced to try to capture the Doctor, because his parents are captives of his state superiors. Likewise, he has the names of all the squad members' families in case they don't cooperate.
  • Ironic Echo: Dimitri promises a "Hero of the Soviet Union" medal to Seryosha. At the very end, Sascha promises Dimitri the same for distracting the monsters while he escapes with the Doctor's severed head.
  • Karmic Death: Vassili, the sociopathic Hate Sink, ends up as spare parts for the Doctor's experiments.
  • The Mole: Our main character and cameraman Dimitri is actually a(n unwilling) spy for the Politiburo.
  • Nail 'Em: Ivan gets his helmet bolted to his skull.
  • Naked on Arrival: The first cyborg the Squad discovers is a naked man with a saw arm.
  • Nightmare Face: None of the cyborgs have pretty faces. Some might mitigate this by having a helmet or otherwise artificial head.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: There's talk of taking a sniper blind early in the film. We don't get to see them destroy it.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: These are crudely-made automatons with various mechanical parts attached to their bodies, that exist entirely to serve their master. When said master dies, they go utterly berserk until they're put down.
  • Pet the Dog: During the "Messing around with the camera" scene, Vassili and Ivan give an elderly German evacuee an entire bar of chocolate. She's absolutely ecstatic.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Some of the monsters made look like they may have been children. Hans, the poor German kid who gets mulched by the propeller-headed zombot, briefly reappears as a "zompod", with his intact legs attached to some sort of metal barrel.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: Several zombies have saws for hands.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only obviously female zombie is the Nurse.
  • The Sociopath: Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, who took his father's offhanded comments about human efficiency far too literally and decided to make all of humanity into crude automatons that serve only him. When his dad tried to have him committed as a child, he murdered him without question, and eventually started working for Nazi Germany despite being Jewish himself. That said, he has no true loyalty to the Nazi cause, and ends up using them in his experiments as well.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Vassili. He cuts off an old man's fingers during an interrogation, beats people up for no good reason, and is more or less the movie's Hate Sink until the monsters show up.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: The airplane zombie deflects every bullet fired at it with its Deadly Rotary Fan. It's defeated by cutting its fuel line, in fact.
  • Spoiler Title: The title basically gives away that the Doctor Dimitri is forced into capturing is Frankenstein.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Tramp leads the squad into a trap and vanishes without a trace. It's hard to blame him though, considering Vassili cut his finger off.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Happens to everyone near the end of the movie, except the doctor and Sascha.
  • Subtitles Are Superfluous: The Google Play version has absolutely awful subtitles. An entire conversation is missed and saws are said to be "drilling".
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe, Frankenstein states that while his grandfather had to wait around for a thunderstorm, he can just use a generator instead.
  • This Is a Drill: One zombie is (or rather, was) an SS shocktrooper with a power drill stuck in his nose, which gives him a mosquito-like face.
  • Unwilling Roboticization: The Nazi garrison, Ivan and Sergei.
  • Villain Protagonist: Dmitri, a Soviet spy who misled his fellow soldiers into capturing a Nazi Mad Scientist that his bosses want captured alive, and is willing to threaten their loved ones to keep them compliant. Even when he learns about the scientist's human experimentation, he's perfectly happy to let him do such unabated to get the data.
  • Visual Pun: a Russian cyborg has his hands replaced with a hammer and a sickle.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: During one of the first gunfights with the monsters, it sounds like someone fires a single shot from a laser gun, specifically something out of Star Wars.
  • Walking Tank: One cyborg is a big, turtleish machine with a Panzerschrek Arm Cannon.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent??: The entire cast have trouble maintaining their Russian Accents. 1/3rd of the time they sound vaguely Russian, 1/3rd it's a cross between Russian and British English and the remainder inexplicably they gain American accents. Most unusual as, in a rarity for movies involving Russians, this movie has actual Russians playing Russians and none of the cast nor the characters are American.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: The Tramp whom the Russians capture and interrogate is actually Frankenstein himself, playing innocent until he can slip away.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The Mace Face, Nurse, and Drill Nose zombies feature prominently on one cover, despite only appearing once or twice (and Mace is a Non-Action Guy).
    • Drill Nose gets an entire alternate cover to itself.
  • What Could Have Been: In-Universe. At the Doctor's house, Dimitri sees a mockup of the Mini-Mecha the Nazis wanted pilots hardwired into. However, it wears American colors-white and olive, which, along with his refusal to join the Soviets, implies that the Doctor is planning to defect to the U.S.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The "Zompod" cyborg used to be a boy named Hans, who got chopped in half by the Propellerhead Zombie because the "heroes" pushed him down a processing chute to see what's down it at the same time the monster was climbing up.