SiriusXM recently launched an Entertainment Weekly channel and every Monday there’s a show called “Entertainment Weirdly” where they talk about pop culture off the beaten path. So I have those folks to thank for turning me on to my selection for this month, Frankenstein’s Army. They had me at “zombie with an airplane propeller for a head.”
The story goes that a small group of Russian soldiers during WWII answer a distress call from their comrades and find themselves in a deserted German town…only of course, it’s not so deserted. Everyone there was either chased off, killed by, or turned into part of the titular “army.” A Nazi scientist has studied and improved upon the work of Viktor Frankenstein and can now use a generator to bring his monstrous creations to life. But these are not just zombies, they are (listed in the credits as) zom-bots. Reanimated corpses with knives for hands, drills for faces, and, yes, even one with a propeller for a head. (Love it).
This movie is a wildly entertaining good time as there seems to be no limit to the crazed imagination of the script writer. If I had to knock anything about it, it’s that it uses the done-to-death found footage technique which is extra distracting because it’s seemingly so anachronistic. But this is a film where the Russians speak to each other in English and get annoyed by Germans speaking German, so ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. Also…propeller for a head! Suspension of disbelief is cashed in at a premium for this film. But I loved it. Grade: A+
Next up was Dead Before Dawn, a zombie comedy about a hapless young college kid, who along with his friends, accidentally breaks the spooky old urn in his grandfather’s occult shop. Thinking the curse that comes with that is a goof, the friends rattle off a laundry list of bad things that should happen, not knowing that the evil spirits are taking notes. Later that night, all the things they said start happening, most prominently, everyone they make eye contact with spontaneously commits suicide and turns into a zombie. If the friends don’t work together to figure out how to undo the curse before dawn, the dire situation will become permanent.
It’s so refreshing to find a zombie comedy that’s actually funny and entertaining all the way through. DBD gets right a lot of the things that Detention of the Dead got wrong. Mainly, once the characters realize the stakes at play, they become terrified. The comedy is built around their appropriate reactions to the situation and there’s no “ha ha our friends are dead” bits that ruined the first half of Detention. Moreover, this film is simply my kind of humor. I feel like I could have been in the writer’s room and contributed to the script had I been asked. A lot of winking, nudging and meta commentary on the events taking place, such as when the characters realize they have been making eye contact with someone trying to help them, they complain “these rules are so complicated!” There’s even a reference to Nic Cage’s Wicker Man, which, come on, is just a joke that’s after my own heart. Any film that can make me laugh hysterically while someone is committing suicide is a winner in my book. Grade: A