Directed by Ryan Bellgardt. Cast: Jordan Farris, Christian Bellgardt, John Ferguson, Rett Terrell, Raychelle McDonald, Eric Gesecus, Lucas Ross, Thomas Cunningham, Jami Harris, Shellie Sterling, Laurie Cummings, Donald Taylor, Christopher Robinson, Gary Olinghouse. 2015 109 minutes Not Rated (equivalent of an R for strong violence, gore, and for language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for TheFrightFile.com, September 1, 2015.
"Army of Frankensteins" is so exceedingly earnest that one almost feels guilty having to criticize it. Never funny when it tries to be but frequently laughable when it wants to be taken seriously, the film is an overlong, 109-minute hodgepodge of dopey plotting and insipid delivery. Done in by a shoestring budget that isn't able to do justice to the script's ambitious scope, writer-director Ryan Bellgardt inadvertently paints himself into a corner and ends up looking like a far worse filmmaker than he likely is. His time-jumping storyset primarily in 1865 during the Civil War and bookended by a present-day wraparoundcalls for lavish art direction, period-specific costumes, copious makeup work, and top-notch special effects. Lacking all of that, he turns to tacky fake mustaches from Party City and bargain-basement CGI that looks like graphics from a mid-'90s PC video game.
Alan Jones (Jordan Farris) is having a bad week. His landlord, the flirtatious Mrs. Henderson (Laurie Cummings), is threatening eviction if he doesn't pay his three-months-overdue rent. He recently lost his job at the grocery store where girlfriend Ashley (Jami Harris) works, and finds his ex-boss all over her just as he shows up to propose. Worse yet, he has to borrow five bucks from her to pay for milk. When he is abducted by mad scientist Dr. Tanner Finski (John Ferguson) and his helper/adopted son Igor (Christian Bellgardt), Alan becomes the latest subject of the doctor's experiments to reanimate Frankenstein's monster (or, as he is inaccurately called here, Frankenstein). When Alan inadvertently ruptures the multiverse and releases dozens of Frankenstein clones, he and Igor follow them through a portal that sends them smack dab in the middle of the Civil War. Seeking the help of Alan's great-great-great-great grandparents, soldier Solomon Jones (Rett Terrell) and nurse Virginia (Raychelle McDonald), they must destroy the dangerous creatures and repair the dimensional rift.
The tangent-heavy narrative of "Army of Frankensteins" includes all of the above, plus battles to end slavery and an attempt to circumvent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by shooter John Wilkes Booth (this latter stab at revisionist history includes Booth smacking First Lady Mary Todd's backside as she runs screaming from Ford's Theatre, so there's that). The actors, bless them, perform as if they are reading from cue cards they are seeing for the first time. Toss in Frankenstein's monster locking arms and dancing around a campfire and a soldier getting beat with his own decapitated arm, and what we have is an inept, lead-footed slice of ridiculousness that only earns laughter when it's not supposed to. The film succeeds tenfold, however, at prompting audible groans and Liz Lemon-style eyerolls.