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[Fantasia 2021] Sympathy for the Devil in Frank & Zed

Frank & Zed (2020) - IMDbFantasia Film Festival 2021
Available to view on demand

Just when I thought The Barbarian and the Troll was hilarious, there’s a fantasy horror movie that takes gonzo to a whole new level. Frank and Zed is all about the let’s puke out the gore first and offer a Faustian story second. It’s a movie where the big climax will leave some viewers wanting to catch her breath. 

Here, the focus is on two walking dead. Frank is a flesh golem needing a lot of power requirements. He’s basically a Frankenstein’s monster and all he does is go hunting for rodents and feed his zombie pal, Zed, their brains. This ghoul returns the favour by operating the generator to recharge the giant. They live in relative peace.

Meanwhile, a nearby village is up in arms. Everyone is fretting over whether a particular contract made by the king to save their land is overdue. This lord summoned another force to prevent a demon from destroying his fiefdom. His son isn’t a lot of help, and all the dread everyone is feeling cumulates to the aforementioned lackeys getting caught up in the coming chaos.

This debut feature film by Jesse Blanchard and his studio Puppetcore is just simply a wonked out pleasure cruise for gorehounds who love just that. His team of effects, prosthetic and makeup artists come up with many ways to tear apart a muppet and make it gosh darn gushingly funny because of the heavy attention to detail. Instead of fluff, we see bones and foam rubber tissue. This crew turned traditional puppet theatre to splatter theatre, and they spare no expense in letting the blood flow. All this over the top massacre is the orgy of destruction to which the villagers fear. It makes the moments of Zed eating brain look tame in comparison.

This team of puppeteers were merciless in all their ideas on how to let the fountains of blood truly spray. They filmed more than what was needed. When it came time to edit, I’m willing to bet nobody wanted to mutilate the footage because everyone didn’t want anything lost to the cutting room floor. They were like kids in a candy store having fun stuffing firecrackers up the butts of their sibling’s dolls and they were encouraged to continue.

The humanoids are essentially muppets a la Fraggle Rock (or The Muppet Show). Their look is no different from what one would expect from the Nickelodeon show. The humans aren’t really the stars when considering anyone really wanting to see this film are here to see that orgy of blood delivered.

If Evil Dead II had a spiritual prequel, I’d say this film is it. The mythos can be reworked enough so that Blanchard’s film is essentially about other Deadites attempting to invade the world. Otherwise, the liberal craziness and insane destruction is similar. Although we don’t have a saviour to close off this film, we can at least relish in the fact our favourite non heroes and their bond somehow survive the carnage.

4 Bones out of 5

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