Horror movie lovers seeking something truly unique, as well as puppet fans with an edgy side, will find plenty to enjoy in the all-puppet terror tale Frank & Zed. Lovingly brought to cinematic life by writer/director Jesse Blanchard — the film took six years to make — Frank & Zed serves up gore galore, dark humor, and a feast for the eyes.
Frank — who, you might guess, resembles Frankenstein’s monster — and zombie-like Zed are the former servants of an evil entity that once brought fear and destruction to the land in which the film is set. A king made a pact with that god of death to spare his kingdom and subjects, with the catch being that once the royal lineage dies out, the kingdom’s subject will be massacred in “an orgy of blood.”
For countless years, Frank and Zed existed peacefully, with daily routines of battery charging using lightning and plenty of brain munching. Once some conspirators seek to usurp the throne despite the promise of said blood orgy, the titular characters are set up as scapegoats to be hunted down by the unknowing villagers.
Blanchard has crafted a gorgeous looking film, with stunning scenery and jaw-dropping puppetry. The story may not be the most original, but whatever may lack in that department is more than made up for with the artistry that Blanchard and his crew bring to the film. As beautiful as some shots such as the forest surrounding the village are, the scenes involving Frank and Zed’s bodies falling apart, brain eating, and set pieces involving bodily carnage are impressively gruesome. There are more beheadings, death blows, and other acts of violence here than in the average fright-fare offering thanks to budgetary wizardry using puppets instead of people.
With elements of dark fantasy and offbeat humor to go along with its fear-fare elements, Frank & Zed is a labor of love that serves up a masterful display of puppet-fueled filmmaking.
Frank & Zed screens as part of the 18th Calgary Underground Film Festival, which runs online from April 23–May 2, 2021. For more information, visit https://www.calgaryundergroundfilm.org/.
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