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“Frank & Zed” Is A One Of A Kind Puppet Horror Film

I love when puppets are naughty. Ironically, I’m also a huge fan of the Muppets, who are somewhat more wholesome, but the concept has always thrilled me. As one of the few who enjoyed The Happytime Murders, I’m always down for a puppet engaging in some weird shenanigans. Now, we have Frank & Zed, a truly unique fantasy horror movie with puppets. A seven years in the making passion project, it’s utterly odd and incredibly gory, making for something you’ve almost certainly never seen before. Folks, if it sounds like something you’d be into, it’s one to truly be on the lookout for!

The film is a horror flick, all done with puppetry. The protagonists are a pair of reanimated corpses, the Frankenstein-like Frank, as well as the zombie Zed. They’re both dependent on each other for survival, with a symbiotic friendship ensuing in the ruins of a castle, relics of a battle that ravaged a village. Frank and Zed had very different lives while they were, you know…alive, but now they live a life of solitude, just going about their days. When a village stumbles into their world, things come alive, as it were. Namely, a power-hungry magistrate in the town, hoping to take advantage of the relative calm in the land, tricks a group of villagers into attacking the castle Frank and Zed reside in, hoping to fulfill an ancient prophecy known as the Orgy of Blood, they spring into action. Much carnage ensues, as well as a bit of emotional resonance, too. Jesse Blanchard writes and directs, with cinematography by Patrick Blevins, as well as a score from Michael Richard Plowman. Voice work here includes Sam A. Mowry, Steve Overton, Jason Ropp, and more.

Watching the puppets commit these acts of carnage is more fun than you might expect. It all is somewhat silly, yes, but the movie largely plays it straight. The commitment to following its arc as if it were a true horror outing really does give it some extra oomph. Plus, as much as the violence is out there, the bond between Frank & Zed hits home pretty well. Once you get to the end, it even feels a bit emotional, which might seem like a hard sell at the start. The tone is not what you normally get from puppets, but that’s part of what keeps this one fresh.

Frank & Zed is a true passion project for Jesse Blanchard, and it shows. Taking the better part of a decade to bring this film to life, it has a handcrafted approach that deserves a ton of credit. Now, the writing is a little uninspired, by comparison, but Blanchard directs this one with a ton of creativity. Giving the puppets X’s over their eyes when they die is a clever touch. Plus, the gore is really quite gnarly, regardless of the lack of humans involved. Creatively, this is almost singular in its approach and execution. Plus, getting audiences to care about the two puppets that give the flick its name is no small feat, but Blanchard pulls it off.

Now playing at Nightstream 2020, Frank & Zed won’t be for everyone, but if puppet horror, full of gore, is your thing, Blanchard has more than served up enough to satisfy. It’s a little long for the concept, but the execution is impressive. Anyone with some curiosity, as well as a strong stomach, would do well to look out for this one when it eventually gets released. To say the least, there’s nothing else out there even close to like it…

Be sure to check out Frank & Zed once it acquires distribution!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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