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|Index||21 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 70's blaxploitation horror craze hits its entertainingly sleazy nadir with this supremely trashy flick that somehow manages to be oddly endearing in its very low-grade cheesiness. Noted scientist Dr. Stein (stolid John Hart) and perky assistant Dr. Winfred Walker (a winningly spunky portrayal by Ivory Stone) try to restore dismember Vietnam veteran Eddie Turner (an engagingly earnest performance by the hulking John De Sue) to his former self. Alas, smitten and jealous servant Malcomb (deliciously overplayed with deep-voiced hammy brio by Roosevelt Jackson) tampers with the serum, which turns Eddie into a grunting grotesque monster who breaks out to embark on the expected murderous rampage. Director William A. Levey, working from a shamelessly trashy, albeit too talky script by Frank R. Saletri, manages to produce a reasonable amount of brooding gloom-doom atmosphere (the Gothic castle main location is an eerie beaut) and totally cuts loose with oodles of tacky excessive gore in the second half with Eddie killing various hapless folks. The scenes showing Eddie tearing apart people are simply hilarious; the definite sidesplitting highlight occurs when our hideously malformed maniac disembowels a shrieking topless woman in an alley way. The legendary Liz Renay has a funny bit as a shrewish victim with a horrendously humongous beehive hairdo. Robert Caramico's grainy, but fairly polished cinematography boasts a few neat fades and dissolves. The lively ooga-booga score by Cardella Di Milo and Lou Frohman and several get-down groovy R&B songs on the soundtrack both hit the right-on funky spot. A real schlocky hoot.
Well the movie is silly now but you got to really understand that was 1973 and it was scary back then. even the original movies are not scary now . But they was back then. so come on now. if today they do a remake of blackenstien YES it would be scary now .THINK ABOUT IT.AND THE MOVIES THEY make now unless the music is really hard people are not that scared now. but on the real tip the movie was not all that bad for it,s time that it came out.the end of it was a bit silly. It did not have that hard core thunder to it . and really if it was a black movie why all the white women getting kill . you don,t see that many black women getting killed in the white movies . just asking OK don,t get it wrong . just something to think about.
* 1/2 (out of 4)
A black man has his arms and legs blown off in Vietnam but Dr. Stein puts him back together again using his DNA potion. However, a crazy assistant injects him with another potion, which turns him into a monster. Whenever you hear the title BLACKENSTEIN it's usually followed by "worst movie ever made" or something to that nature. In all honesty I was rather disappointed that the movie didn't live up to its bad reputation. Yes, it's a very bad movie but it's not nearly as bad as hundreds of other horror movies out there and I'd say if you're a fan of drive-in cheese from the 70s then you'll probably find yourself either smiling or laughing at this picture. Being blaxploitation, it's mostly dumb white people being killed by the monster but the stereotypes are rather hilarious. The monster looks very stupid but the death scenes are rather brutal, although the special effects are a joke. Considering how "poor" the movie is I was surprised at how much graphic violence they threw in but it's better than nothing. I would tell you how the monster dies at the end but you really need to see if for yourself as it's reason enough to check the film out.
A few of the 70s drive-in movies I've seen were a lot of fun. This one is not. I appreciate Xenon in bringing back the "blaxplo" heydays through their video releases, but man, why not leave that scratchy looking print on the shelf and make it stay forgotten? BLACKENSTEIN is downright awful in its dreadful glory. Not a whole lot can be said about the horror elements other than the removal of body parts. How about shoving down people to make them die? A lot of your fun goes to scenes of mad scientists playing with liquid formulas and having to sit through useless scrap footage. The way our stiff-looking creep in an afro walks around and spreads his arms defines the most horrendous acting performance I've ever seen. It's that bad! Naturally speaking, don't confuse this one with the much superior BLACULA. The two are not the same. Dreadful!
A rather abysmal, plodding Blaxplotation reworking of the Frankenstein myth - sort of - best describes this 70s offering. Probably trying to latch on to the success of Blacula(a rather good film), Blackenstein tells the story of a limbless Vietnam vet named Eddie returning only to be the guinea pig of a Nobel Peace prize winning doctor. Strange that he won the Peace prize for his work with DNA, but let's push logic aside for now. The director of this film sure did. It seems that Eddie's girl, winsome Winifred Walker, a doctor with a PH.D in physics once worked under the renowned Dr. Stein. She appeals for help with her man, but things go awry when manservant Malcomb tries to thwart the romance because he is in desperate love with Winnie. The result - a hulking limbful(OK, I don't think its a word either)"creature" wearing a black suit he inexplicably picked up somewhere in just his size and styling around with a square-cut afro emerges with a zest for killing and ripping entrails from the bodices of newly slain women. Although on the surface this might seem like grand entertainment, the director and cast do an amazing job of breathing as little life into this film as possible. The site of the good doctor's work is seemingly in a country estate, but later we hear from two policeman, not unlike members of the mob, that murders have been happening in the nearby vicinity. Nearby vicinity - a hospital, residential homes, and an ethnic night club are all in the vicinity as well as a power plant(?). Scenes are very hard to see as there is virtually no lighting of any real value. The music score is dreadful. Clanging and suspenseful chords can be heard when nothing happens. And just wait until you hear that ridiculous heartbeat! The actors are dreadful. None of them are very good. The guy playing Dr. Stein looks casually interested in his role. Roosevelt Jackson is interesting as Malcomb, but he is definitely no actor. The special effects consist of the old lab equipment of Kenneth Strickfaden that was used in the 30's Frankenstein films. It looks very out of place in a modern setting. The worst part of this film though is its relentless plodding from one uninteresting scene to another. Nothing really is ever explained, the victims and their slayings are awfully executed, and the ending - what was that all about? It definitely had gone to the dogs at that point! If you are looking for something akin to fun "trash" from that decade famous for just that, I think you will be greatly disappointed with Blackenstein.
I and my friends had a great time watching this collection of dismal performances, tacky set design, a confused patchwork script, and completely unjustified invocation of serious themes like Vietnam and racism in support of exploitationist trash. The things we couldn't figure out were little things like: why does a black female physics student do graduate work with a white male medical doctor? Why this same woman had one hairdo in the lab and a completely different one two seconds later outside of the lab? Why do the doctor and the woman have dinner by themselves at opposite ends of the world's biggest dining table with the world's biggest (and ugliest) centerpiece smack in the middle? Why does the movie just stop dead right in the middle to present a couple of nightclub acts, then just pick up again like nothing had happened? And why "Blackenstein" anyway? The story has nothing to do with the Frankenstein story or anything like it. If anything, it's closer to Jekyll and Hyde....well, kinda, sorta....well, not really.....
I knew going in this did not have much of a reputation but, frankly, I was not expecting the result to be of such an utterly amateurish quality either! Anyway, after the runaway success that the Blaxploitation take on "Dracula" i.e. BLACULA (1972) had been, it was inevitable that Frankenstein would also undergo a similar makeover pity they did not wait for a better script or, for that matter, a more talented crew of both technicians and performers before experimenting! Incidentally, the critique of the Vietnam War the monster here is a veteran rendered limbless by the conflict who receives new transplants but goes typically berserk falls flat on its face. However, neither is the make-up devised for it any better: after his cells are exchanged with those of another patient in white(!) Dr. Stein's laboratory by a zombie-like assistant who lusts after his girl, a former pupil of the doc's he gets an absurdly elongated and bulging forehead to go along with the recognized arms outstretched countenance and snarling! Though kept in a cell, this is conveniently left open for the creature to roam the streets freely and disembowel(!) any passer-by who happens to cross his path (but starting out with a hospital orderly who had abused him while still a cripple)! For what it is worth, the only scene that elicits a vaguely positive reaction is the irrelevant stand-up comedy routine revolving around a talking dog!
BLACKENSTEIN (1973) ½* John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe DeSue, Roosevelt
In this film directed by William A. Levey (Wham Bam Thank You Spaceman;
Skatetown, U.S.A.), "Dr. Stein" replaces the arms and legs of a black
Vietnam vet named Eddie, but something goes wrong and Eddie becomes a
murdering, rampaging monster. This low-budget mess is long on
gore, but short on plot. If you're interested in blaxploitation/horror
hybrids like this, check out the vastly superior "Blacula" instead.
This movies is absolutely awful. I truly feel like every copy of this movie should be destroyed to prevent additional people from wasting part of their lives on it. Trust me, this movie should not be viewed, even to laugh at how bad it is.
When her boyfriend Eddie Turner (Joe DeSue) returns from Vietnam
without arms and legs, Dr. Winnifred Walker (Ivory Stone) appeals to
former teacher and Nobel Prize-winning Dr. Stein (John Hart) for
help--and Dr. Stein, who has been fiddling with DNA, accomodates them
by growing some new arms and legs. Unfortunately, the experiment goes
awry, and Eddie suddenly develops a square afro, takes to wearing ankle
boots, and sneaks out at night... and one of his first victims is an
ugly white woman with a really bad hair-do and bad taste in pink
On the surface, BLACKENSTEIN would seem everything a cult-movie fan could ever wish. And it is true, there are about six "howlers" per minute in this film--actors who can't act, ridiculous dialogue, bad cinematography, awful special effects, extremely silly make-up, you name it, this flick has it. Trouble is, BLACKENSTEIN is also incredibly, unspeakably dull. In fact, it is so dull that after about ten minutes its dullness overpowers the giggle factor and you are left to sit in slack-jawed exhaustion.
The DVD release of this film offers nothing in the way of extras and the print is bad to boot--not that it makes any difference where this film is concerned. If you have to buy a gift for some you don't much like, this would be a perfect choice. Otherwise, steer clear.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon reviewer
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