Doctor Hackenstein (1988) Poster

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Son_of_Mansfield11 June 2003
This movie features an o.k. score and a not bad performance by David Muir as Dr. Hackenstein. The beginning and end credits show along with the most of the actors and the "special effects" that this is a low budget movie. There is nothing in this movie that you could not find in other mad scientist, horror/comedy, or low budget movies. Not special for any nude scene buffs or bad movie lovers either. This movie is simply here. Anne Ramsey and Phillis Diller are nothing to get excited about as well. If you are curious as I was and can actually find this, you will realize the truth of the one line summary.
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A mess
polysicsarebest28 January 2005
Take your basic Frankenstein flick, inject some Reanimator (but not the good parts), and you have Doctor Hackenstein. Certainly, this was obviously inspired by aforementioned films but it never materializes as anything special on its own.

A scientist accidentally kills his wife, so the whole movie takes place over the course of one night as he attempts to revive his wife. To revive his wife, he decides to chop off body parts from some women that have become stranded and, coincidentally, decide to stay the night at his place.

I can't really say the acting is bad, nor is the directing. Everything here is just way too standard. What little attempts there are at humor actually work (check out the scene when Hackenstein keeps hiding behind his deaf assistant because she would undoubtedly be very upset if she saw him clutching a woman and a needle), but that's hardly enough to recommend this film. The music is decent, what blood that's there is decent, and the cast looks quite good. And for half of the time, I was even entertained by this film. But I never felt like this was anything more than a time waster. Avoidable.

Try Frankenhooker instead.
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Middling 80s horror-comedy
udar5518 September 2010
Dr. Hackenstein (David Muir) is trying to resurrect his dead wife before her severed head totally decomposes. Unfortunately, the grave robbing couple he hired (Logan and Anne Ramsey, the latter from THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN) bring him male body parts. Hack gets a lucky break though when Melanie (Stacey Travis) and three of her cousins crash their car nearby. The doctor offers to let them stay, giving him the chance to pluck plenty of parts off their bodies.

It almost seems like destiny that I should see this movie. I gasped when the credits started with Vista Street Entertainment and shuddered in fear when I saw the "Executive Producer Jerry Feifer" credit. Yup, this is the first film from Feifer, who used this to get a foot in the industry to create the WITCHCRAFT films, a series of 13 movies of which I descended into hell to watch. Hell, the main location is even the familiar WITCHCRAFT house. Knowing my luck, I'll probably inherit it. Anyway, this is as polished as the first WITCHCRAFT and has the same video wipes. The acting is tons better with Muir and Travis being very capable leads. In addition to Anne Ramsey, you have Phyllis Diller pop up for one scene. Plus, you get some nudity (thankfully not from Ramsey or Diller) and semi-gory KNB effects work. Writer-director Richard Clark puts some effort into the 1912 setting. Unfortunately, he can't decide on a tone. Is it a comedy? Serious horror? Who knows? He gets points automatically deducted for including a "Dr. Hacken-steen?"/"No, it is it Hack-en-stiiiiiine" exchange. None of this is helped by an oppressively plucky score by Randy Miller, who also did the scores on WITCHCRAFT and WITCHERY.
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Dr. Hoax-enstein
Coventry17 December 2009
Apparently there's a very good reason why I never heard about "Dr. Hackenstein" before me and a couple of mates accidentally stumbled upon it and stupidly decided to give it a chance. That reason is: it sucks! It's a very pointless, dull, imbecilic and totally unmemorable horror comedy/parody. Actually, to be honest, I'm not even sure if this was meant as a comedy because sometimes the script takes itself quite seriously and tries really hard to be a really ambitious and original late 80's horror effort. In the year 1909, at the dawn of a new era in medical science according to the opening sequences, Dr. Elliot Hackenstein needs exactly three women – no more, no less – to refurbish his beloved wife whom he accidentally killed. She's only just a living head left now, but the stupid body snatchers only provide male cadavers. So when Dr. Hackenstein yells out "I need three female bodies to bring back my wife", his words aren't even cold and there just miraculously appear three young females (and one really annoying nerdy kid) with car trouble show up at his doorstep. Why doesn't that ever happen to me? "I need a bunch of sexy voluptuous women to fill up my empty harem!!!" … See, nothing! Anyway, the good Doctor sees his wish fulfilled, but unfortunately – for science that is – he develops sympathy for one of the three girls. "Dr. Hackenstein" is a lame film that tries to cash in on the success of "Re-Animator" and even blatantly steal some of the comical aspects of that classic, like a severed head talking one-liners. It's easy to see why this film is never mentioned anywhere, as it doesn't appeal to fans of neither the horror nor the comedy genre. The funniest character is undoubtedly the loud-speaking female grave robber Ruby; depicted by the anti-cherubic Anne Ramsey. 80's horror buffs will certainly remember her from Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend", where she played the nasty old hag neighbor who gets decapitated by a basketball. "Dr. Hackenstein" supposedly takes place in the early 1900's, but there are hardly any attempts to re-create the atmosphere of that era (except maybe for some automobiles). Dr. Hackenstein's laboratory is a quite clichéd 80's set piece, with all sorts of smoky cauldrons and test tubes full of fluorescent colors.
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"I can bring that inanimate hodge podge of parts back to life!". Surprisingly not as awful as I expected.
Paul Andrews13 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Dr. Hackenstein begins at the turn of last century, '1909 The dawn of modern medical science' to be exact. Dr. Eliot Hackenstein (David Muir) is in the early stages of his rejuvenation of living tissue experiments, Dr. Hackenstein manages to bring a skinned rat back to life which confirms he has succeeded in bringing the dead back to life... It's now 'Three years later' & Dean Slesinger (Micheal Ensign) is round the Doc's house for dinner. As Dean Slesinger & Dr. Hackenstein eat they talk about Hackenstien's experiments which Dean Slesinger has always been opposed to, Dr. Hackenstein shows Dean Slesinger his laboratory in his attic where he keeps the severed head of his wife Sheila (Sylvia Lee Baker) who died in an unfortunate 'accident' & can telepathically talk to him (Christy Botkin provides Sheila's voice apparently). Dr. Hackenstein also show's Dean Slesinger a skinned chicken running around in a cage & explains that with the process he has developed he will bring Sheila back to life. The Dean has some sort of seizure & apparently dies. Meanwhile sisters Wendy (Bambi Darro as Dyanne DiRossario) & Leslie Trilling (Catherine Davis Cox) plus their Brother Alex (John Alexis) & their cousin Melanie Victor (Stacey Travis) are driving along near Hackenstein's house when they crash, they seek shelter & assistance & arrive upon Hackenstein's doorstep. Dr. Hackenstein invites the four stranded travellers to stay for the night. Later on Dr. Hackenstein is visited by two grave-robbers, Xavier (Logan Ramsey) & Ruby Rhodes (Ann Ramsey) who deliver a male body when Hackenstein actually needs female parts for Sheila. Dr. Hackenstein being the genius that he is decides not to waste the opportunity of having three young beautiful specimens available & starts to 'borrow' the bits 'n' pieces he needs to complete Sheila...

Written & directed by Richard Clark I was pleasantly surprised by Dr. Hackenstein, I'll state right now that it ain't brilliant by any stretch of the imagination but for what it was I actually quite liked it. It moves at a reasonable pace even if it does tend to drag a little bit during it's middle as things settle down. The script tries to mix slapstick humour like a scene when Dr. Hackenstein is trying to restrain Melanie & she tries to gain the attention of his deaf housekeeper Yolanda Simpson (Catherine Cahn) by kicking out & Hackenstein keeping Melanie behind Yolanda's back who is seemingly oblivious to what's happening, with a touch of gore but I'd say Dr. Hackenstein is more of a comedy than horror in conception & feel throughout. There are some tacky puns & sexual innuendo as well which are always good for a laugh, Dr. Hackenstein to Wendy "would you like to see my instruments" as an example. I also thought the scene when Mrs Trilling (Phyllis Diller) reports her missing daughter's to the bemused detective Olin (William Schreiner) was a pretty amusing sequence going round in circle's talking about why he isn't looking for them even though he has only just been told, why the cell doesn't have a prisoner in it & that if he didn't find the cousin not to worry about it. None of it's flat laugh-out-loud but I must admit I found myself smiling on occasion & found the film as whole to be quietly amusing. There isn't a lot of on screen gore, a few severed limbs, Sheila's decapitated head, some medical stitching & those skinned animals which are definitely fake by the way. I liked the characters in Dr. Hackenstein too, which was surprise in itself. The acting isn't brilliant but to give everyone credit they put some effort into it, lots of exaggerated facial movements & some serious overacting means it's never dull, oh & the three birds in Dr. Hackenstein are fit if you know what I mean. Technically the film is OK as well, once again it ain't going to win any Oscars but I have to give the filmmakers at least some credit for trying to pull off a turn of the century period setting. It doesn't always work, the clothes are at odds with each other at times, the girls look like their from Victorian England while the guys look like their from a western. The house looks as if all the filmmakers did was remove any modern object from the room & stick a few candles in there! It comes across as a little bit on the cheap side but it really isn't a bad looking film at all considering. Could have done without the comedy music though. Overall I ended up enjoying Dr. Hackenstein much more than I thought I would, although that in itself isn't a recommendation. It's certainly is not the best comedy horror film ever made & it certainly is not the worst either. A watchable enough piece of harmless fun.
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better then I expected, still nothing special
movieman_kev8 February 2009
Two sisters, their perverted brother, and their cousin have car trouble. They then happen about the home of Dr. Hackenstein whom conveniently needs the body parts of three nubile young women to use in an experiment to bring his deceased lover back to life. He tells them that he'll help them get home in the morning, so they spend the night. Then the good doctor gets down to work in this low-budget horror-comedy.

I found this to be mildly amusing, nothing at all to actually go out of your way for (I stumbled across it on Netflix instant view & streamed it to the xbox 360), but better then I expected it to be for a Troma acquired film. Most of the humor doesn't work, but their are still some parts that caused me to smile. Plus the late, great Anne Ramsey has a small part and she was always a treat to watch.

Eye Candy: Bambi Darro & Sylvia Lee Baker got topless

My Grade: D+
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