Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blackenstein (1973)

A movie whose appeal begins and ends at the title, Blackenstein should not be mistaken for as a companion piece to Blacula (1972), which is a sophisticated masterpiece compared to this low-budget clunker. Alternately titled The Black Frankenstein—for those too dim to translate the hipper one-word moniker—Blackenstein literally features an African-American dude wearing replicas of the makeup and outfit Boris Karloff wore in old Universal screamfests. Yes, the monster in Blackenstein has the abnormally high forehead, the head-to-toe black ensemble, the heavy boots, and even the zombified walking-and-grunting persona one associates with Karloff. Aside from the presence of an Afro instead of straight hair and dark skin instead of light skin, the monster in Blackenstein is a shameless and unimaginative rip-off. Oddly, however, the story of Blackenstein bears little resemblance to that of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein. In this flick, pretty young scientist Winifred Walker (Ivory Stone) enlists the help of her mentor, Dr. Stein (John Hart), after Winifred’s boyfriend, Eddie (Joe De Sue), loses limbs fighting in Vietnam. Dr. Stein uses specially formulated DNA to repair Eddie’s appendages, but Dr. Stein’s assistant—Malcolmb (Roosevelt Jackson)—tinkers with the formula because he wants Winifred for himself. Thus, Eddie becomes a monster, lumbering around Dr. Stein’s castle and the neighboring area for a nonsensical killing spree until the requisite showdown with his maker in a laboratory. Written and produced by Frank R. Saletri, Blackenstein is terrible on every level. The story is moronic, the editing is choppy, the music features moments of over the-top silliness (like the gigantic horror cue that accompanies a nothing scene of Winifred looking at a staircase), and the acting is excruciatingly bad. Oh, and the movie’s crude gore scenes were obviously achieved by throwing messy animal guts onto actors. Yuck. Worst of all, every satirical opportunity suggested by the title is completely missed. Whereas Blacula embraced its blackness to great effect, telling a story that sprawls from Africa to the inner city, Blackenstein lacks any distinctive flavor. In fact, the title probably should have been Blandenstein.

Blackenstein; SQUARE


Tommy Ross said...

Well, I guess that's THAT!

fakebaconimprov said...

Just watched this for the first time and have to agree, the music is completely out of control--from the lovely but mismatched opening theme, to the mostly (or all) seemingly lifted horror film music. But I must admit I enjoyed watching this movie!