Blackenstein/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Blackenstein

Dr Stein (John Hart) has been working on special super medicines to help genetics research. In particular his efforts in reversing age and restoring life to people who have lost body parts. When an old student of his named Dr Winnifred Walker (Ivory Stone) comes to see him one day, she explains that she wants to get some help for her boyfriend Eddie (Joe DeStone) who lost his arms and legs in Vietnam. Eddie now lives in a Veteran's hospital and is depressed and almost catatonic (is that just the acting or in the story?). Dr Stein agrees to help Eddie and after visiting him at the hospital, Dr Stein explains just what he plans on doing.

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When Winnifred and Dr Stein bring Eddie back to the "castle" where the research room is set up in the basement (which features the original Frankenstein's equipment) Dr Stein introduces Winnifred to his other patients. One is 90 year old woman who he's been giving injections of a special age reducing serum. The woman now looks 30 years younger. His other patient is a man who lost his legs and now has a new ones, but for some reason one of them has stripes on it like a tiger. Dr Stein explains its the result of some strange ingredient in the original serum that he's fixed.

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Meanwhile, Dr Stein's assistant/butler Malcombe (Roosevelt Jackson) has fallen in love with Winifred and one night he tells her this. Winifred politely turns him down and explains she loves Eddie but still wants to be friends. Well, Malcombe is angered by this. He is so enraged, he calmly goes to the basement lab (up to this point he has basically just stared at people in shots) and makes a plan to get rid of Eddie. He takes all sorts of chemicals and mixes them together for Eddie's next injection. The doctor unknowingly injects Eddie (who now has all his limbs and is recovering nicely) with the wacky serum that Malcombe has given to him and thats the end of that. Eddie begins changing into a monster and the first sign is the appearance of a large protruding forehead. After finding out something is seriously wrong with Eddie, Dr Stein and Winifred "move" Eddie to the basement dungeon type room. Eddie becomes the huge monstrous BLACKENSTEIN and starts his rampage of walking around the area killing people, then going back to his room. That's the whole movie.

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This film is basicaly a very bad attempt at trying to cash in on the Blaxploitation horror subgenre hits like Blacula and Abby which were popular at the time. Only William Levy's vision really doesn't add anything special to the story. The film is Eddie becoming a "Blackenstein" monster and then him stalking around town as slow as a turtle (with noone noticing him) until he actually strikes. We are supposed to believe that his victims are so dumb and so slow even while they are 100X faster than him, they still cant get away? The Blackenstein monster has all the quickness of an old steam roller.

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I'm a big fan of the Blaxploitation genre and I've seen several of the subgenres (horror, revenge, gangster etc) made as part of the craze, but this film isn't anywhere near as good as a film like Blacula. It's got a few gory scenes, but is tedious to the point of putting you to sleep. The cinematography is some of the worst I've ever seen in a film. It's way too dark and is just hard to watch. The acting is also very amateurish and laughable. You can almost hear the director saying "Cut" in between each exchange of the actors. The highlight acting performance in the film for me, was when the crazy loudmouthed hospital nurse (Bob Brophy) actually tries to inject some kind of wacky emotional drama with his story about how he got rejected from joining the Army because of his "heart murmur". Hilarious stuff.

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Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.
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