Blackenstein [The Black Frankenstein] (1973)
AKA Black Frankenstein, Return of Blackenstein, Blackstein
Starring John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue, Roosevelt Jackson
Directed By William A. Levey
After the runaway success of Blacula, it was only a matter of time before other studios would attempt to cash in on the blaxploitation/horror sub-genre. The most obvious attempt was 1973’s Blackenstein, a movie that takes everything Blacula did right and throws it completely out the window.
When Vietnam Vet Eddie Turner (Joe De Sue) loses all of his limbs from a land mine, his fiancée Dr. Walker consults her old teacher, mad scientist Dr. Stein (John Hart) for help. Dr. Stein attempts to attach new limbs to Eddie, and all is going according to plan. But when his assistant, Malcomb professes his love for Dr. Walker and is rejected, he secretly switches the bottles of DNA solution out of spite. The unbalanced solution is injected into Eddie, mutating him into Blackenstein, a hideous (?) monster who escapes the laboratory every night, limping around Los Angeles like a 93-year-old woman, killing random strangers by ripping out their intestines.
Dr. Stein: My goodness you look wonderful! How long has it been?
Dr. Walker: Oh I guess about three years. Yes because I’ve had my PhD in physics now for about two years, and I’ve never forgotten the year and a half I’ve spent studying under you.
The entire budget seems like it went towards Dr. Stein’s admittedly cool laboratory, which features all kinds of flashing lights, diodes, bubbling beakers, and arbitrary meters and gadgets. But if even a fraction of that went towards finding some credible actors, drama students even, the film would benefit greatly. Instead we have this poor guy playing Blackenstein who has such an extraordinary lack of acting skill that even three pounds of prosthetics and makeup can’t cover it up.
Also, you gotta love how the film’s title is displayed as Blackenstein: The Black Frankenstein as if that wasn’t obvious enough. Why stop there? You could have titled it Blackenstein: The Black Frankenstein: Who is Black.
Wow. I didn’t think it was humanly possible, but William A. Levey managed to create a blaxploitation film with no soul. It is borderline criminal for a film titled Blackenstein to be this boring. Don’t let your love for Blacula encourage you to even give this one a shot, this movie doesn’t even have any of the redeeming qualities that make most bad movies watchable.