The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

BLACKENSTEIN (1973) ** ½

Blacula made a buck or two so this was churned out fast and on the cheap.  It’s mildly amusing and features some pretty good gore, but even at 87 minutes its way too long.  The opening titles give us some clue of the ineptness that lay in store.  After the word “Blackenstein” appears a helpful subtitle “The Black Frankenstein” pops up just in case you weren’t aware this was a blaxploitation version of Frankenstein.  

The story has a young black soldier (John De Sue) coming home from Vietnam a pair of arms and legs short.  His concerned fiancée (Ivory Stone) who just so happens to be buddies with a brilliant Nobel Prize winning scientist named Dr. Stein (STEIN!  GET IT!) who uses DNA injections to graft new arms and legs onto his body.  Of course his assistant has a crush on Stone and when she spurns him he screws up the operation which turns De Sue into a hulking monster with a large cranium and a flattop afro!  He goes out on the town and kills a racist orderly and rips the guts out of Liz Renay and a few other women.  In the end a pack of dogs rips him apart limb from limb and chew his guts out.  

The grade Z acting takes a back seat to some glaring continuity errors that would make even Ed Wood blush.  Consider the scene where the ARMLESS and LEGLESS De Sue is seen on a gurney with his arms and legs in plain view!  While most of the time it’s pretty entertaining and features a great soundtrack of old library music and well timed heartbeats, what really undoes the movie is the atrocious editing.  The scene in which the monster sneaks out of the lab is repeated over and over and the camera lingers on each and every step.  Also we get to see a nightclub act filmed almost entirely in its entirety (thankfully there’s no two drink minimum).  There’s even a scene in which someone is shown slowly falling asleep and I was half tempted to join her.  The nonexistent editing aside, the makeup is especially fun and the usual mad scientist shtick will please most indiscriminate fans of Frankenstein flicks.  

For all it’s inconsistencies at least it’s one of the first films to ever use DNA as a plot device.  They also use Kenneth Strickfaden’s old Frankenstein equipment which he would later lend to Mel Brooks for Young Frankenstein the next year.  That same year would also find Renay turning up in John Waters’ Desperate Living.   

AKA:  The Black Frankenstein.  AKA:  Return of Blackenstein.

Tags: b, blaxploitation, frankenstein, horror

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