Blackenstein (1972)

Article 3320 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-31-2010
Posting Date: 9-16-2010
Directed by William A. Levey
Featuring John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue
Country: USA
What it is: Really bad horror blaxploitation

A woman scientist’s boyfriend loses all his limbs in the Vietnam war. She encourages him to see her old instructor (and present employer), Dr. Stein, who is experimenting with DNA. However, a jealous assistant hoodwinks the treatment, turning the boyfriend into a homicidal monster.

There’s one decent performance in the movie, and there are some nice arty shots, but that about covers it for all the positive things I’ve found in this one. I’d heard this movie was bad, but even I was surprised at how bad it was in certain ways. I knew the monster’s makeup was ludicrous (I’d seen stills), so I wasn’t surprised by that. What surprised me was its other problems. For one, the movie is threadbare in so many departments; the script is barely there, the characters are almost all woefully underdeveloped, the pacing is turgid, the dialogue is awful, and the only good thing about the special effects (the use of Strickfadden’s lab machinery) is compromised by the fact that it looks utterly out of place in this context. The one good performance is from Bob Brophy, but he’s playing a character so hateful that you’re glad he only has two scenes. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this movie is how singularly unfunky it is; outside of the stand-up comedian (who was most likely making up his own dialogue), every black character in this movie could have been changed to a white character and not a single line of dialogue would have needed to change. The tagline for this movie was “To Stop This Mutha Takes One Bad Brutha” and it’s funkier than the whole movie. This one is just pathetic.


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