Blackenstein (1973)

Title

Directed by William Levey

Written by Frank R. Saletri

Run Time: 87 min

“The DNA formula just isn’t taking hold…We must work on a locking feature.”
– Dr. Stein


Reviewing Blackenstein gave me the opportunity to take a long overdue side-trip into the world of "Blaxploitation" cinema; a genre which I always find entertaining and on occasion, a bit offensive. However, offensiveness and in-your-face sex and violence is the essence of Blaxploitation: shock value, over-the-top violence, sex, racial stereotypes, and a whole lot of attitude.

The history of Blaxploitation cinema begins in the early 1970’s, when for the first time films were created by, and for, African American audiences. Not only did these movies star Black actors and actresses, but they also featured rich soul and funk laden soundtracks. Another hallmark of this genre is the prodigious use of racial stereotypes. White people are typically portrayed as racist, crooked cops, and are more often than not referred to as "honky"; a pejorative term which was made popular by both the movies and TV Sitcoms ("The Jeffersons", "Sanford & Son", et.al.). Another widely used stereotype was the drug dealing Italian Mafioso (typically referred to as "dagos" or "wops"). Whether or not it was intentional, and I don’t see the filmmakers could not have foreseen it, Blacks were also cast into a stereotype since they were typically portrayed as pimps and drug dealers as well. Ironically, Blaxploitation filmmakers themselves may have "killed the golden goose" as more and more pressure from powerful groups, such as Urban League and the NAACP, called for an end to these types of films. As a result of increasing pressure from such groups, this exciting and controversial genre faded away and died out by the late 1970s.

Movie historians tend to agree that the first Blaxploitation film was the 1971 Melvin Van Peebles film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song featuring a soundtrack by the then unknown group "Earth, Wind, & Fire". Other well-known titles include Shaft (1971) starring Richard Roundtree as the titular detective, John Shaft, the Shaft follow-up entitled Superfly (1972) with the timeless tagline: "Never a dude like this one! He’s got a plan to stick it to The Man!", Black Ceasar (1973) (tagline: "Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem…The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!"), and Black Belt Jones (1974), about a Black martial arts expert who faces off with, surprise, the Mafia.

In 1972 came the first Blaxploitation ‘horror’ movie: Blacula. (In 1976, Blacula director William Crain went on to direct another ‘monster’ film, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, a must see.) Needless to say, ‘Blacula’ was a hit…and where one movie succeeds you can be assured that others will try to ride its coattails and cash in on its achievements.

BlackensteinEnter Blackenstein, an absurd, slipshod, and contemptible film by one-time writer/producer Frank R. Saletri. (Rumor has it that Saletri also went on to direct a 1975 film entitled Black the Ripper, but nobody is sure if it was ever released. Damn. I’d love to get my hands on that one.) The cast of ‘Blackenstein’ is composed of non-actors who are so wooden in their performances that it’s hard to tell if the movie is actually playing or on pause. The script is ludicrous and shows no signs that anybody was interested in producing anything resembling a ‘story’. Furthermore, the production values used in the film make a low-grade porn flick look like "Lawrence of Arabia".

As for the titular creature itself, the ‘monster’ is a maimed Viet Nam vet who turns into a shambling ‘Frankenstein’-clone after an unsuccessful limb transplant. (How he gets a perfectly tailored black suit, a pair of asphalt-worker’s shoes, and a square Afro atop his head is anybody’s guess.)

In fact, it’s insulting to the Blaxploitation genre to lump this pile of crap in with the other films. The pacing is slow at best…nonexistent at worst, the violence is perfunctory and unimaginative, and there is absolutely no attitude in this film whatsoever. There’s probably more ‘Blaxploitation’ in a red-headed kid’s bar mitzvah than in ‘Blackenstein’.

This is gonna hurt. You’ve been warned.

Dr. Stein Dr. Stein (John Hart)

Get it? Dr. Stein…? This little bon mot is the apex of the film’s cleverness. Enjoy it while it lasts. Actor John Hart has been around forever, most notably appearing as "The Lone Ranger" way back when. Since then, he’s had a few guest appearances on a handful of TV shows before retreating behind the lens as a cameraman and post-production supervisor for a number of films.

Dr. Winifred Walker Dr. Winifred Walker (Ivory Stone)

Poor Winifred…after achieving her Ph.D. in physics, she finds that her boyfriend has returned from Viet Nam missing both arms and legs after stepping on a land mine. What would anybody else do in this situation? Why, take them to a mad doctor of course and have a new set of limbs "laser-grafted" back in place, natch…

Eddie Eddie Turner/Blackenstein (Joe De Sue)

Poor Eddie. Both arms and legs blown off after stepping on a landmine in Viet Nam. (How you get your arms blown off when stepping on a mine remains a mystery to me.) Anyway, Eddie transforms into “Blackenstein”, grows about 7 inches in height (including a square Afro), rips off a lot of women’s tops, eats guts, and other nonsense before meeting an untimely demise.

Malcomb Malcomb (Roosevelt Jackson)

Malcomb, Dr. Stein’s assistant, falls in love with Winifred and goes to extreme measures to remove her boyfriend Eddie from the picture. In fact, his infatuation for Winifred is so profound that he goes so far as to inject Eddie with an another guy’s DNA…with most improbable results. Ohhhh! The Horror!

Warning: This movie is NOT FUN!

LabOpen in Dr. Stein’s laboratory. The lab itself looks about as haphazard as everything else in the movie: various bits of equipment scattered about an large sound stage, oops, I meant laboratory. None of the equipment seems in any way related to any other piece. For example, flashing computer terminals stand next to crackling Jacob’s Ladders, racks of test tubes filled with bubbling colored liquids appear beside a gigantic stack of high-voltage resistors, and so in. The first time I saw this film, I assumed that the inclusion of the anachronistic electrical equipment was simply an ‘homage’ to the original "Frankenstein". After several viewings (yes, I’ve been forced to watch this piece of crap many times because of this review) I’ve come to the conclusion that the filmmakers merely hobbled together anything that looked remotely ‘scientific’ and spread it around an empty sound stage in an effort to use up as much floor space as possible. I’m completely convinced that nobody associated with this film has ever even seen the original ‘Frankenstein’ movie. If they have seen it, and continued to make this contemptible film, then may they spend all eternity locked in Satan’s overflowing outhouse and be forced to watch "Beast of Yucca Flats" until the end of time.

Anyway…I’m less than a minute into the film and I’m already pissed off.

We see Dr. Stein walking about the lab, occasionally jotting down a note on his clipboard. (Rule #1 of Making A Bad Sci-Fi Movie: Every scientist has a clipboard.)

Accompanied by the soulful voice of Cardella Di Milo (whom we shall see later in the film during a particularly horrid, and completely unnecessary, night club scene), we cut to see a jet landing at Hollywood-Burbank Airport. After the airplane’s safe arrival at the terminal, who should disembark but none other than Dr. Winifred Walker, holder of a Ph.D. in physics from an esteemed Ivy League university, and girlfriend of Eddie, a limbless vet and soon-to-be maniacal monster. If you like to watch people walking through airports, than buddy, is this the movie for you. The excitement builds as Winifred (ok, Wini from now on, I’m too tired to type that name every time) rents a car and proceeds to the car lot. Outside the airport, she tips the porter and then climbs into the vehicle. You know, I can understand how somebody might need to pad the runtime now and again, but…sheesh! C’mon already!

MaryA short drive later and Wini arrives at Stein’s palatial estate. At the door she is greeted by Stein’s butler/assistant, Malcomb…a character portrayed with all the emotion and esprit of a 2-by-4. Anyway, Wini is shown to a seat in the entrance hall while Malcomb scurries off to inform Dr. Stein of her arrival. In a truly odd touch, the only decoration in the waiting room is a large, porcelain statue of the Virgin Mary, complete with a halo of red Christmas lights. Some sort of significance is implied by a close-up shot of the statue, but we never see it again.

At this point, for some reason, the mellow blues song stops and is replaced by a screeching chorus of violin strings. I didn’t know that sitting in a waiting room was considered ‘scary’, but there you have it. Then again, there is no sign of intelligence throughout the film at all, so I guess I shouldn’t pick too much on this particular scene. Still, it makes you scratch your head.

Anyway, Malcomb shows Wini into the lab where we’re treated to some delicious lines from the EXPOSITRONIC-3K Dialog Machine:

"My goodness, you look wonderful," Dr Stein remarks, "How long has it been?"

Wini shrugs in mock concentration before answering, "I guess about…three years…Yes. Because I’ve had my Ph.D. in physics now for two years." Wini grins before cooing, "I’ll never forget the year and a half I spent studying under you."

It turns out that Wini’s boyfriend, Eddie, has been transferred to the vet hospital in L.A., and she’s moved out to be closer to him…and…<sniff>, help him in whatever way she can.

DinnerLater that evening Wini and Dr. Stein share a meal together. Each of them is sitting at the end of a looonnggg dinner table. Dinner conversation is further complicated by what looks like a large butter-sculpture of a duck placed in the middle of the table which blocks any eye contact that might have been made during the course of the meal.

To further add to my joy, as the film crew rotates the camera around the table, the boom-mic operator’s head and shoulder pop into the scene not once, but twice. Egads, people!

Back to the dinner conversation.

"Have you been following my work?" Dr. Stein asks.

"Oh! Of course, Doctor. I read the results of you winning the Nobel prize in the medical journals."

Oh. Those medical journals.

Blah. Cutting to the chase here, Wini asks Dr. Stein to accompany her to the Vet’s hospital in order to take a look at Eddie. Dr. Stein complies and says he’ll be ready around 2-o’clock. Excusing himself because he has "something to do" (?), Dr. Stein asks Wini to make herself at home and have a look around the estate.

The next day Wini and the good doctor drive out to the Veteran’s hospital. In fact, the outside shots show the hospital sitting in the middle of a vast open lawn, yet from the inside of the lobby you can plainly see a busy street and sidewalk immediately in front of the <ahem> hospital. (By the way, the building the are seen entering in no way matches the exterior stock shots of the hospital. I don’t know why I bother pointing out this type of continuity error anymore, I guess it’s just become part of my nature. Scary.)

Cut to poor Eddie laying in his hospital bed. As an orderly arrives to change his dressings or, well, do something. Eddie asks for some ice cream because his throat is dry, but the bitter (white) male nurse shoots back, "Ice cream? Like hell! This aint no damn hotel!"

EddieThrough a long tirade, the orderly reveals that he too was meant to go to Viet Nam but was rejected on medical grounds. Now he takes out his shame on the wounded men that he is employed to care for. Fair enough, there were a lot of men that didn’t go to Viet Nam for whatever reason, and true, a lot of men were killed and wounded serving their country while others shirked their ‘duty’. That which I find repugnant about this guy’s bombast is the way that the filmmakers felt compelled to include A Message, no matter how ham-fisted the delivery. I mean, this is freakin’ Blackenstein…can we leave the politics out of it? Anyway, Bad White Guy complains some more before roughly injecting Eddie with some medicine, thus assuring him the vaunted "Victim #1" position.

Dr. Stein and Wini eventually find their way to Eddie’s room. "Although, I can’t offer you any positive promises [?]," Dr. Stein begins, "I have been working in the field of replacing limbs." (Can he offer him negative promises then?)

Eddie refuses to accept Dr. Stein’s help, so Wini jumps in,"Dr. Stein just won the Nobel Peace [!!] Prize for solving the DNA genetic code."

Ummm, the Nobel Peace Prize for DNA work? Hoo-boy.

Well, I guess anybody that could win the Nobel Peace Prize for their work with DNA is good enough for Eddie. The crippled vet acquiesces and moves into Dr. Stein’s mansion to see what can be done to restore his missing limbs.

LegsUnbelievably, when Eddie arrives at the mansion and is lifted out of the back of an ambulance, you can plainly see his legs under the sheet! I repeat: Unbelievable! Did anybody give a rat’s ass about this movie at all? Did the filmmakers just forget that Eddie lost his legs? Ack!

Later that evening Eddie receives a DNA injection in preparation for his first surgery. The film’s director clumsily tries to capture an exchange of Significant Looks between Eddie and Malcomb, but the execution of even such a presumably simple cinematographic task was beyond his skills. The shifting of shots between Eddie and Malcomb seems to be mere coincidence, and the actors don’t even seem to be looking where the other would actually be. Furthermore, the script which was given to Eddie Turner’s portrayer must have included "Whenever you deliver a line, do so as if you’ve overdosed on Thorazine." Truly, the acting in this film is not only nonexistent, it’s more of an acting ‘black hole’ that sucks in any possibility of nuance or emotion in any given scene.

Cut to an exterior establishing shot of the mansion shot during high noon, even though it was the middle of the night when Eddie received his injection. As if day/night continuity was this film’s biggest problems. But still, I have to mention these things. It’s my job.

As Eddie lies in his room waiting for the operation to begin, Wini accompanies Dr. Stein on his rounds as he visits his patients who are ostensibly convalescing at Stein’s mansion. The first patient on the list is Eleanor. (Played by veteran actress Andrea King…an accomplished performer appearing in films as far back as 1940. In fact, she was one of the first people to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…and here she is appearing in ‘Blackenstein’. How far the mighty fall. Ouch.)

Anyway, Eleanor receives an injection of what looks like ginger ale. Malcomb exchanges a Significant Look with…nobody. Maybe the syringe? The director just seems to like to interject close-up shots of Malcomb making intense eyes, because, you know, that’s what happens in monster movies so they have to do it here.

Dr. Stein takes a moment to explain to Wini, "Through my experience with the genetic code DNA [?], I have a formula that’s brought her from from approximately ninety years of age to what you see before you."

OldSince she looks to be about 85-years old, I can’t see that Stein has a hell of a lot to brag about. But you know, the introduction of needless sub-plots is mandatory in crappy films, and it also chews up run-time, so there you have it.

As Malcomb delivers another Significant Look at…nobody…Dr. Stein continues by explaining that there are in fact a few problems. You see, Eleanor has to have an injection every 12 hours or else she’ll become old again. Well, you know what I mean.

"The DNA formula just isn’t taking hold…We must work on a locking feature," Dr. Stein states. Yes, the good old DNA Locking Feature. Yessirree.

The next patient is "Bruno", a middle-aged balding man. Dr. Stein pulls back the sheet and shows Wini where he has grafted on a new leg by use of "laser beam fusion, supplemented by massive injections of my DNA formula". All appears to be going well until Dr. Stein pulls back the sheet on the other leg, revealing, and I shit you not, that the new leg has developed tiger stripes (!!!).

What the...=?

"This is the result of an unsolved RNA injection."

As Wini recoils in shock (probably trying not to laugh), Dr. Stein explains this highly unusual reaction is a result of "an unsolved RNA injection. Sort of part of the ‘primeval theory’…a kind of throwback to the jungle."

A What? A throwback to where? Huh? And this guy won a Nobel Prize?! Am I really seeing and hearing all this?

All this nonsense calls for another Significant Look by Malcomb, of course.

Cut to Dr. Stein’s lab. Eddie is laying on a gurney (you can clearly see the outline of his arm under the blanket…Oh, brother!) as Stein comforts him by saying, "When you wake up, the work will be one-third completed."

I just have to ask, and I’m not trying to nit-pick (OK, I am), but if there are 4 limbs to graft, how will he be 1/3 done? He’s going to graft on 4/3 of the limbs at a time? An arm and a leg, but only down to the knee? Then put the other part on later?

After a boring, drawn out ‘surgery’ sequence, Dr. Stein concludes the operation. Wini, bursting with enthusiasm, expresses herself in some of the most awkward dialog I’ve ever heard, "Doctor, this is so great! This whole thing is incredible! Eddie and I are really fortunate that I knew about your work!"

Indeed.

Later that evening the silence is broken by Bruno’s incoherent screaming. Wini and the others rush upstairs to investigate. As Malcomb straps Bruno into a straight-jacket, Dr. Stein explains that this is "not unusual"…simply a reaction to the RNA injections. (Weren’t they ‘DNA’ injections?) Bruno calms down and everybody returns to bed.

The next night, I think, nobody really bothered to maintain any sense of temporal consistency in the film, Malcomb confronts Wini in the lab and reveals the reason behind all of his Significant Looks. Yes, Malcomb is deeply in love with Wini.

Winifred, however, doesn’t necessarily feel the same. "Malcomb, you have been nice to me, and I appreciate it…and I do like you. It would be hard not to."

Really, on what planet do people speak like this?

Anyway, Wini politely brushes off Malcomb’s affections. "Alright," Malcomb murmurs as he leaves the room. A blare of trumpet fanfare indicates that Malcomb is Planning Something Sinister. You see, we needed the trumpets because there’s no way in hell you can discern anything from the actor’s actual, you know, acting.

Very well. Later that night (?), Malcomb is down in the lab setting his Sinister Plan in motion. After a quick check that nobody’s watching, he takes out a bottle, helpfully labeled "Eddie Turner", and pours out the contents. He then takes another bottle, equally conveniently labeled "Bruno", and pours Bruno’s DNA treatment into Eddie’s bottle. Likewise, Eddie’s DNA treatment is poured into Bruno’s bottle.

Needless to say, the director chose to film the entire process of opening the lid, pouring out the contents, switching the bottles, pouring the contents back in, and replacing the lids in excruciating detail. It’s all about as exciting as it sounds. Almost.

Cut to the next day where Dr. Stein and Wini are eating breakfast together.

"Well, Winifred, Eddie should be up and around today," Dr. Stein notes as he sips his orange juice.

"Dr Stein, I know he’s been out and about with the walker, but are you saying he’s going to be walking unassisted today?"

Nope. No need to film Eddie’s recovery when you can just skip over the whole damn thing with a single throw-away line.

SickLater that night, (yes, cut from breakfast to the middle of the night, thank you, Mr. Editor), Eddie just isn’t feeling so hot. When Wini takes a look at him, she sees that he’s grown a large protruding brow and has turned a grey-green color. He’s also growing thick, dark hair on the back of his hands. (I’ve heard of growing hair on your palms, but the cause of that is something that I don’t want to get into right now.)

Dr. Stein insists that they move Eddie into the room "next to the lab" because they have to "work fast."

We soon see that the room next to the lab is a caged enclosure (!!). Wow, talk about your lack of bed-side manner. After a cursory examination, Dr. Stein decides to increase Eddie’s DNA injections by "50 cc’s". (I’m no doctor, but isn’t that a hell of an increase?) Stein and Wini take their leave and lock Eddie in his cell. (!) (Why on Earth would they decide to keep him in a locked cell is anybody’s guess. Then again, this film is consistent in at least one area: absurdity.)

Wini screws around in the lab for a bit and then leaves for the night. After the lights are turned off, well, Eddie starts growling and rises from his cot. Even though he was topless just a minute before, he is now dressed in a perfectly tailored black suit, highly polished leather boots, and sporting a square Afro. Hmmm. The Monster stumbles out of the cell (Wini forgot to lock the door), his arms raised straight out in front of him in imitation of the most banal of Frankenstein cliches, and lurches out into the night.

WalkDid I mention that we get to see him walk the entire length of the lab at a snail’s pace. Seriously…there is nearly 2 solid minutes of watching Blackenstein simply walking across the floor. Unbelievable. Did somebody think this was entertaining? Utter garbage.

Cut to an exterior shot of what looks to be an abandoned warehouse. Oh, and it’s miraculously daytime again. Our lovable Blackenstein monster is, yes, still walking around, big square Afro and all. Ahh, now I see. The Monster has made his way to the Vet’s hospital and enters a conveniently unlocked back door.

We now see Blackenstein standing at the far end of a hallway…which can only mean one thing…a scene showing him walking down the hall! Ayeeeee! More walking!!! Flee! Flee to the hills!

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Monster is here to exact his vengeance upon the cruel orderly that denied him his ice cream earlier in the film. Damn dude…should have given him the ice cream…

ArmIn another wonderful contrivance, the orderly just happens to be working that evening, completely alone, and in the first room that Blackenstein looks in. Well, if it will spare us more walking footage then that’s fine by me.

Blah blah. He attacks the orderly, smacks him around a bit, and then tears off his arm. All of this takes place behind a plastic shower curtain, so we see only the ‘shadows’ of what’s taking place. Gee, thanks again, guys. Anyway, Blackenstein turns and walks back down the hallway with the arm. Why? Um, you’re asking me? Like I said, I just work here.

Since this movie SUCKS, I thought I could at least try and distract myself from the pain by maintaining a body count, so here we go:

Body Count: 1 man, 1 arm removal

Outside he shambles around some more before killing a dog outside the home of an amorous couple. Of course the woman tells her husband to go out and See What That Noise Was. Scratch him. Then she goes out and checks. Scratch her. Not trying to short-change you by skipping details of the movie, but really, with such paint-by-the-number scenes, what more is there to say? It’s all crap. Oh yeah, Blackenstein also tears out the woman’s (very fake) guts and eats some of them.

By the way, the newly whacked woman is played by Liz Renay, a one time gangster’s moll who would up spending 3 years in prison for refusing to cooperate with the police. After she was released from prison she went on to become a stripper and has the dubious honor of performing the first mother and daughter strip show.

Body Count: 2 men, 1 woman, 1 dog, 1 arm removal. (Actually, the dog was a poodle, so technically half a dog, but we’ll round up to the next integer.)

Having had enough fun for one night, Blackenstein shambles back to the lab and goes back to sleep, I guess. So, by the way, just how in the hell does the Monster get in and out of Dr. Stein’s mansion? Did they give him a key? Do they have a little ‘monster door’ cut out of the back wall so he can crawl in and out whenever he wants?

The next morning Wini and Dr. Stein are busy at work in the lab, maybe they’re trying to win another Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever they’re fiddling with requires a vast array of beakers filled with colored fluids. Oh, and give yourself 2 points if you guessed that the beakers have bits of dry ice in the bottom for that ‘cool’ bubbly-foggy effect.

In a way, you have to sort of admire a movie that has the gall to show ‘scientists’ working with bottles labeled by hand-written stickers saying "DNA". I mean…wow. How bad can a movie get?

Work

Another exhausting day of ‘DNA’ research.

Blah. Wini falls asleep because it’s night time, at least that’s what we’re supposed to believe. The Monster wakes up and leaves his unlocked cell for another evening of homicidal activities. Yes, the same footage of him shambling across the lab is played again.

Ok. I officially declare war on this film.

Another incredible feature of the Monster is his ability to walk around, in the middle of L.A., and not be seen. Boy. That’s one amazing monster, alright.

Through the magic of crappy editing, Blackenstein teleports from the mansion to the middle of a public park, where he, <sigh>, walks around a bit. (I hate you, Blackenstein!) Proving yet again that the filmmakers read ‘Making A Monster Movie For Dummies’, guess what happens next…yes, a pair of teenagers drive up in a car and park for a quick make-out session.

Yadda yadda. The girl tires of the guy’s advances and jumps out of the car in a huff. Not realizing she’s in a crappy monster movie, she heads out across the park all on her lonesome. Blackenstein teleports behind her, kills her, and then drags her body off into the darkness.

Body Count: 2 men, 2 women, 1 dog, 1 arm removal.

CopsThe next day the cops show up. Lt. Jackson and Capt. Tucker. (A police Captain is sent to question somebody?)

Capt. Tucker jumps right to the point, "There’s been three murders in the last few days…right in the vicinity."

Um, 3? Actually it’s 4, but who’s counting? Oh, I am.

As expected, the questioning leads nowhere and the cops take off. Nice scene.

Teleport to the future with the Monster shambling around in front of Dr. Stein’s mansion. OK, jump cut to see him walking around by an abandoned warehouse. Confused? Good.

We next cut to the outside of a nightclub. As people walk by and cars driver up and down the busy street, we hear over the soundtrack Blackenstein grunting and a woman screaming. I assume he has just killed somebody so we will adjust the body count accordingly. (Man, what a great movie. A monster that kills people on the audio track only.)

Body Count: 2 men, 3 women, 1 dog, 1 arm removal, 1 gut eating.

ClubBack inside the club, we are treated to a few bad jokes by comedian "Andy-C". After belting out a joke that takes way, way, too long to reach the punch line, we next watch singer (and composer of the original Blackenstein soundtrack) Cardella Di Milo. This entire scene takes an astonishing 5 minutes of run time. Um, this was a monster movie, right? What the hell are people thinking around here?

Anyway, Andy-C heads outside for a smoke in the back alley.

Cut to see a couple making out against a wall. (Huh?)

Cut back to Andy-C smoking just as the Monster walks by. Poor Andy-C makes a ‘shocked’ face, obviously a better comedian than actor…and runs back inside. Well, back with the couple making out, the guys now tries to rape the woman and obligingly tears off her top giving us the film’s mandatory Gratuitous Boobage. Blackenstein kills the dude and then the woman as she politely waits for him to walk up the alley and get her, instead of, say, running away. For some reason he eats a bit of the woman’s rubber guts. Why he eats only female intestines is unclear.

Body Count: 3 men, 4 women, 1 dog, 1 Boobage shot, 1 arm removal, 2 gut eatings.

Apparently Andy-C called the cops and they arrive in force. Well, sort of. The budget only allowed for one cop car, so the footage showing the first police car racing up the street is shown 3 times in a row in an effort to create the illusion of several police cars arriving on the scene. (Nice try, people.)

The policemen, well, policeman since it’s the same cop footage shown a over and over again, head into a warehouse that wasn’t there just a second ago. Amazingly, Blackenstein teleports behind the cop cars even though he was at the far end of a blind alley in the last scene.

Ooookay. Enough of that action scene, I guess. We cut inside the night club where Lt. Jackson is interviewing a distraught Andy-C.

"Now calm down and tell me what you saw," Jackson says.

"I already told you," replies Andy-C.

"Then give me a description of what you saw," says Jackson.

Uhh…ok. I would think that telling somebody what you saw and giving a description of what you saw is pretty much the same thing, but then again, I’m not a cop.

As usual, the filmmakers didn’t give a shit, pardon me, about continuity as Andy-C’s recounting of the events in no way match the events we just saw. Furthermore, Jackson’s questioning adds absolutely nothing to the story, so the whole point of the scene was probably to give Andy-C a bit more screen time in an effort to boost his career. I don’t think it helped much…sorry Andy.

FightBlackenstein makes it back to Dr. Stein’s mansion, once again without being spotted by anybody at all. We next see Malcomb trying to rape Wini. (How charming this movie is…oh, add an extra Breast Shot.) Somehow Wini’s screams don’t come to the attention of Dr. Stein (maybe he’s out watching a Lakers game). The Monster teleports inside the house, stomps up the stairs, and into Wini’s room.

In a most absurd melee, Malcomb and Blackenstein exchange a few punches before Malcomb runs from the room and fetches a gun. He fires a bullet into Blackenstein’s back, which understandably pisses the Monster off. Scratch Malcomb as Wini runs from the room.

Body Count: 4 men, 4 women, 1 dog, 2 Boobage shots, 2 gut eatings, 1 arm removal.

Wini runs into Dr. Stein who came bounding up the stairs after hearing the gunshot.

"Dr Stein," Wini shouts, "the monster…it’s Eddie!"

No shit, Sherlock. Gee, what gave it away? The square Afro? The green skin? The blood and guts on his face each evening? Regardless, Wini and Dr. Stein run off to the lab in order to…do something. Work on an Anti-Monster antidote, I guess.

For some reason, Blackenstein walks down the hall and kills Bruno the Tiger-Legged Man. (Bruno helpfully tosses himself into Blackenstein’s arms so he can be squeezed to death.)

StairsOh God. We now see the Monster walking down a long stairway. Why? Why? Why the pain?

What’s the freakin’ point? Just as he reaches the middle of the stairs, Dr. Stein’s elderly female patient, Eleanor, screams, presumably after finding Bruno’s body. Blackentstein hears the scream and, oh…dear Lord…turns around and walks back up the stairs!

Scratch Eleanor.

Body Count: 4 men, 5 women, 1 dog, 2 Boobage shots, 2 gut eatings, 1 arm removal.

After killing Eleanor, Blackenstein turns around and, I kid you not, walks back down the stairs.

The Monster finally makes it into the lab and catches Wini by surprise, which seems kind of odd, because she just saw the monster upstairs a minute ago, so why the hell is surprised to see him walk into the lab? Oh dear. Let’s get this over with, eh? Dr. Stein runs into the lab from out of nowhere, delivers a couple left-hooks into Blackenstein’s gut with no effect. In return, the Monster shoves Dr. Stein into a machine that makes a hell of a lot of sparks and then strangles the Nobel Laureate.

Body Count: 5 men, 5 women, 1 dog, 2 Boobage shots, 2 gut eatings, 1 arm removal.

DogSupposedly a bit of Eddie’s mind still resides in the Monster’s dark psyche for Blackenstein spares the cowering Wini and instead shambles out of the lab and teleports back outside. Apparently the movie makers didn’t consider the film’s misogynistic content to be high enough so they throw in another time consuming and completely unnecessary scene showing Blackenstein killing an innocent woman. However, I must applaud the director’s restraint in not showing either her breasts or her intestines.

Body Count: 5 men, 5 women, 1 dog, 2 Boobage shots, 2 gut eatings, 1 arm removal.

The cops finally show up at the warehouse, and how they knew that Blackenstein was there is anybody’s guess. This time the police release a pair of attack dogs which bolt into the building and attack the hapless Monster. Alas, the canines prove to be too much for our Monster, as the dogs end up tearing off his arm and pulling out his entrails.

As we hear Blackenstein’s fading heartbeat, we zoom onto his face, battered and spattered with red paint, I mean blood.

Meanwhile, Lt. Jackson and Capt. Tucker have arrived at the Stein residence (Who called them? Everybody is dead!), and lead a stunned Wini out of the house and into a patrol car.

And…yup, that’s it. Cut to closing credits.

I hate you, Blackenstein.

Final tally: Body Count: 5 men, 5 women, 1 dog, 2 Boobage shots, 2 gut eatings, 2 arm removals.

Dennis Grisbeck (May 2006)

Afterthoughts

A film that is truly out of control…and not in the zany "Ed Wood Jr." sense, but more of a "Beast of Yucca Flats" madness.
This movie is a test of endurance and not to be taken lightly. You will learn the meaning of the word ‘hate’. As in "I hate you, Blackenstein".
In a nutshell, and I’m keeping this short because I’m sick of thinking about this damn movie, Blackenstein is dull, contrived, contemptible, and witless. There is no indication that anybody cared one iota about the final product, and every indication that this film was simply rushed into production merely to cash in on the Blacula success before somebody else did.
Do not watch this film unless you have a ready supply of beer and aspirin on hand.
This movie hurts!

Read more about Blackenstein at

IMDB

7 comments to Blackenstein (1973)

  • guts3d

    I haven’t seen this one yet, but I did come across “Sweet Sweetbacks’ Badasssss Song” and the sequel “Badasssss” from the Van Peeble family. I want to watch them and check out this phenomenon.

  • Oddball

    Umm… you used the same character right up for both Dr. Stein and Blackenstein.

  • Wow…people actually read this stuff? 🙂

    Thanks for the heads up, it’s fixed now.

  • guts3d

    Of course we read it! And we have Al Gore to thank for it!

  • That’s right! If it wasn’t for the Internet I’d have to xerox all these and send them out in a mailing list.

  • Guts3d

    The postage alone would kill ya!

  • guts3d

    Hurm… I watched “Sweet Sweetbacks’ Badasssss Song” and it was neither good, nor bad. It was different, camera angles were odd, dialog was stilted and forced, but the movie still drew me in. I am intrigued enough to buy “Badasssss” and see if it is any better.

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