Plot: Dr. Stein (John Hart) has developed an injection that has miraculous effects, such as advanced healing and even reversing the aging process. His concoction requires repeat doses however, as the serum doesn’t stick and therefore, if injections aren’t kept up, the positive traits will vanish. After some effective demonstrations, Dr. Stein is about to attempt his most drastic experiment yet, on a disabled Vietnam veteran. Eddie (Joe DeSue) lost all of his limbs in a landmine incident, but Dr. Stein plans to fully restore his body to normal. Eddie was chosen because he is the fiance of Winifred (Ivory Stone), one of Stein’s assistants, but Stein’s other assistant Malcomb (Roosevelt Jackson) wants Winifred for himself. This prompts Malcomb to give Eddie the wrong injections, ones that are known to cause intense side effects. But the side effects are much worse than expected, as Eddie is turned into a hideous monster with violent tendencies. Can Eddie still be saved and can anyone survive his rampage?
Entertainment Value: While other blaxploitation spins on horror were created to cash in on Blacula, Blackenstein is perhaps the oddest of the lot. The narrative puts some new paint on sections of the Frankenstein tale, but remains close enough that the title makes sense, unlike some horror crossovers. Like Blacula, this movie tries to be somewhat serious and offer up some social commentary, but instead, Blackenstein comes off as rather ridiculous. No mad scientist here, just a helpful old man and our villain is just a jealous guy who feels cockblocked. The movie badly wants us to connect with these characters, especially Eddie, but the steady stream of unintentional humor takes over and steals the spotlight. This isn’t a movie that embraced the camp, it seems like they tried to make a serious movie and it went off course, which is of course the best kind of camp. The tone is serious and there’s little to no scripted humor, which means unless you appreciate this kind of madness, you might just be confused as to why Blackenstein has remained such a cult favorite. But for fans of blaxploitation and oddball horror movies, no collection is complete without this one.
A few brief topless scenes, but nothing too graphic here. I do love the scene of Liz Renay in her see through nightie, though. On the blood side, we have a good amount of the red stuff and some weird looking effects. One wound looks like a thin slab of meat was laid on a victim, which is fantasticly strange. You also see some disemboweling, which is always a treat, as well as a man torn apart by dobermans. A number of scenes have some blood involved, but the violence is never graphic. So some fun kills and who doesn’t love seeing someone attacked by a pack of vicious dogs, right? The dialogue here is serious and often laughable, but not in an intentional way. If you aren’t someone who appreciates deadpan performances paired with misguided writing, you might be let down here, but I think its a lot of fun. As far as craziness, you just have to look at how much of a “swing and a miss” this one is, as it tries to replicate Blacula and crashes and burns in the process. The monster makeup and gore effects are also a lot of fun, not to mention the wild real life story of the man who wrote & produced the movie. While not as much of a spectacular off the rails experience as some movies, Blackenstein packs enough wackiness to earn some points.
Overall Insanity: 5/10
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