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  Blackenstein Sinister SlowcoachBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: William A. Levey
Stars: John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue, Roosevelt Jackson, Andrea King, Nick Bolin, Karin Lind, Yvonne Robinson, Bob Brophy, Liz Renay, Gerald Soucie, Beverley Haggerty, Daniel Fauré, Andy-C, Cardella De Milo
Genre: Horror, Trash
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dr Winifred Walker (Ivory Stone) arrives at the large mansion house of Dr Stein (John Hart) with a proposition: can he, by any chance, save her boyfriend Eddie (Joe De Sue)? He is currently lying in a hospital bed having to put up with the unwelcome company of one of the male nurses who torments and insults him. The reason he is in hospital is that he was a soldier in the Vietnam War until recently he stepped on a landmine and his limbs were blown off; apparently there's no hope for him, but Winifred knows better as Stein has been working miracles in transplant surgery...

After the success of Blacula, the blaxploitation genre found that it could churn out more than simple rip-offs of gangster thrillers - it could throw up some rip-offs of other films as well, specifically horror movies. And so, with crushing inevitability, the black Dracula was followed by the black Frankenstein in this tiny budget example of how to cash in without much imagination, or indeed faith to the source. The title character is not even the scientist, as Hart is unmistakably a white man so immediately the purists who will point out that Frankenstein is not the monster but the creator will be offended.

Yes, the monster is supposed to be Blackenstein yet rather than be an awful warning against meddling in God's domain as you might expect from Mary Shelley's novel, he's pretty much a prototype slasher movie villain who roams the night looking for victims to unconvincingly disembowel. Poor old Eddie is the recipient of Stein's breakthrough surgery, which in spite of being essentially transplant based involves the electrical equipment used by Colin Clive in the thirties version - it's the actual bits and pieces, too, also seen in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein around the same time.

So far so good, you might think, but there are complications when Winifred rejects the romantic advances of Stein's assistant Malcolmb (with a "B"!) and he doesn't take it very well. So badly, in fact that he poisons the DNA serum that is to help out Eddie in his road to recovery, turning him into the African-American equivalent of Boris Karloff's classic monster complete with a flat-top afro. No very good explanation for this turn of events is offered, although one of Dr Stein's other patients has a stripy leg and a tendency to go a bit mad, something he blames somehow on the jungle.

Which leads us to the sequences where the creature is on the rampage, and this must be the most deliberately-paced killing spree in movie history. Honestly, so slow is Blackenstein that he makes Lon Chaney Jr's Mummy look like Gamera, and it takes him about five minutes to walk down the average corridor. When he sets out to murder the male nurse, you have to assume that by the time he approaches him it's the next night, and the only reason he manages to catch up with any of his victims is because they stand totally still as he lumbers about. It would be funny if it wasn't so draining, and watching the monster shuffle his way through badly lit sets for what seems like an hour will have many dozing off long before the end. If you want your trash to be fun, then look elsewhere: a few cheap laughs, notably not from the comedian who shows up to interrupt proceedings, are all this can muster. Music by Lou Frohman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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