It was only a matter of time back at the beginning of the seventies following the success of Shaft and the creation of blaxploitation cinema that horror films would start to appear in that particular genre. Blacula had been a massive success (and a terrific film as well) so Hollywood lawyer turner producer Frank R. Saletri bankrolled a spin on a certain Mary Shelley story and gave us Blackenstein.
Having suffered catastrophic injuries in Vietnam Eddie Turner has returned to the United States and is being cared for in a veteran’s hospital. His fiancee Winifred studied under an eminent scientist called Dr. Stein who has been doing pioneering work in DNA. He agrees to try and help Eddie when Winifred tells him his story and the poor fella is taken to Dr. Stein’s house/laboratory. The scientist has a creepy assistant named Malcolm who is secretly in love with Winifred and when she spurns his advances he messes around with Eddie’s medical formula which results in terrible consequences.
I make no apologies for loving this genre and count the likes of the afore mentioned films above and others including Cleopatra Jones and anything with Fred Williamson great entertainment. Blackenstein has a lot going for it with it’s dramatic horror music most likely library tracks, some soulful tunes and nice set design considering the film probably didn’t cost much. However, it’s thespian performances do lack somewhat but everyone is game and getting an old time Hollywood actor in John Hart (he was once The Lone Ranger) to play Dr. Stein adds a little bit of class although he does seriously overact at times.
In all truth, the film is a right load of cobblers but you can’t help but enjoy it as it was obviously a labour of love for it’s producer Saletri who was sadly murdered some years later in Los Angeles. Severin have gave us two versions of the film, the original theatrical release and an extended video cut along with interviews, news footage and a trailer.
A truly terrible film but at the same time totally wonderful, they sadly don’t make ’em like this any more.
- Starring John Hart Joe De Sue Ivory Stone Andrea King Roosevelt Jackson
- Director William A. Levey
- Distributor Severin Films