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Movie Review

Blackenstein

Directed by William A. Levey (1973)
Reviewed by MaT, added on Apr 10 2008


It's a well known fact that I own a lot of horror movies. By "a lot", I mean "anything you could possibly imagine and then some". That's not 100% accurate. There is plenty of stuff I don't have but generally speaking I pride myself on the ability to grab the most obscure bullshit you could imagine. In the mood for Bloodsuckers from Outer Space? Don't eBay it, just borrow it from me. I guess you could say that I collect horror films like other people would collect baseball cards or comic books. The quality doesn't matter so much as the sheer quantity. I've got dozens upon dozens of horror films I've never seen waiting patiently for me to feel masochistic. One of these films was Blackenstein, a movie that I could have sworn I saw years ago, but remembered nothing of when I was viewing it. Which was probably my fragile mind protecting me from continued damage. There are some things the mind just forgets; for safety reasons. Blackenstein is one of those things.



I watched this with a few pals of mine and I think we all came to the conclusion that what we viewed could in no way shape or form be considered a film. Watching Blackenstein is like shooting your kid in the head and then screwing the wound: it's incredibly hard to do and you'll feel really uncomfortable doing it. It's a film that is so utterly inept in every category that I'm pretty sure Steve Sessions took copious notes and probably has a shrine dedicated to it in the back of his car. Legend has it that Samuel Z. Arkhoff pushed this movie out during the tail end of the Blaxploitation era to capitalize on the awesomeness of Blacula. I haven't found any info to back that up but I wouldn't put it past Arkhoff, whose name doesn't appear on the film.



What little story there is goes something like this: A physicist named Winifred asks her Nobel Peace Prize winning colleague, Dr. Stein, to use his newly discovered Laser Fusion Surgery (seriously) technique on her fiance, Eddie, who lost both his arms and legs in a landmine explosion in Vietnam. The goal is to inject RNA and DNA into Eddie and give him new limbs. Unfortunately, things go a bit haywire when Dr. Stein's assistant, rejected by Winifred, tampers with the DNA (labeled in beautiful black magic marker on the side of a plastic bottle). Eddie then turns into Blackenstein and slowly lumbers around killing people until the cops let loose a group of Doberman's that eat him. End of movie.



If you've ever wondered what it's like to feel physical pain as you watch a movie, see Blackenstein. It's impossible to fully explain or describe everything that is wrong with it. Right off the bat, you know things are screwy as the title says "The Black Frankenstein". There is nobody in the movie named Frankenstein. The closest person, Dr. Stein, is white. The Monster isn't really a monster as Eddie isn't ever dead. They just graft some arms and legs onto him and he grows a big forehead. This movie has nothing to do with the creation of life or the Frankenstein story, for that matter.



It's also the most poorly paced film ever. It's right up there with Dead Clowns and Tony Malanowski's Curse of the Screaming Dead. Here's an example of a scene: camera set up as a stationary long shot. Blackenstein walks slowly into frame. No cutaway as he wanders s...l....o....w....l....y. across the screen. Blackenstein exits screen. No cutaway as we then watch Blackenstein's FUCKING SHADOW ramble s...l....o.....w.....l.....y. across screen. Finally, shadow moves out of frame. Hold shot for another 5 seconds for dramatic effect. Cut to next scene. There is another scene involving a comedian who tells a joke that goes on longer than the Sleepy Cast's Aristocrats joke. And like the Sleepy Cast, the joke isn't funny, it's just torture to listen to. In another scene, a Vietman vet hospital orderly yells into the camera about 'Nam for about half the running time of the movie. I think he was talking about being on a boat with John Kerry in Cambodia, or something...



yeah, I'm just as confused by this screenshot as you are. If Dante were alive today he'd give Bill Levy (who also directed Wham Bam Thank You Spaceman, The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington and Hellgate) a special circle in hell. In fact, there's probably a 10th circle specifically for shitty filmmakers who systematically destroy the wills of otherwise good people. I'm pretty sure Blackenstein is considered an affront against God. Anybody who watches it will go straight to hell. You'll probably find me in the 1st circle unless Outpost Doom doesn't redeem me, then you'll find me in the 10th hanging out with Bill Levey and Steve Sessions...which is motivation enough for me to make Outpost Doom great.

The 10th Circle of Hell / 10




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