Severin Films release a buried 1973 horror movie Blackenstein, from director William A. Levey (Hellgate (1989)) which attempted to cash in on the blaxploitation of Blacula (1972) however fails badly, with a movie of dullness and sluggish pace. Nevertheless the more important aspect of the film is actually found in the special features surrounding the writer and producer of this flick Frank R. Saletri and his unsolved murder on July 12, 1982. While AIP hurried to produce a sequel to the surprising successful Blacula, they found themselves missing the opportunity of doing a spin-off of a black version of Frankenstein, and in stepped Saletri, delivering a meandering storyline filled on dialogue, mismatched scenes, less action, and resulting in lackluster horror film.
The story surrounds the passion of a Dr. Winifred Walker (Ivory Stone) who visits her old professor, Dr. Stein (John Hart) in his grandiose castle in Los Angeles where she’s greeted by butler Malcomb (Roosevelt Jackson), strains to act sinister. Stein is noted for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for the solution to the DNA genetic code, but creating fused legs and arms of others onto amputees and providing lasting life for people. Winifred ‘s visit makes her reveal her ulterior motives surrounding her former fiancée Eddie Turner (Joe DeSue), who became sadly a quadriplegic from his traumatic experience in the Vietnam war, she begs Dr. Stein to help and of course he agrees. Which can’t happen soon enough as Eddie is verbally assaulted by a so-called male nurse (Bob Brophy) who is always ranting but never a racial epitaph, why not, the era, the time-frame all points to the usage, the lack of it skews strangely numerously times, this instance is just one example.
A major misstep in the film which makes absolutely no sense the comedian (a poor one) does a small performance, the essence of a horror film needs to freak the audience out, the tension and suspense builds to generate scares, this scene destroys all the momentum and dwindles it to puddle of sweat of everything becomes lost. Needless to say, the second half of the movie follows the path of the typical Frankenstein film, some murders with extensive killing and basic special effects.
The set used for Dr. Stein’s lab uses items from Universal’s original Frankenstein (1931), thanks to Ken Strickfaden, though well-known through Young Frankenstein (1974). Then the awkward frankly ignorant monster with a squared-off afro, all sums up the “square” behavior of the film, a mix of boredom and shuffling along with enough pizazz to tap into the element of a Foxy Brown feel. The production elements appear to wander aimlessly as if seeking a direction, and lacking in manner, whether aiming for a horror film or a blended comedy, especially regarding Stein’s home sunlit during the day and lighting at night for the absent of atmosphere creating an entire unpolished outlook on the film. The best part of the film comes from the bonus features, which focuses mainly on writer-producer Frank R. Saletri’s life and mysterious execution-style murder. His sister June Kirk interviewed in the touching featurette called “Monster Kid”. In addition, former friends and business acquaintances share thoughts and remembrances from producers and actors Ken Osborne and Robert Dix, as well as an Archive News Footage of the crime too.
This definitely is not the worse production of the Frankenstein story, nor is the movie overall dreadful; however the pacing drags onward for too long, making the film seem longer than expected. It does not contain anything resembling the blaxploitation genre, and just leaves the audience seeking to skip to the extras and then looking for a copy of Blacula or Foxy Brown.
- To Stop This Mutha Takes One Bad Brutha
- Not since “Frankenstein” stalked the Earth has the world known so terrifying a day…or night!
- Warning! To people with weak hearts… No doctors or nurses in attendance.
IMDb Rating: 3.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.0/10