BLACKENSTEIN is a terrible movie and its title wouldn't suggest otherwise. Like ABBY (sort of like a Black version of THE EXORCIST), BLACKENSTEIN has practically no budget whatsoever and the acting is just terrible. Believe it or not, the two Blacula movies aren't that bad--BLACKENSTEIN, however, is abysmally bad--so bad that bad movie fans might (but probably won't) love it. Others with taste, however, won't!
One of the first things you'll notice on the DVD is that the print is really, really bad--though it does get a bit better later. This is because there just isn't much money to be made from this film and adding closed captions or digitally restoring the picture just isn't going to happen! You also will probably notice how odd Los Angeles is in the film. Most nights, there seems to be thunder and lightning and often there is an eerie fog about as well (perhaps this is just smog). Regardless, it's pretty funky weather for sunny Southern California! As for the plot, it's really not like the traditional Frankenstein story. There is no mad scientist and no dead people are reanimated. Instead, a sane researcher and his assistant work to attach dead limbs to living people who lost theirs in accidents. However, instead of working in a hospital, they work in the doctor's home which is more like a castle (in Los Angeles, okay?). Heck, the place even has a dungeon and Frankenstein-like laboratory! The assistant is a young Black lady whose boyfriend lost his limbs in an explosion in Vietnam. While the transplant looks promising, no one realizes that the doctor's evil butler switches the genetic formulas and the poor Black man starts to mutate and become evil. He, of course, goes on some obligatory rampages and since this is a so-called "Blaxploitation" film, you see two ladies' breasts--though it really made no sense at all and was very, very contrived. It's amazing to see how this made no sense at all, but given that NONE of the film makes sense, it's understandable.
So what is to like about the film......well,....nothing really except for the small sequence involving the comedian. One of the jokes, though a bit crude, is funny and he was pretty cute. The acting is purely amateur, the script is amazingly static and dull (something you'd never expect in a horror film--even a bad one) and the sets are cheap and make no sense. It's really too dull for bad movie fans to enjoy and I found myself falling asleep from time to time--it was that unexciting. By contrast, even the very worst Hammer horror film was light years better.