Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cinematic Pain Part III: The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)

No, this Batwoman has nothing to do with Batman. Writer/director/producer Jerry Warren noticed the popularity of the Adam West Batman series and produced his own bat-themed superhero movie. This led to a lawsuit, which Warren won. However, he decided to re-release the film under the less controversial title She Was a Hippy Vampire. This title makes no sense; with the exception of the opening scene, which has nothing to do with the rest of the plot, neither Batwoman nor her Batgirls behave like vampires, talk about vampires, or call themselves vampires. I suspect the opening scene, which shows an extremely mild sorority-esque initiation ceremony, was inserted later to justify the new title.

Apparently in her "wild world", Batwoman is a well known superheroine. However, most of the legwork is done by her Batgirls; a squad of twenty-something year old girls sworn to aid Batwoman in her fight against crime. Every day they renew this pledge, with one of their number leading the rest in the oath. These scenes serve to make the viewer embarrassed for the young actresses.

The Batgirls don't wear disguises, or nifty costumes, nor are they discrete about who they are. That's why it's not surprising when one of their number is drugged at a club and kidnapped. The kidnappers work for Batwoman's lame arch-nemesis, Rat Fink. Rat Fink informs Batwoman that he will let the girl go if she steals an atomic hearing aid for him. Instead, Batwoman shows up at the villains' lair and takes advantage of the fact that the villains are complete idiots. The girl is rescued without any excitement or entertainment occurring (whew, that was close!).

We eventually discover that Rat Fink wants the hearing aid because it can be made to explode if exposed to cobalt. Batwoman and the bat-sorority are enlisted to protect the hearing aid but are thwarted when they eat soup tainted with the villains' Happy Pill (the pill makes people dance stupidly).

After padding out the running time a bit more, Batwoman sends the Batgirls out to find Rat Fink's lair, the entrance to which is carved into a cliff near the ocean. The Batgirls, being idiots, walk along the cliff face in a single file line and out of sight of each other. They are thus captured one by one and locked in Rat Fink's laboratory. Batwoman finally gets off her bat-fanny and attacks the villains' lair. This leads to a truly embarrassing sequence in which Batwoman and the Batgirls literally chase the villains in circles around a table trying to get the atomic hearing aid away from them. I half expected to see the Three Stooges take part in the scene (at least then it would be funny). An explosion ensues but nobody is hurt. The end.

Not only are the plot, writing, and acting horrible, but the set design and costuming leave much to be desired. Batwoman's lair is an ordinary home (I wouldn't be surprised if it was Jerry Warren's) with amateurish paintings of bats on the living room walls. That the home is Batwoman's isn't even a secret. Batwoman dresses like the madame of a particularly eccentric brothel rather than a superhero. Her relationship with the Batgirls and their loyalty to her only strengthens the notion.

Unlike some of the other movies on my list, this movie isn't necessarily bad because it's boring so much as because it's stupid. It looks like something an untalented and budget-strapped high school drama club would throw together. Although I've heard that the film is supposed to be a comedy, it's so poorly done that I can't tell if it's supposed to be a farce or not. It looks like Jerry Warren saw the popularity of the 1960s Batman television show, thought that the source of this popularity was the bat-themed superhero (I think it was actually the over the top supervillains), and then built his own insipid story around that.

Next up: The Skydivers (Coleman Francis manages to make skydiving utterly boring).

Batwoman calls her agent, attempting to get out of this film

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