Monday, 12 September 2016

#30 The Wild World of Batwoman (Wes)

The Wild World of Batwoman
I was actually aware of our next movie The Wild World of Batwoman purely as I’d seen the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode that riffed it years ago. So knowing how bad this movie was in advance, I was dreading having to watch it without Mike and the Bots to take the edge off of the torture. It turned out though that we couldn’t find a non-riffed version of this movie anywhere, so we watched the MST3K version and had somewhat of a lucky escape…
When one of the Batgirls is bat-drugged in a bat-bar and batnapped, the leader of the Batgirls, Batwoman (Katherine Victor) is called by some other Batgirls (who are listening in to the first Batgirl being batnapped via a bat-wrist-radio) to help. By now Batgirl has been locked in a cage and is being held captive by three villians, Tiger (Mel Oshins), Bruno (Steve Conte) and Professor Neon (George Mitchell), who are all working for the villainous Rat Fink (Richard Banks). When Batwoman goes to rescue her ward, Rat Fink demands that she steals him an atomic hearing aid before he’ll release her. Batwoman manages to foil the incompetent villians though and rescue Batgirl. Batwoman is than asked to guard the atomic hearing aid, but Rat Finks men drug everybody with a happy pill that makes everybody dance (has anyone got any Vera’s? Luvley….) and they get away with it. Can Batwoman defeat Rat Fink and save the bat-day? Why don’t more crimefighters try to locate stolen items via bat-séance (I’m assuming it’s due to all the massively racist spirits)? What on Earth do the monsters from The Mole People have to do with this movie? Find out right now, by reading the rest of this same bat-review on this same bat-blog! (Not really. I never answer these questions, but keep on reading anyway)

Ok firstly there’s some things that came up during researching this movie that I know Colin will cover in his review too (which you read here), but I think they need addressing. Firstly that Batwoman is apparently a vampire in this movie. Did we miss something entirely here? At what point in this film did she show any vampiric qualities at all? The only scene which even mentions vampires is right at the beginning of the film, where three wannabe Batgirls (who are never seen again) drink yogurt and are now suddenly “synthetic vampires”. This throw away scene was added to the movie after it’s name was changed to explain its new title, which brings me to item number two…
The reason Batwoman is supposedly a vampire is because this movie went through a name change to She Was a Hippy Vampire after director Jerry Warren was sued by DC Comics for copyright infringement. Somehow either the judge presiding over the case had never read (or even seen) one of his comics, never seen Batman on TV (even though this was made during it’s height of popularity) or seen one of the 1940s theatrical serials. Either that or they decided that changing the gender of a hero, and making the costume more skimpy was different enough for it not to be a complete rip off and the judge found in Warren’s favour. The crazy thing is, that the fact that it was BatWOMAN and not Batman actually was Warrens defence. I bet he wished he kept Batwoman’s sidekick Thrush in the script after he got away with that one!

Reading an interview with Warren makes the whole thing crazier than it already is though. Because he won the lawsuit, he didn’t legally have to change the title of the movie at all. The reason he did was because by the time the movie was released, four years after it was made, the Batmania was dying down and Warren thought it’d be “ridiculous” to try to cash in on the whole Batcraze. I’m starting to think that the judge that heard the DC Comics vs Warren case was Judge Rummy and DC were being represented by Lionel Hutz…
So the movie itself… Shambolic is a word I don’t use often enough, but think it’s the perfect word to describe this film. Not only does the film rip off the design of Batman, the plot is so absurd it could have been taken from one the Batman episodes of the sixties. However whilst Batman would have handled it with buckets of camp charm, The Wild World of Batwoman is so ham-fisted it just remains ludicrous. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have its moments of inept charm, for example Batwoman being fed chocolate milk and macaroons by the villians when she goes to rescue the kidnapped Batgirl is a moment of genius, as is some of the Batgirls bizarrely fighting over a horseshoe in the background in one scene, but they are just too few and far between to really make this a worthwhile endeavour.

Batwoman herself is oddly the least wild person in the whole of the swinging sixties. She looks like 80s pop star Toyah was told she had to attend a superhero themed costume party with only 10 minutes notice, so had to put on a facemask and grab the first thing that came out of her wardrobe. She is also completely deadpan, even when saying the most ridiculous lines, which is a nice touch, but ultimately watching someone with the emotional range of a Terminator becomes tiresome (unless you’re actually watching a Terminator movie obviously).
The acting from everybody else in this movie however makes Victor look like she’s in line for an Oscar. It just simply doesn’t exist (with Warren reportedly giving lines to other actors if the person who initially had the line annoyed him, this is hardly surprising). The Batgirls “acting” consists entirely of wearing bikinis and go-go dancing. It’s just a shame that this dancing is less erotic than the Tinman’s dance in The Wizard of Oz.

This is another one of those movies that probably wouldn’t have even been heard of enough to even reach the IMDB bottom 100 if it wasn’t for being in Mystery Science Theatre 3000! As much as I loved that show, I’m starting to resent it for bringing so many just plain terrible movies to the worlds attention. The only redeeming feature I found about The Wild World of Batwoman is that we couldn’t find the whole movie, so I can hardly recommend even the most bored of you out there to watch it. A dull movie, with a plot that’s harder to find than the answer to one of The Riddler’s riddles. Less Batman, more I Wonder Why this Movie was Ever Made Woman.