Friday, June 28, 2013

#1,047. The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)

Directed By: Jerry Warren

Starring: Katherine Victor, George Mitchell, Steve Brodie

Tag line: "Her thrills rip forth in wide wild adventure!"

Trivia: Katherine Victor created the Batwoman costume herself since Jerry Warren would not hire a costume designer

The Wild World of Batwoman is a bad movie, but the real problem is it also thinks it’s a laugh riot. In an attempt to cash in on the success of the wildly popular Batman TV series (which starred Adam West as the caped crusader), director Jerry Warren tried to bring some of the show’s humor to his movie. Well, he failed; The Wild World of Batwoman isn’t the least bit funny.

There’s a whole lot going on here, but the central story seems to involve an arch-criminal named Rat Fink (Richard Banks), who tries to recruit Batwoman (Katherine Victor, wearing a costume that’s a cross between go-go dancer and dominatrix), defender of truth and justice, to help him steal a nuclear hearing aid, which is powerful enough to listen in on any phone conversation. What’s more, when combined with other ingredients, this particular hearing aid can also be turned into a nuclear bomb! With the help of her followers, the aptly named “Order of the Batwoman”, our hero does all she can to foil Rat Fink, but will her efforts be enough to stop this evil mastermind?

The Wild World of Batwoman is terrible right from the start. After an awkward opening sequence in which a girl is initiated into the “Order of the Batwoman”, we cut to a scene where two guys, one carrying a gun, attempt to mug somebody in an alley. When the muggers demand that he hand over his wallet, the victim slowly backs away and tells the muggers to “come and get it” (which is what anyone who had a gun pointed at them would do, right?). A shot rings out, and the victim falls over dead. To make matters worse, two of Batwoman’s agents were hiding in the background the entire time, and saw the whole thing. They call in to Batwoman, telling her they just witnessed a murder, and can provide descriptions of the killers if necessary (obviously, the “Order” doesn't quite get the whole "hero" thing). Not five minutes in, and The Wild World of Batwoman is already a mess.

Then there’s the so-called “comedy”, which is practically non-existent. After one of her followers is kidnapped by Rat Fink, Batwoman gathers the “Order” together to discuss how they’re going to rescue her. The fact that their meeting is held by the side of a pool, with each of the girls wearing bikinis, is clearly meant to be funny (as is the meeting itself, which is so formal that I thought it was a gathering of some company's Board of Directors). But the acting is so wooden that we have no idea whether they’re trying to be serious or not. The comedy is further hampered by director Warren, who lets most scenes run on far too long. Things do get substantially more goofy later in the film, but by then, it’s too late.

The Wild World of Batwoman is a smoldering pile of compost, a jaw-droppingly awful film put together so poorly that most viewers won’t have the slightest clue what’s going on. Watching bad movies can sometimes be fun (The Crater Lake Monster is a blast, as are Plan 9 from Outer Space and Eegah!), but this one worked on my last nerve. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

1 comment:

Joe Blevins said...

You've got that right. Batwoman is a torture test. I'm reminded of the old joke: "This film needs something... perhaps burial at sea." Jerry Warren shamelessly pads the running time with footage taken from The Mole People directed by Virgil Vogel. For some reason, he took another Vogel film, Terror in the Midnight Sun and butchered it by cutting scenes, adding extra footage of his own and releasing it as Invasion of the Animal People. When it was still too short to sell to TV, he padded it further with footage starring the actress who played Batwoman, Katherine Victor. The attempts at humor are what make Batwoman unbearable. Maybe they should have spent a few bucks to hire William Dozier, the Batman narrator, to record a voiceover for this film. It couldn't have hurt.