Wild Wild World of Batwoman

What could be better than kicking back with a good movie? Well, every so often, you don’t have the appetite for the meat and potatoes of a well-crafted film, and you just want a light cinema snack. Hence of the profitability of mediocre (and worse) films like Transformers, Twilight, and 300. Our culture has a fascination with bad movies (unlike with other mediums), and much has been written about which films are the worst of all time. In 1980, critic Michael Medved and his brother Harry published The Golden Turkey Awards, in which they listed their picks for the worst movies of all time. They ultimately selected Plan 9 from Outer Space (Dir. Ed Wood) as the Worst Movie Ever Made. People tell me I’m competitive, which might be why I felt compelled to find a worse one. Recently, I did.

For an unending source of putridly bad movies, it’s hard to beat Mystery Science Theatre 3000, a serial in which host Mike Nelson (usually) and two robots are silhouetted in front of one of the worst low-to-no-budget flops the producer can find. Mike and the ‘bots make the movie bearable by inserting lines, yelling out jokes and generally lampooning the movie. It turns what would be a traumatic experience into a load of laughs. Usually.

Even Mike’s sense of humor was no match for the horrendous work of Jerry Warren, however, as shown by the colossally bad movie The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman (1966).

WWWB is about … well, that’s the problem, you really can’t tell. The character who seems to be the lead (Katherine Victor) wears a costume, vaguely reminiscent of a superhero costume, complete with a bat logo painted on her breasts. She doesn’t do much to fight crime, however, throwing one punch in the entire movie. Her response to “crisis” situations is usually to call bureaucratic meetings with her underlings, a cult-like troupe of teenage girls who carry guns but spend more time dancing the Jerk than anything else.

All this dancing makes them vulnerable because the “super villain” in this movie, whose costume basically amounts to a bowler hat and a ski mask, and who has an equally ridiculous name (Rat Fink), attacks them by serving them drugged drinks that make them begin dancing uncontrollably. There’s one particularly painful scene in which Batwoman confronts Rat Fink (Richard Banks) while one of her sidekicks is slowly doing an involuntary jig in the background – for about 10 minutes. These “Batgirls” are always doing odd things in the background, e.g. fighting over a horseshoe, and are sometimes more interesting to watch than the characters in the foreground.

Warren offered the role of Batwoman to Victor, but, having worked on Warren’s  Teenage Zombies and The Curse of the Stone Hand, Victor was not eager to work with Warren again. To convince her, Warren promised Victor large production values, color photography and her own bat boat in the film. None of these promises were kept.

Our herione.

Our herione.

Our Mystery Science heros are clearly overmatched by this one, as evidenced by Mike’s sudden plea (whether to the director or God, I’m not sure) in one of the most pointless scenes “Please, God, cut away to anything, please!” I felt pretty much the same way. Even Mike and the ‘bots’ lampooning wasn’t enough to ease the pain of this one.

As bad as this film is, you still might ask why I say it’s worse than Plan 9. With Plan 9, if you have the stamina to sit through it, you can sort-of figure out what it’s supposed to be about. It starts with an alien invasion, then we see the dead rising from the grave; eventually the movie sort-of  ties the two together, leading to a climactic scene inside a spaceship that looks oddly like a wood shop.

The villain.

The villain.

The production of WWWB was downright schizophrenic, largely due to the director’s egocentricism. Victor told Wikkipedia that, on set, if an actor rubbed Warren the wrong way, their lines would be cut out or given to other actors. Victor claimed “the pretty brunette who was kidnapped in the beginning of the picture was supposed to be the lead girl, but for some reason Jerry thought she was getting to big for her britches and gave all her lines to the girl in the leopard tights”. All of this sudden mind-changing by Warren left its mark on the movie. WWWB features, among other things, a man who wears a Hitler mustache for no reason, and another who shambles around the set like a dog, being treated like a pet by a guy who is apparently supposed to be some kind of mad scientist (George Andre). This mad scientist never really does anything, however. He does venture into a cave under his lab once, where he witnesses monsters that are just recycled footage from The Mole People. We see these creatures for two seconds and no explanation for their presence is ever given. At the end, Dog Boy comes off of … whatever he was on, and tells some kind of story about an atomic bomb made out of a hearing aide.

Warren first released the film under the title Batwoman. Then, after being sued, he re-released it as She was a Hippy Vampire (there is no vampirism in the movie). As you can imagine, the film suffered a quick and painful death at the box office. Decades later it was released on video under its current name.

If you’re someone who combs through vaults of old movies, looking for unsung classics, this is one to avoid. It’s astonishing production wrapped before too many cast/crewmembers simply stormed off the set. Even the MST3K version is unbearable. Ed Wood must be spinning in his grave.

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