Produced, written, and directed by Jerry Warren, The Wild World of Batwoman was released in 1966, with a disclaimer dissociating itself from DC comics, whose then-current Batman TV show this film disingenuously tries to copy. The Caped Crusader people sued; the film disappeared. Soon after, it resurfaced as She Was A Hippie Vampire-- clearly, one of the great titles in cinematic history. Finally, and for no really good reason, it became The Wild, WILD World of Batwoman, which title it bears to this day.
It's WILDy bad, in any case.
Writer/Director: Jerry Warren
George Mitchell...Prof. G. Octavius Neon
Steve Brodie...Jim Flanagan
Richard Banks...J.B. Christians/Rat Fink
Stock footage...Gratuitous Monsters
The story begins with two new "Batgirls" being initiated, by drinking strawberry yogurt smoothies. Soon after, while on duty behind two garbage cans, they witness a hold-up which turns into a murder. The "Batgirls," you see, are dedicated to wearing (somewhat) skimpy outfits and assisting a superhero named "Batwoman," by reporting crimes via Dick Tracy-like two-way wrist radios. The gals also spend a fair bit of time training but prove fairly incompetent in hand-to-hand combat.
Never mind. The true hero here is the Woman herself, who wears one of the five most ridiculous superhero outfits ever.* I can only conclude that her furs, Halloween mask, breast-bat, and Vanilla-goes-dominatrix attire have been designed to strike paralyzing laughter into the hearts of criminals. Despite her questionable choice of costume and associates, she nevertheless commands the respect of the police, the underworld, and the business community of this film's little world.
The plot involves a stolen "Atomic Hearing Aid," and several stupid villains under the command of the nefarious "Rat Fink." These include mad scientist "G. Octavious Neon," bent-backed assistant "Heathcliffe," and a couple Damon Runyonesque henchmen. Neon mentions some monsters held underground-- but these serve no purpose in the film, and make their brief appearance via stock footage from The Mole People. Rat Fink tries to enlist the help of Batwoman by kidnapping one of the Girls, and holding her hostage in the world's cheapest mad scientist laboratory. Fortunately, our hero and her Girls, sitting bravely around a coffeetable, plan a rescue, execute it, and-- unfortunately, the movie continues. The remainder involves the stolen Atomic Hearing Aid, overexposed day shots, go-go-dancing-inducing "Happy Pills", a badly-matched stock explosion, and a truly moronic plot twist.
Now, it does not take an Atomic Hearing Aid Scientist to see that Batwoman, like the 1960s Batman show it rips off, intends to be camp. It fails. It's genuinely poorly acted, ineptly filmed, and dully written. Funny? A spirit, contacted by seance (don't ask why), speaks Chinese, thus confusing the English-speaking spiritualists. That's the film's idea of humour. Wild, WILD... doesn't even make an enjoyable bad movie. I saw it as originally issued-- so I consulted someone who watched the (inevitable) Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, and-- nope, not even that makes it much more bearable. Batwoman proves a cinematic black hole, sucking in any attempt at enjoyment, returning nothing.
Let's face it. Ed Wood, oft-cited as film history's worst director, often manages to be terribly enjoyable. Jerry Warren bests Wood as a bad director-- because this incompetent offering doesn't even manage that much.
*The others are a matter of debate, but here are my picks: The Blue Raja, of course. The Golden Age Sandman, for his complete lack of colour co-ordination. The Target, for helping his opponents by choosing, yep, a target for his chest insignia. The Whizzer, for choosing a yellow outfit to go with his risible name.
Devon notes that the original outfit worn by Marvel's Daredevil was a clear indication of his blindness, while Jet-Poop derides the silliness of the original costume of Robin, sidekick and walking target.
I first wrote a variation of this review for Bad Movie Night.