Throwback Thursday: The Batwoman (1968)

With the campy Batman television series ending fourteen days before its March 28, 1968 release, The Batwoman (La Mujer Murcielago) hit the silver screen in Mexico. The film blended action, camp, and lucha libre into a science fiction/superhero film featuring the Batwoman, a crime fighter who is inspired by but not an official adaptation of the DC Comics title of the same name.

In the film, a string of murders occur in Acapulco. The local authorities can’t figure out who or what is killing a number of luchadores in the area. Desperate for help, the police call on the assistance of Mario Robles and his brilliant ally, the Batwoman. Together they attempt to thwart the plans of the evil Dr. Eric Williams. The doctor is tapping brains for pineal fluid that he combines with fish in order to create a Fish Man. Sound crazy, right? Well, it’s absolutely insane….and fun to watch.

The film starred the beautiful Maura Monti as Gloria/Batwoman, Roberto Canedo as the sinister Dr. Eric Williams, and Hector Godoy as Mario Robles, Gloria’s friend and fellow investigator. It also featured a number of professional luchadores and luchadoras who showed off their skills in the ring and in a number of training sessions. Surprisingly, the acting isn’t that bad. Canedo went over the top to glorious perfection and Monti and Godoy turned in solid performances as well.

The Fish Man creature looks as good as any other 1950’s or 1960’s monster from the seemingly endless string of creature features released during those two decades. The creature was designed and created by Alfonso Barcenas. Rene Cardona, who has 147 directing credits to his name, does a great job of keeping the story interesting despite its crazy plot. The action is fairly well done, too. Monti did her own stunts in the film and there is an extended underwater sequence in which she had a number of issues but managed to pull it off very well.

The film is bonkers…..but somehow works. Perhaps it’s Monti’s stunning beauty? Maybe it’s the action? Heck, it could be the whackadoo aquarium that Dr. Williams keeps his fish in with its boiling water? I don’t know, but it just clicks with wonderful campy perfection. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I believe that viewers should at least give it a chance. It’s currently available to stream for free on Tubi and is also available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray. On DVD and Blu-ray, it’s coupled up with The Panther Women, another film directed by Cardona.

I enjoyed this film. There’s just something extremely appealing about it. I plan on looking for more films by Cardona and also hope to see a few more films starring Monti. Sadly, her career on the big screen only lasted about six years. I found in an article that she decided to step away from film because more and more Mexican production companies demanded that female stars do nude scenes, which is something that Monti wasn’t willing to do no matter how much they paid her. Monti didn’t mind wearing skimpy outfits, but she drew the line at full frontal nudity.

Check out The Batwoman. It’s not a great movie but it is fun to watch. Monti is breathtaking and the scenery around Acapulco is beautiful.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Calcasieu SerialFest Chapter 8!

Welcome To The Jungle!

Calcasieu SerialFest made its triumphant return to Sulphur, LA on July 30th! After a small event in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and no event at all last year due to the total destruction of the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur after Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana, retro film fans were hungry to visit classic serial cliffhangers. The Henning House hosted SerialFest this year in place of the Brimstone. Both buildings are part of the same property, so while we definitely miss the Brimstone, the Henning House was a wonderful place to hold the event.

Deacon William Necessary was in attendance yet again and he brought along a number of his classic cosplays. Throughout the day, Deacon Necessary suited up as The Phantom, Captain Africa (below, next to a dashing jungle explorer), Captain Marvel, The Green Hornet, and the Lone Ranger. Between chapters of serials, Deacon Necessary would give the audience historical information and trivia tidbits, all while in costume. He also posed for pictures with anyone that asked and was happy to discuss how he created each costume.

This year’s event was the best attended ever if my memory serves me correctly. We had a number of visitors throughout the day who watched serials, ate popcorn, and talked about their favorite characters and serials. They also helped themselves to some wonderful freebies including stickers, 8″x10″ prints of The Phantom, Phantom rings, Green Hornet rings, and festival masks. They also got a sneak peek at a few of the items that will be on display during the Henning House’s upcoming Chaos Theory art event. I won’t post any photos of the Chaos Theory display, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone that plans on attending the event.

This year’s lineup of chapters.

Calcasieu SerialFest continues to grow and I’m proud to say that Ken’s Alternate Universe was a sponsor in kind this year and will remain so for as long as the event takes place. If you’re in southwest Louisiana in July, be sure to swing by and check out this wonderful event!

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Classic Cinema: Perils Of Nyoka (1942)

Adventure For A Cure

Considered by many to be the best “jungle adventure” serial ever produced, 1942’s Perils of Nyoka gives us two female leads, a gorilla named Satan, and a journey to find a cure for cancer. The Republic Pictures fifteen chapter serial also featured a cast loaded with serial legends, future superstars, and tons of action. It was also a loose sequel to the 1941 serial Jungle Girl that starred Frances Gifford. Both of these serials were inspired by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but Republic remained vague enough with Perils of Nyoka that they didn’t have to pay Burroughs a second time.

The serials plot was fairly simple. An expedition in the African desert are on the hunt for the legendary tablets of Hippocrates. The tablets supposedly contain medical cures for tons of ailments including cancer, which is the main reason that the expedition is searching for them. A second group, headed up by Vultura, an Arab ruler, is also seeking out the tablets, but only to find the treasure that is hidden with it.

When the expedition discovers a papyrus map they seek out the help of Nyoka Gordon, a young woman who lives in the jungle whom they believe can interpret it. Vultura uses deception and a spy in order to figure out the translation for herself. The two parties then go on an adventure through the desert and jungle in order to find the tablets, fortune, and medical miracles.

This serial is surprisingly well done. Directed by William Witney, a legend in serial history, the chapters move along at a great pace and are filled with action. There are also a number of brilliant cliffhangers at the end of many of the chapters. Some of my favorites include a bladed pendulum, Nyoka being blown off of a cliff, Nyoka suspended above a flaming pit, and a classic bridge sequence that reminded me of a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The serial stars many familiar faces. Kay Aldridge portrays Nyoka. While her overall performance is a bit lacking, she seems to have no problems with getting tied up, nearly burned, almost crushed by a spiked wall, or finding herself in all sorts of jeopardy. Her nemesis in the film, Vultura, was portrayed by Lorna Gray. Gray, who would earn a Golden Boot in the 1990’s for her work in western films, had a short but very successful career. Aside from starring in a number of serials, Gray also starred in films with actors such as John Wayne and Monte Hale. Speaking of westerns, Nyoka’s hero in the film, Dr. Larry Grayson, was portrayed by the Lone Ranger himself, Clayton Moore. In a much smaller role was Jay Silverheels. He portrayed Tonto in the long running Lone Ranger series with Moore. Also in the serial was Charles Middleton as Cassib. Middleton thrived as Ming the Merciless in the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials. Throw in serial regulars such as the hilarious William Benedict and the reliable Tristram Coffin and you’ve got an amazing cast.

The serial also featured a few furry friends. Ace the Wonder Dog portrayed Nyoka’s loyal German Shepherd named Fang. Professor, a Capuchin monkey, stole all of the scenes that he appeared in as Jitters, the distracting pet of Red Davis (William Benedict). Emil Van Horn wore a gorilla suit as Satan, Vultura’s personal guard.

Howard Lydecker handled special effects. Stunts were provided by legends of the day including Yakima Canutt, David Sharpe, Helen Thurston, Tom Steele, and many more.

The serial was released under its original name in June, 1942, and then released again ten years later as Nyoka and the Tigermen. In 1966 it was repackaged and heavily edited and released on television as Nyoka and the Lost Secrets of Hippocrates.

Thanks for checking out my post. I really enjoyed this serial. Lorna Gray won me over with her performance as Vultura. Any lady that uses a chariot as her primary means of transportation is always cool in my book!

Classic Cinema: Pay Day (1922)

“You’re Working By The Hour, Not The Ounce!”

Welcome to the first entry in my new series, Classic Cinema. This series will sporadically appear and will focus on classic films from the years prior to 1980. I’ll continue posting horror film reviews in my Classic Horror series and will utilize Throwback Thursday for any films released after 1980. I was inspired to start this new series after volunteering at the Calcasieu Parish Short Film Festival where we showed Charlie Chaplin’s final short film, Pay Day (1922), in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In Pay Day, a silent short film, Chaplin portrays a worker at a construction site who digs a hole, stacks bricks, steals lunches, and believes that he is shorted on his wages at the end of the day. Upset, he heads out to a local bar in order to drink away his troubles. From there he ends up battling the rain, gets a bit lost, tries to catch a streetcar, and eventually makes his way home just in time to get in trouble with his wife.

The short is loaded with humorous gags. A work elevator is used for a running gag at the construction site. In one of the funniest moments in the film, Chaplin catches bricks from laborers below him. He catches them with his hands, back, legs, feet, and knees. He also falls for the foreman’s daughter (Edna Purviance) despite being married.

Speaking of his marriage in the film, Chaplin’s chemistry with Phyllis Allen is simply wonderful. The duo play off of one another to perfection. From quarreling over money to trying to sneak into the house without waking her up, Chaplin and Allen are hilarious together.

The short runs just over twenty minutes and is very funny. The musical accompaniment moves the story along at a great pace. The stunts and gags work to perfection. If you’ve never seen any of Chaplin’s work, check out this short. It serves as a bridge between his silent short film career and his amazing full length feature career.

Primary Cast:

  • Charlie Chaplin – Laborer
  • Phyllis Allen – His Wife
  • Mack Swain – Foreman
  • Edna Purviance – Foreman’s Daughter

Thanks for checking out my first Classic Cinema post. I hope that you enjoyed it. I might expand the category a bit more and focus a few of the posts on production, special effects, and film history. Let me know what you’d like to see in this series in the comments section below.