Batwoman (1968)

AKA: La Mujer Murcielago
Country: Mexico
Director: René Cardona
Starring: Maura Monti, Roberto Cañedo, Héctor Godoy, David Silva, Crox Alvarado, Armando Silvestre
Music: Leo Acosta

If you are presenting a week of Costumed Adventurers, then there is one country whose cinematic output cannot be overlooked, and that country is Mexico. Luchadore films featured a large amount of stories with masked heroes battling maniacs and mad scientists who planned to take over the world. Outside the films of Santo, and simply because of its blatant copyright infringement, Batwoman – or La Mujer Murcielago – is one of the higher profile masked wrestler / secret agent films.

The, er.. beauty of Batwoman is that the heroine of this flick is costumed identically like Batgirl off the television show, but whereas Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl wore a skintight body costume, Maura Monti wears – well, just a blue bikini, along with the usual mask, cape and boots.

The film, which is set in Acapulco, opens with two guys fishing off some rocks. In the choppy surf, they notice a dead body bobbing up and down. They rush off and drag the body to the shore. We find out that the body is that of a wrestler known as ‘El Rayo’ and he is the fifth wrestled killed in recent weeks. So far the police have been baffled by these string of murders. They have no clues or leads. The FBI loan one of their experts, Mario Robles (Héctor Godoy) to help with the investigation. One of the reasons that Robles is so successful is that he works with a secret partner – The Batwoman. We are informed by a flashy montage that the Batwoman is gifted at all sports, like shooting, diving and of course, masked wrestling. Essentialy though, she is just a bored rich widow who choses to spend her time fighting crime.

She arrives in Acapulco by parachute and goes straight from her landing to an autopsy of the last wrestling victim. The coroner informs her that the juice of the pineal gland has been extracted from the victim.

Meanwhile the villain of the piece, Dr. Eric Williams (Roberto Cañedo), who is on his boat, Reptilicus, which is docked in Acapulco harbour, is carrying out a bizare experiment. He places an Action Man figure into a fishtank which houses a goldfish. He pushes a switch and the water starts to bubble, but ultimately the test is a failure. Williams was trying to make a ‘fishman’. Now he needs another wrestler to continue with his experiments. Luckily in Acapulco, Williams has a team of odious minions who specialise in capturing wrestlers. They put their plan into effect and kidnap their next victim while he is doing a spot of fishing.

Williams next experiment goes excedingly well. He creates a fishman, but this creation is only the size of a action figurine. An midget fisman isn’t much help if you plan to take over the world. Batwoman deduces that Williams is most likely the man behind the murders, and choses to investigate. Kitted out in scuba equipment, she swims out to the Reptilicus. As she sneaks around she is captured, but she escapes by throwing a beaker full of chemical into Williams face… he spends the rest of the film looking like a cut rate Two-face.

After her brazen incursion, Williams sends his minions to catch Batwoman. This results in a pretty tame car chase, which ends when the minions run her off the road. In the end she fights off her attackers and they scamper when they hear the wail of a police siren.

While this is happening, Williams is hard at work. He radiates his fishman, who grows to man-size. Yeah, it’s a guy in a red lobster suit. In fact this is where the film turns into a dumb man-in-a-rubber-monster-suit film. Now Williams has created a fishman, who he names ‘Pisces’, he now wants to create a ‘fish woman’. Can you guess who the prime candidate for that experiment will be?

I realise Mexican masked wrestling movies are not for everyone (I don’t know why – what’s wrong with you people?) – and for the uninitiated Batwoman may not be the best introduction to the genre. Sure, it contains all the things you’d want and expect – a masked heroine, in an assortment of swimwear, battling mad scientists and hideous monsters – but in all honesty, the pacing of this film is excruciating in parts. Sure you get one or two small action payoffs, but the setups are incredibly slow. I found myself shouting ‘get on with it’ at the screen on quite a few occasions.

C.O.B.R.A.S DISCUSS COSTUMES ALL THIS MONTH!

The Coalition Of Bloggers wRiting About Spies have teamed up this month to explore the fun and flair of Spy Costumes. Double O Section kicked off the month with an excellent series on costumed heroes. In the second week Spy Vibe followed with a series of articles and video clips: Mods To Moongirls. Next week, the coalition series will wrap up with Armstrong Sabian at Mister 8.

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