La Mujer Murcielago (The Batwoman)

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” If Batman was a woman. And a Mexican wrestler. Who swam. A lot.”

Someone is abducting wrestlers, extracting serum from their pineal glands and dumping the bodies in the ocean, at various locations around the world. Most recently, Acapulco. Investigating the crime is Batwoman (Monti), a rich socialite who has a masked alter-ego that fight crime. Oh, and is also a pro wrestler. Which makes her ideal for this case, since she can hang around the gym and check out suspicious characters, while working on moves with her fellow luchadorettes [Not a real word, but I like it]. Who is involved? The blind lottery ticket salesman? The chief of police? Or Dr. Williams (Cañedo), who won’t let anyone on to his ship, which is called Reptilicus, by tha way, and who possesses a sidekick called Igor? Go on, take a wild stab in the dark…

Turn out Williams is attempting to create a race of man-fish hybrids. When sneaking around his ship. Batwoman is caught, and only escapes by flinging a flask of something noxious into his face. Now a disfigured mad scientist, naturally, he vows vengeance on our heroine, sending his scaly creation off to bring her back, so that she can become the first literal fish-wife. The sight of which immediately turns her into a screaming, fainting kind of girlie, and it is a kinda creepy creation, even it’s obviously a man in a rubber-suit. Though as we see at the end, if you want to turn Batwoman into real terror, you need a staple from sit-coms of the era.

This 1968 film came only three years after Thunderball, and shows much the same amazed fascination with underwater photography, which has not aged well. Sure it was amazing at the time: now, not at all. Indeed, that could be the theme of the entire movie: I’m sure it was pretty daring, especially in sixties Hispanic culture, which wasn’t exactly at the forefront of women’s liberation. Now, the main thought it provokes, is wonder at how they managed to avoid someone from DC Comics driving down to slap the makers with a massive law-suit, purely on the basis of the poster.

In the film’s defense, it’s probably not its fault that I came down with a nasty spot of indigestion while watching, which doesn’t exactly leave me with fond memories of it. Monti certainly looks the part, an Italian-born actress and model stepping up from supporting roles in Santo films, as part of a ferocious blitz where she appeared in 30 films over five years, before becoming a TV host. She spends most of the time running about in her blue bikini and mask, which certainly beats George Clooney’s nippled Batsuit. If falling some way short of the promise of the very cool poster, it’s not entirely unwatchable as B-movies go, especially given its age.

Dir: René Cardona
Star: Maura Monti, Roberto Cañedo, Héctor Godoy, David Silva

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