The Batwoman

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When Dr. Eric Williams (Roberto Cañedo) and his assistant Igor (Carlos Suárez) begin to realize their evil scheme of creating hundreds of fish-men with which to rule the oceans of the world only the Batwoman (Maura Monti) can stop them. A superb marksman, renowned wrestler and super sleuth, the Batwoman is the ultimate bikini clad superhero. Part Batman knock off and part movie serial, The Batwoman (1968) is unbelievably campy. However director René Cardona steers this cult classic with an earnestness that’s contagious and will have the viewer rooting for Batwoman the whole time. It’s this balancing act of camp and seriousness is what aligns The Batwoman more closely with the Batman comics of the sixties than the television show that clearly inspired the producers.

In its historical context The Batwoman is a highly bankable premise for the kind of B-Movie Cardona was making in Mexico. There’s the obvious cash-in on Adam West’s television show for one thing, and the fact that Maura Monti wears little more than a bikini throughout the entire film, almost guaranteeing that every adolescent boy will show up to buy a ticket. So it’s somewhat surprising that Cardona’s camera is as restrained as it is when it comes to photographing Monti in action.

Though Maura Monti may dominate the visual aspect of The Batwoman, Roberto Cañedo’s turn as the diabolical Dr. Williams steals the show when it comes to performance. Unhinged, demented, and not at all self-aware, Cañedo is able to deliver monologues about his fish-man mutant that make absolutely no sense with all of the confidence in the world. Cañedo is mesmerizing; a slow burning fuse to madness.

The Batwoman belongs to the same world of sixties action comedies as Modesty Blaise (1966) and Red Lips (1967). It’s a strange, often surreal world that is a direct reaction to the more mainstream, masculine spectacles of James Bond, Batman, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I’ve never seen a film of this ilk that I’d call a masterpiece, but they have also never failed to entertain.