The Mexican Batwoman is a fascinating and fairly unknown addition to the already overwhelmingly superb Batman franchise. In the 1960’s ‘Batmania’ was in full effect, thanks in part to the popular American TV adaption of Batman starring the charismatic Adam West as the caped crusader. Taking advantage of Batman’s increased popularity director Rene Cardonaa, known later for his luchador (masked wrestler) adventure movies such as Santo vs. the Riders of Terror (1970) and Night of the Bloody Apes (1969), began working upon a new movie that would showcase the talent of actress Maura Monti by splicing elements of ‘Batmania’ with the popular lucha libre style of Mexico. Under her cape, cowl, boots and bikini the gorgeous Maura takes on the lead role of Batwoman in 1968’s La mujer murcielago with stunning beauty and crime-fighting finesse.
Just off Acapulco’s coastline two fishermen discover the body of a drowned professional wrestler. A later autopsy reveals that his pineal gland has been surgically drained of all fluid; a modus operandi that closely followed in the the footsteps of murders in Hong Kong and Macao. The police quickly contact agent Mario Roble (Hector Godoy) to assist in solving the mystery that has fallen upon Acapulco, and the sport of professional wrestling. Roble in turn quickly contacts La mujer murcielago, the beautiful crime-fighting luchador known to the English speaking world as the Batwoman.
So who is the culprit behind these heinous crimes, and why does he/she appear to be obsessed with obtaining the brain fluid of professional wrestlers? Rene Cardona’s The Batwoman wastes no time leaving the audience in suspense by introducing the evil neurosurgeon Dr. Eric Willams (Roberto Canedo)! Upon his boat the ‘Reptilicus’ Williams attempts to genetically engineer a half fish, half man hybrid — a fish-man!
With the help of his assistant Igor the mad doctor conducts a curious experiment involving a fish tank, a goldfish and an Action Man doll. “No reaction…” Dr. Willams says in a downcast tone, but is not dissuaded in his plan to create his perfect creature. “We have to do a new experiment to create our fish-man… We need another wrestler so we can obtain more gland liquid for the transplant.”
“We need athletes, very strong people so our specimen will be perfect…” Williams proclaims!
In the squared circle Batwoman wrestles a sanctioned match that earns her respect and admiration from the other female luchadors. After the match ends she retreats to the locker room to shower and contact Mario, letting him know that she has not discovered any suspicious behavior. But unknown to our bat-heroine is that the heinous Dr. Williams has abducted yet another luchador! Without hesitation the pineal gland is drained of brain fluid for use in another awful experiment. Dr. Williams laughs manically at this extraordinary feat of scientific persistence, as he bears witness to creation of an aquatic fetus!
Will the awful Dr. Williams accomplish his dastardly dream of creating an army of amphibious mutant fish-men?! Tune in tomorrow! Same bat time, same bat channel.
Rene Cardona competently directs an interesting hybrid of science-fiction and adventure, with elements of lucha libre thrown in to appease fanatics of Mexico’s most famous masked luchadors like Santo or the Blue Demon…and it’s a damn enjoyable movie because of this ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach! However, there were a few scenes that did make my viewing experience less enjoyable than it could have been. For example there are moments where the empowered Batwoman is still portrayed as inferior to her male counterparts, which I would have been less tolerable of had the film been released later than the nineteen sixties. Maura Monti, although assisted in most action/wrestling scenes by various stuntwomen, is mesmerizing as Batman’s female counterpart. La mujer murcielago was just one of the thirty five feature length films Monti was featured in during her short six year career as an actress. The Batwoman is a solid 1960’s B-movie. It’s just a shame that The Batwoman was never officially released on home video in the UK…at least not to my knowledge.
The Batwoman is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk; plus if you decide to make a purchase after following the link provided you will have supported Attack From Planet B, so thank you.