Monday, July 21, 2008

FIGHT BATMAN FIGHT! - A Gregarious Gallery of Counterfeit Caped Crusaders.

With the Dark Knight almost upon us (already unleashed overseas, to be exact) I thought it was time to take in some of Batman's previous big screen incarnations. Rather than go over the same ground as who-knows-how-many-other sites, here at Poptique we like to be a bit different...

So in a follow up to my earlier peek into the fantastic world of Filipino Pop Cinema here are some incredibly obscure Dark Knight doppelgangers courtesy of Video48, which may well be new to you (they certainly were to me...)

Supposedly predating Adam West's camped up Caped Crusader was 1965's ALYAS BATMAN AT ROBIN (not to be confused with the 1993 ALYAS BATMAN EN ROBIN, a painfully cheap singalong spoof of the 60s show, complete with a mustachioed Joker and a cameo by Wonder Woman). Since star Bob Soler also appeared on Filipino screens as the Phantom and home-grown hero Captain Barbell it's safe to suggest that the 1965 version was straight-laced action cinema that pipped the TV show to the post.

BATMAN VS DRACULA - a cataclysmic confrontation that didn't take place on the comic book page until 1991 was unleashed on an unsuspecting Filipino public in 1967. Quite what is going on inside Batman's chest-plate logo is open to interpretation. It's unlikely this version was influenced in any way by Andy Warhol's 1964 Batman Dracula, to be very honest.

1973 brought a crop of Batman epics, undoubtedly inspired by the massive box-office success of the first Darna movie with Vilma Santos - Lipad Darna, Lipad! (Fly Darna, Fly!)

FIGHT BATMAN, FIGHT! featured Victor Wood in the title role - just like Darna star Vilma Santos, Ronald Regan and Batman & Robin's Mr Freeze, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wood later entered the murky world of politics. Fight Batman, Fight! also featured the Joker, Robin, Catwoman and Filipino starlet Pinky as Batgirl. The same year Pinky starred in a smash-hit version of Supergirl for another studio.

Since super-powered lady crime-busters meant big bucks in 1973, Batwoman hit the screen soon after Batman himself. Darna also had a kiddie side-kick (the non-super heroic Ding) so mother and son team Virgina and Robin Aristorenas appeared in the title roles of BATWOMAN & ROBIN. Whether or not the film was a success would be pure conjecture on my part, but it was followed by a sequel the same year when the dynamic duo took on the Queen of Vampires!

It's doubtful that any of these films will be made available any time soon - chances are they've long since disappeared into dust, but one Filipino Batman has definitely survived to be witnessed with mouth wide open - the Bond and Batman comedy-combo JAMES BATMAN.

Camp comedian Dolphy had been rolling them in the aisles since the early 50s, and cultivated a long career in cinematic spoofs - taking aim on such targets as Darna (Darna Kuno?), Jackie Chan (the Dancing Master), Tarzan (Tanzan the Mighty) and James Bond (Doplfinger, Dr. Yes). Dolphy gave Bond another run for his money in 1966 by playing both the super-spy and the Caped Crusading super-hero in the same film. Teleport City Cinema also bagged a copy and unlike myself actually made it from the beginning to the end without skipping. A super-heroic effort indeed...


Blogger Chitty Cat said...

where do you find such stuff from??


6:49 AM  
Blogger Patrick Roberts said...

Dark Knight is a must see for sure, though it might be a better game plant to go after the crowds die down a bit... in any case, Christian Bale's work tends to be right on no matter what his role, Batman included

3:21 PM  
Blogger Vanwall said...

Ah, excellent stuff! To say nothing of the Mexican Batwoman films...

11:18 PM  

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