The Unsanctioned Films of Batman
D.C. owns Batman, and Warner Brothers owns D.C. For the past four decades the only studio permitted to release any Batman franchise film was Warner Brothers, even if the rights were held by an independent production company that actually put the film together. Only twice has D.C. allowed any other studio to release Batman films. Columbia Pictures for the Batman serials in the 1940s and 20th Century Fox for the 1966 Batman movie based on the television series. That means any other Batman movie released to theaters was made without the permission of D.C. And there have been quite a few. Some got around those sticky copyright laws by claiming they were parodies, others were made in countries that could not care less about American copyright laws. But all are not sanctioned Batman franchise films. Since most of these films are not in English, and a lot of them are considered "lost", reviewing all of these films is impossible. But at the least they are worth mentioning.
Alyas Batman et Robin ( Alias Batman and Robin ) ( 1965 )
Starring: Bob Soler as Batman and Lou Salvador Jr. as Robin
Produced by: D'Lanor Productions
Directed by: Paquito Toledo
The first of at least eight Batman movies made in the Philippines. Made a full year before the Batman television series and amazingly it was a comedy. And, unfortunately, it is among the lost Batman films. Since these Batman movies were made without D.C. comics consent, there was little chance they could be distributed in other countries. This left the only prints of these movies in the Philippines where movie preservation was never top priority, which is why many may no longer exist. Since this film has never screened outside of the Philippines, and to date has not shown up online, it is not only among the lost, but no synopsis exists to give us a clue what it's plot was. Perhaps some day someone can find a Filipino review and translate it to English, but till then all we have to go on is the print ad for the movie poster.
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo ( 1966 )
Starring: Ron Haydock as Rat Pfink and Titus Moede as Boo Boo
Produced by: Ray Dennis Steckler
Directed by: Ray Dennis Steckler
While film producers in foreign countries could get away with ignoring American copyright laws, that was not the same for American producers. You simply could not make a Batman film without signing a deal with D.C. However, there was a way around this. The parody. The law allowed spoofs of copyrighted works provided it was obvious they were spoofs. Mad Magazine could publish a Batman comic as long as they called the characters Bats-Man and Sparrow. This also meant that anyone could make a Batman movie as long as it was a parody. And in 1966 as the popularity of the television series reached its peak and 20th Century Fox was set to release the theatrical film version, two producers of low budget films decided to release their own Batman parodies. Director Ray Dennis Steckler took no chances to make sure there was no doubt his film was a parody. The names "Rat Phink and Boo Boo" are as different from "Batman and Robin" as you can get.
Rat Phink a Boo Boo is a very odd film. The first half of the film is a not so bad crime thriller where a gang of purse snatching thugs terrorize their victims before finally beating and robbing them. Randomly picking her name from a phone book, they begin harassing another young woman with threatening phone calls and the occasional stalking. It turns out she is the girlfriend of Lonnie Lord, who is described by the narrator as a very popular singer. Whenever Lord is on the screen the film takes a sudden shift in tone into a Beatleesque musical as Lonnie Lord sings one of his songs. Instead of simply stealing her purse, the gang of thugs decide to kidnap the girl and demand a ransom from Lord. Unable to come up with the money Lord decides there is only one way to save his girlfriend. It turns out he is secretly the superhero Rat Phink, and his girlfriend's dim witted gardener is actually his side kick Boo Boo. From this point on the film shifts to a ridiculous campy comedy as Rat Phink and Boo Boo track down and fight the kidnappers. The end of the film has an extra ten minutes of nonsense when a performing gorilla escapes from it's trainer and abducts the girl Rat Phink had just rescued.
Ray Dennis Steckler was one of a group of independent film makers that included Ed Wood and Coleman Francis who were notorious for making inept ultra low budget schlock. The almost non existent budget is not only apparent on this film, but has become legendary. The film's unusual title was reportedly the result of a mistake made by the animator who did the opening credits. For whatever reason the letters "ND" were left out of the word "AND". Steckler could not afford to fix the mistake, so instead decided to release the film as "Rat Phink a Boo Boo". Steckler went to his grave denying this story, claiming he intended to rename the film Rat Pfink a Boo Boo when his young daughter came up with the name. The film's original title was "The Depraved", and was never intended to be a Batman parody. Steckler had made a deal to deliver a low budget crime drama/musical to a film distributor, and had been shooting it in sequence. Halfway through shooting the film Steckler wanted to do a Batman parody, but did not have enough money to do so. Instead he took the half a film he had already shot and completed it as the Batman parody. Steckler's claimed that he was making the script up even as he was directing the film, but could not figure out what to do after the girl had been kidnapped. Asking the cast and crew for any ideas as to how Lonnie Lord would rescue his girlfriend, someone jokingly suggested he call Batman, and thus the idea of ending the film as a Batman parody was born.
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo is three different films that do not belong in the same movie. The original idea of mixing a dark crime thriller with Beatlesque musical numbers was a mistake; having it switch to a Batman parody on it's second half only compounded the mistake. But then again, the films only cult value is the way it switches genres. When it is in crime thriller mode it is not so bad. The musical numbers are just as good as any early music video. But the parody part of the movie is just not good. Aside from the shock value of seeing the film switch to parody mode, there is nothing much to laugh at. But perhaps the film's biggest problem is the pacing. You could edit this film down to ten minutes and still loose none of the plot.
James Batman ( 1966 )
Staring: Dolphy as Batman and James Bond, Boy Alano as Robin
Produced by: Jose O Vera
Directed by: Artemio Marquez
One of the few Batman films from the Philippines that is not considered lost, and perhaps because the film's star, comedian Dolphy, is still very popular in that country. An evil organization is threatening the United Nations. In their hour of need, the U.N. brings in both James Bond and Batman. Both characters are played by Dolphy, using a split screen each time they are both in the same scene. Batman and James Bond can't get along, and each tries to work alone. Predictably they will need to learn to work together to bring down the head of the evil organization. Dolphy is yet another foreign comedian who's style is extra broad comedy. We have that in America, but mostly in live action kids shows like The Banana Splits, and in those Ernest movies. As such, the humor in James Batman feels more like something suited for kids under 12. Still, there is something fascinating about Batman and James Bond teaming up on a mission.
The Wild World of Batwoman ( 1966 )
Starring: Katherine Victor as Batwoman and Richard Banks as Rat Fink
Produced by: Jerry Warren
Directed by: Jerry Warren
The second American Batman parody of 1966 was Jerry Warren's The Wild World of Batwoman. Jerry Warren's "The Wild World of Batwoman" was entirely conceived as a Batman parody. Instead of having a Batman, he would have a Batwoman. Only one problem. There already was a Batwoman in the Batman comics who had been written out of the book in the late 50s. Warren did not realize it, but he had accidentally made a film based on one of the characters from the Batman comics. D.C. even claimed as much when they filed a lawsuit against Warren for copyright infringement. Warren would eventually convince the courts that he had made an honest mistake, and his film was meant to be a legally protected parody. But to be safe, future releases of the film were titled She Was A Hippie Vampire. This film is awful. Warren was more interested in recapturing the campiness of the television series that he never bothered with a coherent plot. Batwoman is in charge of a squad of bikini models who act as her spies, reporting to her by radio whenever they spot an act of crime, but never actually doing anything to help. Batwoman herself seems never to do much of any crime fighting during the film. Her arch villain is a masked man named Rat Fink ( no relation to Rat Pfink, but an amazing coincidence suggesting Warren and Steckler were in cahoots ) who in this movie steals a listening device that doubles as a powerful bomb. The rest is just ridiculous. If you have to see this film, then you are better off watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version.
Batman Fights Dracula ( 1967 )
Starring: Jing Abalos as Batman, Rolan Robles as Robin and Dante Rivero as Dracula
Produced by: Fidelis Productions
Directed by: Leody M Diaz
One of the most sought after of the lost Philippine Batman films is 1967's Batman Fights Dracula. Like the other lost films, the synopsis is not available. But it does appear, based on the print ad for the film, that it was first of the unauthorized Batman films that was not a comedy. It was also promoted as the first Filipino Batman film in full color. It was probably inevitable that a work of fiction would feature a battle between Dracula and Batman. In Bram Stoker's original novel, Dracula had the power to transform himself into many different forms, including wolves, fog and bats. When Dracula began appearing in the Universal horror films, for budgetary reasons his transformations were limited to bats. Eventually Dracula would be thought of as part bat, so how natural it was for fans to suggest that Batman should fight the "Batman". What prevented this from happening was that the Dracula character was copyrighted, and would have cost D.C. an arm and a leg for the rights to use that character. And besides, Bob Kane had already created a full roster of great villains for Batman to fight, so Dracula was not really needed. Even after Dracula became public domain in 1962, D.C. showed no interest in having Dracula as a Batman villain. And with Batman being a copyrighted character, no other company could legally produce a work of fiction featuring Batman and Dracula. But that did not stop artist Andy Warhol who shot a cheap film featuring models wearing capes and masks on a roof top titled "Batman Dracula" in 1964. The film was only shown at Warhol's exhibits. Three years later the Filipino Batman/Dracula mash up was released. It would not be until 1991 that D.C. released a Batman comic book featuring Dracula, and not until 2005 that they released the direct-to-video movie Batman vs. Dracula.
La Mujer Murcielago ( The Batwoman ) ( 1968 )
Starring: Maura Monti as Batwoman
Produced by: Guillermo Calderon Stell
Directed by: Rene Cardona
In Mexico, professional wrestling is known as Lucha Libre, where the wrestlers wear colorful masks that hid their identity. With the rise of the sport's popularity in the 1950s, it was not long before the wrestlers themselves were asked to star in Mexican movies. Thus began the Luchador films in 1952, featuring masked wrestlers who were depicted as superheroes. By the mid 1960s Mexican film studios began hiring non-wrestlers to portray Luchardor heroes. But the formula remained the same. The hero was a professional Lucha Libre wrestler who secretly had superhuman strength and was regularly asked by authorities to help fight monsters, space aliens and other supernatural and science fiction villains. Such is the formula for this movie. Professional wrestlers have been found murdered. Fearing a serial killer the police hire Batwoman, a secret agent and professional wrestler. Her investigation leads to a mad scientist who has been attempting to turn wrestlers into sea creatures, the dead wrestlers being the failed experiments. Inevitably this all leads to a showdown between Batwoman and a sea creature. Maura Monti wears a costume nearly identical to that of Adam West's Batman, but that is as close this film comes to being a Batman film. Maura's character is a professional wrestler that just happens to wear the Batman costume. Otherwise, this is another formula Luchardor film.
Batwoman and Robin ( 1972 )
Starring: Virginia Aristorenas as Batwoman, Robin Aristorenas as Robin and Sofia Moran as Catwoman
Produced by: Jun Aristorenas
Directed by: Jun Aristorenas
Jun Aristorenas was a popular action star in the Philippines who moved on to producing and directing. He married actress Virginia Gaerlan, and subsequently began casting her in his own films. As Virginia Aristorenas, she went on to become known as the queen of Filipino action films, just in time for the martial arts film boom of the 70s. Jun made a habit of casting family members in his films, eventually making a child star out of his five year old son Robin. Perhaps it was his son's name that inspired Jun to make his own Batman film starring Robin as Robin. Instead of starring as Batman, Jun gave the role to his wife, changing the character to Batwoman. The film was popular enough that it spawned a series starring his wife and son as Batwoman and Robin.
Fight Batman Fight! ( 1972 )
Starring: Victor Wood as Batman, Roderick Paulate as Robin, Pinky Montilla as Bat Girl, Rod Nevaro as Joker and Lotis Key as Catwoman
Produced by: Romeo N Galang
Directed by: Romeo N Galang
Another frustratingly lost Filipino film, Fight Batman Fight! appears to have been a minor science fiction epic. The posters and print ads show space aliens and robots and ray guns, and Batman flying like Superman. Some web sites have reported that director Romeo N Galang agreed to destroy all prints of this movie to avoid a lawsuit from D.C.
Uçan Kiz ( Flying Girl )( 1972 )
Starring: Safiye Yanki as Uçan Kiz
Produced by: Sahin Koçali
Directed by: Semih Evin
You may be wondering right now, where is the Turkish Batman? It turns out there were at least two Turkish Baman films. The first was Uçan Kiz, which roughly translates to Flying Girl. But the poster shows no doubt that the Flying Girl's costume is that of Batgirl from the Batman television series. Exactly what Flying Girl does in this movie is still a mystery. Although not considered lost, a bootleg copy of the movie has yet to appear.
Batwoman and Robin meet the Queen of the Vampires ( 1972 )
Virginia Aristorenas as Batwoman and Robin Aristorenas as Robin
Produced by: Jun Aristorenas
Directed by:Tony Cayado
The second in the Aristorenas family series of Batwoman films. This time they apparently fight Vampires.
Yarasa Adam - Bedmen ( Bat Man - Bed Plans )( 1973 )
Starring: Levent Çakir as Bedmen and Emel Özden as Bedrobin
Produced by: Müfit Ilkiz
Directed by: Günay Kosova
While Uçan Kiz is not yet available as a bootleg, you can find a washed out print with no subtitles of this film on the internet. The title of the film translates to Bat Man - Bed Plans, which sounds more like a porno than a superhero film. And it practically was. Batman takes Robin to a strip club. Batman picks up random women and has sex with them. And Batman is a super spy. The film's version of SPECTRE has been killing young women, and it is up to Batman and Robin to stop them.
Johnny Joker ( 1973 )
Starring: Virginia Aristorenas as Batwoman, Robin Aristorenas as Robin, Jun Aristorenas as Joker and Merle Fernandez as Catwoman
Produced by: Jun Aristorenas
Directed by: Bert R Mendoza
The third and possibly final film in the Philippine Batwoman series. This time Jun Aristorenas joined in on the fun as The Joker. Since the series stopped using Batwoman & Robin in the title, it is hard to tell if any other Batwoman films were made. There were plenty of JUVER films made with the same cast, but with no synopsis provided on each, there is no way of knowing if these were more Batwoman films or if Virginia and her family moved on to regular martial arts films.
The Super Cops ( 1974 )
Starring: David Greenberg as Ron Leibman a.k.a Batman and Robert Hantz as David Selby a.k.a. Robin
Produced by: William Belasco
Directed by: Gordon Parks
While not a parody or rip off of Batman, this film deserves a mention because the two lead characters are called Batman and Robin. Based on the real life story of two New York police officers Ron Leibman and David Selby, it was produced during a phase of films based on real police detectives, such as Serpico ( 1973 ). The exploits of both officers lead to their fellow officers calling them Batman and Robin. Aside from their nicknames, and a fade out joke where the text BIFF and POW are superimposed over the lead characters, this film really has nothing to do with Batman at all.
Bathman dal Pianeta Eros ( Bathman from the Planet Eros ) ( 1982 )
Cinematografica Roma Rama
Starring: Mark Shannon as Batman
Produced by: Salvatore Caruso
Directed by: Richard Bennett
There have been countless Batman porno, such as Batman XXX and Splatman. Most of them were direct-to-video ( and shot on video ) productions. And since they were not released in theaters do not qualify for this article. But at least one pornographic film did get a theatrical release. The one known as the Italian Batman. The thin plot has features the Italian Batman as an alien from the planet Eros who apparently came to this planet to fight crime and have lots of sex. After a series of rapes, including the wife of Commissioner Gordon, Bathman tracks down the villains to their lair, and engages in a mass orgy with most of the cast. Which is pretty much the same plot as all the other Batman pornography. The fad of American adult film companies shooting X-rated parodies did not begin until long after the shift from dank theaters to home video. Batman dal Pianeta Eros was the only Batman porn produced when the industry was still releasing theatrical films, as far as I know, the only Batman porn to be released in theaters, albeit dank theaters in Italy.
Star Jjangga II: Super Betaman vs Majingga V ( 1990 )
Produced by: Bong-shik Ahn
Directed by: Yeong-han Kim
The long running Japanese television series Super Sentai is better known in the United States as the source material for the Power Rangers series. Basically the American version of this series saves money by using the fight scenes from Super Sentai and editing them into the newer American production. If you have seen any episode of Power Rangers then you get an idea what the series was about. Evil aliens from an evil planet consistently send monsters to attack installations on Earth. A group of costume wearing humans with exceptional martial arts skills confront the monsters and defeat them, sending them back to their planet. Super Sentai was so popular that episodes were re-edited and released in theaters. Not surprisingly, there are many shows just like Super Sentai throughout Asia. South Korea's contribution was Star Jjangga.
Somewhere around the late 80s Star Jjangga added a new character. Super Betaman. His wore a yellow Batman costume, hence he has become known as the Korean Batman. But basically he is another Super Sentai knock off, using his martial arts ability to fight invading monsters. A theatrical movie was released that was most likely compiled from random episodes of the series, and has since made it's was to America as the bootleg Super Batman vs Manzinga V.
La Verdadera Historia de Barman Y Droguin ( The True Story of Barman & Droguin )( 1991 )
Starring: Victor Trujillo as Barman, Ausencio Crúz as Droguin and Ramiro Gomez as The Penguin
Produced by: Raul Trujillo
Directed by: Gilberto de Anda
This Mexican film is one of the few legal movies on this list due to it being a parody. Comedians Victor Trujillo and Ausencio Cruz play two friends who decide to become superheroes. Bruno ( Trujillo ) is a fan of Batman, and even owns a bar called "The Batcave". His friend Ricardo ( Cruz ) is a ne'er-do-well inventor. While at a store they stumble upon a hold up and reluctantly end up subduing the crooks. Ricardo decides he wants to be a superhero, and convinces Bruno to go along with the idea. They create costumes that are similar to that of Batman and Robin with Ricardo supplying the wacky inventions for their utility belts. They inevitably run into a crime boss who resembles The Penguin. A more or less harmless film that had the same theme Kick-Ass ( 2010 ) would nearly two decades later. It was no doubt made to capitalize on the popularity of Tim Burton's first Batman film.
Alyas Batman En Robin ( 1991 )
Starring: Joey de Leon as Batman, Keepee de Leon as Robin, Rene Requiestas as Joker, Panchito Alba as The Pinguin, Almira Muhlach as Catwoman, Roy Cantos as The Riddler and Dawn Zulueta as Wonder Woman
Produced by: Lily Y Monteverde
Directed by: Tony Y Reyes
One of the few Filipino films that has not been listed as lost. Production began in 1989 as it was intended to be released at the same time as Tim Burton's Batman. It followed the same basic plot as La Verdadera Histtoria de Barman y Droguin. But the producer neglected to change the costumes and characters names, resulting in D.C. suing the production company, effectively preventing it's release for two years. A small time hood is inspired by the Batman comics to become The Joker, and convinces a crime boss he is friends with to become The Penguin. While they take on the personas of these villains and wear the same costumes as from the 1966 television series, they are basically a gang of bank robbers. A couple of doo gooders decide that if criminals can dress up like villains from Batman, then they can become Batman and Robin. After a lengthy period of training they become Batman and Robin and succeed in capturing The Penguin. But the Joker gets away, and later breaks Penguin out of prison. And it is also a musical. Why not.
Alyas Batman En Robin is currently popular in the bootleg circuit. But it is not a good film. It has a nearly identical title to Alyas Batman et Robin, the very first Filipino Batman film. But it is doubtful it is a remake.