The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Batman (1966)

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People often ask me what my favorite comic book movie of all time is, and when I say it's this film, they think I'm either kidding or being postmodern for the sake of being postmodern. I think a big part of it is that my generation has this idea that the 60s were either Andy Griffith or protests, and so to them a show like the Adam West Batman couldn't have been purposefully silly, but rather just a product of "awe-shucks" wholesome family entertainment. It's like watching The Match Game and focusing on them saying "Whoopee" for "sex", instead of celebrating how funny and sexually charged the show really was. If you think "Bam!" "Pow!" and "Zoink!" were serious, then of course you wouldn't get why I love this so much.

Batman was originally supposed to be a feature film to sell the TV show, but when the TV show aired and was extremely successful, they waited on the movie, then shot it between the first two seasons. The film brings back all of the original cast, except for Julie Newmar, who was replaced by Lee Meriwether for the role of Catwoman. In addition to her, the memorable Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, and Burgess Meredith all take on the roles they made famous and iconic.

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I just watched this again last night, and it's still as good today as it was when I first saw it on a Sunday afternoon on WBSK TV 38's Movie Loft with Dana Hersey when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Sure, it's not for everyone, and I don't begrudge a person who goes in for the darker interpretations on-screen today, but to write this one off for being satirical and tongue-and-cheek is as bad as me writing off The Dark Knight for having a Saw villain (played amazingly by Heath Ledger, but a Saw villain no less) as its Joker. The 1966 Batman was not cheesy, it was funny, and it was funny on purpose. I'd say it's ahead of its time, but it was hugely popular when it was aired, so maybe, the correct statement is, us Gen Xers and Gen Yers could probably take page out of our Baby Boomer parents' playbook. If anything, Black Dynamite did. (As an aside, I was born in 1979, so I'm on the cusp of the Gen X Gen Y generations, but I think I'm more Gen X.)

One thing I really liked about this was all the colors. No, it was no Ran, but what is? It just seemed like every set, every outfit, every prop just popped off the screen. Again, a stark contrast to not only the new Batman films, but also even the comic and video games we see today. Tim Burton's Batman did so much to change the landscape, and even the new one that made so much money and is trying so hard to be its own thing is housed fully under Burton's shadow. The thing is, as far as I can tell, Batman is stuck between these two worlds. You can only either be the campy, satirical Adam West Batman of the 60s, or you can be the dark Tim Burton Batman of the 90s. Burton's Batman was such a backlash against the 60s version, but it was so good, the fear is any step back into light and color for Batman is a step back to the 60s version, and it's almost impossible to duplicate that and have it work, so people stay in the dark world. I'd like to see someone pull Batman back into the middle, but I don't see it happening.

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I don't know which way the third in this new Batman series will go for a villain, but they have a lot to live up to with the previous versions, and I'm not sure they'll be lucky enough to have another Heath Ledger performance to save them if they do another ill conceived version of another one of our favorites. Let's be real here, all The Dark Knight's Joker did was give people Bloody Smiles. Ledger took that pedestrian material and turned it into an Oscar (though really, the Oscar he should've won was for Brokeback Mountain). Yes, I agree that the last thing The Dark Knight wanted was a Cesar Romero with his moustache still visible under the white paint, but if we're honest, Jack Nicholson's Joker was just as amazing, and was much better written. What made Romero and Nicholson's Jokers better was how they enhanced great material (on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum), while Ledger turned something unremarkable into a reason to go see a pretty blah blockbuster that we've all seen myriad times before. Ledger should get all the credit for that, but the writers of The Dark Knight should not be let off the hook, let alone applauded.

Adam West is the man. The only star I think of who fit his role better was Christopher Reeve as Superman. If you watch this DVD with his and Burt Ward's commentary, you can really see how he not only gets it, but he even adds his own touches to the silliness around him. He's not a Shatner, who probably isn't as in on the joke as he thinks he is; Adam West started the joke-- it's his joke! But at the same time, he, more than any of the people associated with the show and movie, created an icon. While Nicholson, and then Ledger, may have stepped out from under the shadow of Cesar Romero, not one of the four men to play the Caped Crusader since West has been able to fill his shoes-- er boots... and tights.

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Finally, this one scene above has always stuck out for me as quintessential Catwoman. It's very sexy how she's lying with the heel of her boot resting on that post; but it's also very commandeering, especially how she doesn't move at all as the other villains come in and out, sometimes even going under her legs. It's so feminine, yet at the same time, it's not at all submissive: this is her space, she doesn't care if it's taking up your space, and she knows full well that no guy is going to ask her to give that space up. This is what I was talking about when I reviewed Catwoman and I was discussing how wrong that film's approach was. Lee Meriwether perfectly married the seductive and the deadly elements we expect from Catwoman, and no scene in this film encapsulates that better than this one here. She deserved that part on Barnaby Jones she got from doing so well here.

If you haven't seen this, or even worse, wrote off the old TV show, it's worth another look. Allow yourself to laugh with a foam shark attached to Batman as he punches it while waiting with bated breath for Robin to bring him the Bat Shark Repellent. It's not cheesy, it's comedy-- no one was off camera or in the editing room after saying "how exciting will this scene be? I can't wait!" They were laughing their asses off, and so should you.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060153/

4 comments:

  1. I agree this movie is a lot of fun. This and the Dolph Lundgren Punisher people write off (especially the comicbook fans) Actually The Punisher with Dolph is probably the closest you'll get to a merger of the 60s Batman meets Tim Burton esque darkness. Because people forget the sense of humor the Punisher had, for instance the way all the mobsters walk into the restaurant and find that everyone is holding guns including an old lady and a nerdy accountant looking guy. That's great stuff.

    As for this though, this was great, merely for the way Batman is running around with a big bomb (like a Rocky and Bullwinkle show) and throws it in the water but also can't find in his heart to throw it at ducks. The one thing I always missed about this movie that they did on the show was how Batman and Robin were left on the end of cliffhangers, like I remember there was a gun that turned them into like a paper pache version of themselves and I have no idea but they had to hydrate themselves back to human form, or Batman, Robin and Batgirl were like stuck in a trap that every movement would cause them to suffocate faster so they had untangle themselves by having batman start by wiggling his ears. It was that type of absurdity that I wish the movie would've gone more for.

    See I like the movie, but LOVE the TV show, it's like they were too afraid to go all out. I mean sure you had them turning the U.N (?) into dust but I missed the absurd traps that Batman and Robin had to escape.

    Also the 50s Superman show I thought was really boring. I mean Superman fought mobsters oooh. I did like the Dean Cain show though.

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  2. Yeah, and Cain also did some pretty good action films as well, such as Phase IV, Breakaway, and Final Encounter, I just noticed that you reviewed a single Dean Cain film on this site. You really should change that soon, i'd say you should check out either Phase IV or Breakaway, I also have another one of his films-Militia, also BTW, did you have any luck getting Hawk's Vengeance?

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  3. Phase IV

    I just wanted to get that out of the way. I could go for more Dean Cain now that I'm getting some reader backing for it. In the past people haven't always been big fans. Also, he's more of a Made-for-TV guy, so a chunk of his catalog is out. Still, I'll look to get more of his work up.

    Yeah, the bomb scene, was amazing too. I have an image for it on the image page of this post. I agree that the traps were a great part of the show, but the problem is in a movie, there's no cliffhangers. It would be nice if they had something more elaborate than getting rid of a bomb of avoiding torpedoes. It's good to know, Kenner, that no matter what our differences on Dudkioff films may be, we agree on the important things, like Ran and the old Batman TV show.

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