BAT-A-THON: Batman: The Movie (1966) – Leslie H. Martinson

Posted: July 3, 2012 in Action, American, Comedy, English-Language, RELAPSE, Summer
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Batman: The Movie (1966) – Leslie H. Martinson (Dir.), Adam West, Burd Ward, Cesar Romero, Lee Meriwether, Burgess Meredith

Let the (drinking) games begin…

I don’t know what just happened. I was sitting, with a group of friends, minding my own business, two bottles of wine close at hand. One minute we were discussing the finer points of plot development, thematic subtlety, scenic tension, the next… I think…I think I was violated. All I know is that I woke up the next morning and my brain anus was aching. Concerned for my well-being, both psychological and physical, I visited a nearby physician. He inquired if I had been consuming alcohol. I said yes. He asked if I had taken any drugs. I said no. He asked if I had recently watched Batman: The Movie starring Adam West. I mentioned that it certainly was a possibility. His face blanched.

I’m waiting for the blood test to come back. I’ve entered a support group.

To any modern-day, cerebral individual, we remember the sixties as that decade that produced the Beatles, that birthed the Civil Rights movement, that defined much of our returning fashionable chic. Nobody fucking told me what those bastards watched on television back then. WHAT THE FUCK? Yes, when I was a child, I accidentally flicked to Batman the television show, startled and entranced by its wildly eclectic colors, it’s Sesame Street level of insistence on the appearance of flashing words (all of them first-grade level), its giggling slathering of comic-book villainy and its exceedingly tight tights. I suppose a part of me folded up those experiences into a tiny envelope, no return address, and sent it off into the abyss of my pre-adolescent memory.

It has returned. All I can say is: “What the fuck, 60s?” Was the use of hallucinogenics so rampant and wide-spread that nobody thought to ask, “What the fuck is wrong with this decade?” I get the 80s. Cocaine is a hell of a drug. I get the early 90s, that was the sense-crippling hangover of that 10-year binge on the white dragon. But what happened in the sixties? Weren’t there Mad Men? Gimlets? Smoking inside? Flagrant misogyny? I had no idea that there were random bikini parties! I had no idea that logic was about as sensible as Howie Mandel’s deathly fear of human-contact, or that harshly offensive stereotypes were commonplace every day things that people spat out willy-nilly, like tiny pieces of flavorless gum imprinted with the faces John Wayne playing Mexicans and Andy Rooney as every Asian.

“What did the doctor say, Batman?” “Oh, Robin, don’t worry.” Long, awkward silence.

Yes, Batman: The Movie occurred. We had a guest star, my friend Ben, who was more than happy to witness Kevin (The Master of Giggles, it’s like a master of ceremonies, but gigglier) drink ourselves close to death as this onslaught of absurdity slapped us continually across the cheeks (both face and ass). What to say about this movie? Adam West plays Batman as interpreted by William Shatner, with his extremely gay friend Robin, trying to foil ALL THE BADDIES. This includes the Joker, who forgot to shave his mustache and instead painted over it, Catwoman, played puuuurrrfectly by Lee Meriwether (did I say perfect? I meant the opposite of that), the Riddler and his awkwardly highlighted crotchal region and the Penguin, who looks like if Pinnochio, after becoming a real boy, fell into a destructive spiral of drug use, ending with him joining a culture of prostitution and becoming the fattest pimp on the block. What ensues is a cavalcade of mind-fuckery that would make even Thomas Pinchon say “Dial it back, guys.” Exploding sharks. Technicolored dream-guns. Nuns. Ducks. Disguises that aren’t disguises. And puns. Oh god the PUNS!

The only way my adult self could handle a flashback of this acidic variety was to turn this juvenile activity into one of inebriated idiocy. A drinking game was devised! The rules were surprisingly simple and the results were shocking. Rule 1) Drink whenever there is onomatopoeia on screen (BAM! POW! You know, helpful things). Rule 2) Drink whenever Batman uses a device that’s impossible. Rule 3) Drink whenever there is an incredible leap of logic. Rule 4) Drink whenever there is a Dutch angle (when the camera turns slightly sideways to indicate EVIL!). Well, I expected there to be multiple fight scenes that would put me in the ER… Well, there weren’t. And even the ones that occurred were noticeably BAM-less. People just punched each other, their fists refusing to textually express themselves in their cathartic connections with bad-guys’ jaws. I was getting worried that Batman’s knuckles were suffering from the violence-equivalent of writer’s block until the final fight. Well, it almost made up for it, helping me reach a level of drunkenness I haven’t experienced since that one time in college that someone suggested the ‘Dude’ drinking game. Look it up. You’ll die.

Making a cameo appearance from Nintendo, Bob-ombs!

What DID do some damage was the rampant use of the Dutch Angle. Every fucking scene with any kind of malicious undertone was accompanied by a camera technique since used only by John “OMG have you seen his hairline recently” Travolta’s dreadlocked-platform-shoed masterpiece Battlefield Earth. Rent it if you really want to commit suicide. It’ll do the job. Seriously, though, whenever those guffawing, sneering, mugging bastards cluttered the scene, Kevin, Meg and I were drinking our asses off. Uuuuugh. I think a moment should be taken to examine at least Cesar Romero’s Joker. Obviously the blueprint to Nicholson’s bat-shitness, Romero doesn’t really have anything to do in this movie other than imitate Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot every time he’s given a commonplace everyday task. Apparently, serving tea is the funniest mutherfucking experience of his life, second only to the hilarity of pushing a button and the side-splitting act of potting fucking plants. Get your shit together, Joker. Also, Catwoman has a cat. And it looks severely disinterested in everything. You know, because it’s a fucking cat. The part where Batman uses it as a weapon is slightly ball-droppingly amazing.

There are two things I wish to address. Firstly, I don’t know what peyote the writers were smoking as they locked themselves into a New Mexican sweat-shack, each of them experimenting with their sexuality, finally reduced to a salty, inebriated orgy, a feat receiving an award for Most Awkward Gang Sex Act (presented, of course, by Lionel Richie), but this script is about as sensible as an evening with Hunter S. Thompson. Here is just a little snippet of logic that would have made Bertrand Russell’s nut sack explode: the first fight scene (with a styrofoam shark) occurs at sea, “It all seems fishy…and what eats fish? The Penguin. And it happened at sea… C. Catwoman! Well, that’s quite a riddle. Riddle-er! The Riddler!” Yes. That is actual dialogue.

Robin’s face after Batman informed him of what he wanted to Bat-do in order to Bat-celebrate.

The other point of major contention was the fact that literally everything Batman owns is labeled. Everything. He uses a Bat-drinking-fountain. A Bat-computer. A bat-ladder. I’m not sure if the producers understood that calling something ‘bat-something’ does nothing to increase its base effectiveness or even expand its utility, it just wastes the English language. Those words will never be used for anything else. You have murder those words, gentlemen! But seriously, was the Bat-cave designed by Fisher Price? Is it because Dick Grayson actually is developmentally challenged and can’t seem to remember what anything is? Did this need to label everything emerge from a cold and passive aggressive fight between the dynamic duo after Bruce Wayne discovered that Robin was eating HIS yogurt in the fridge, thereby forcing him to put the name bat in front of everything so that when he finds Robin eating popcorn and watching TV, Wayne can demand, “Is that bat-popcorn? It’s clearly labeled. Put it back, you little bitch.” That’s what I came up with. Any thoughts?

In the end, where does this fall into the canon of bat? Or…BAT-CANON. Well, it certainly doesn’t have the sulfurous stench of the turd-gondolas coming up (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, respectively). There is a sense of complete understanding of both the audience and the work on display. Nobody is convinced that this is meant to be anything other than it is, something so camp, it would make the Boy Scouts of America blush and fold their legs. It is more of a relic, than an addition, a time capsule sent to us from a time infected with crazy on such a basic level that it’s almost as though everyone is speaking a different language. It’s a movie like this that helps explain the early James Bond films and why they are so fervently beloved. It’s a Rosetta Stone of the past, helping us translate it into something palatable. It isn’t bad. It can’t be. Saying that this movie lacks plot, character and sense is like accusing of an elephant of being unable to climb trees. It could if it wanted to, but the elephant would probably look at the tree and think “who the fuck needs that?” Instead, it changes into a bikini and runs around giggling. That’s this movie. So, if you don’t like it, shut up and watch something else. This is history. Very, very confused (sexually and otherwise) history.

When this man is the movie’s voice of reason, you know something is wrong.

And now, a detailed log of my descent into near-alcohol poisoning!

Even the DVD menu has given me a wild boner. Dear god. What have I wrought? #batathon

“Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that Batman’s eyebrows are drawn on? He’s like a Geisha.” ~Kevin #batathon

COMMODORE SCHMIDLAPP! I think I might have just wet my pants.#batathon

The bat mobile is like knight rider’s uncool dad. #batathon

“Batcopter is the worst bat-thing. Other than bat dildo. Pointy.”#batathon

WHY WOULD YOU NEED WHALE REPELLENT? WHEN ARE WHALES BELLICOSE? THEY’RE WHALES! #batathon

Holy Alcohol Poisoning batman! Too many logics leaped! Speech…slurring… #batathon

Pirates? I’m not surprised. It’s almost like they add a layer of sanity to this mess. #batathon

Schmidlapp! It’s like a German sex game involving strippers, children and turmeric. #batathon

This art direction makes Lucy with the Sky With Diamonds look like Hemmingway. #batathon

Penguin-microphone. It’s like a microphone but an endangered species was ruthlessly murdered to make it. #batathon

The Riddler’s crotch confuses me. It’s like an Escher penis.#batathon

Penguin magnet? Does it only attract penguins? I HAVE QUESTIONS. #batathon

MORE LABELS! This shit is like Dora the mutherfucking explorer. But whiter. #batathon

Intercepting porpoises! Yessss #batathon

The Riddler looks like John Waters. But a sex offender. Well, more of a sex offender. #batathon

Exploding Octopus? Hold your orgasms, ladies. #batathon

Bruce Wayne, if Hugh Hefner ate a virgin’s heart. #batathon

“If the Joker is a problem, I’ll bash him brutally.” Is that…is that sex? Stop teasing us! Show us a bat-penis! #batathon

Bat penis. Like a regular penis, but it has a label. For prostitutes with learning disabilities. #batathon

The Iron Curtain, Catwoman’s name for her pussy. Also, the name of her vagina. #batathon

Commissioner Gordon was jailed Tuesday with a bat tattooed on his penis when he misunderstood the order to “Flash the bat-signal.”#batathon

Adam West quotes poetry. Every English teacher has a stroke.#batathon

“Is cat woman wearing an evil turtleneck?” #batathon

Dude just flew out of a window, fell into the water and exploded.#amazing #batathon

Batman Parking Only – The most annoying parking restriction of all time. #batathon

“You were under the influence of post-hypnotic suggestion.” Otherwise known as ecstasy. #batathon

“When a man in a mask offers you a pill, say no. Especially if he has rape spray.” #batathon

They manage to get from Apple Sauce and eggs to the UN. Good job guys. #brainmelt #batathon

Catwoman, carrying a cat. What is she? A fucking 23 year old my ex girlfriend? Crazy. #batathon

Catwoman’s cat is really pissed off right now. It’s like it’s a cat.#batathon

And Starring Mickey Rooney as the delegate from Japan. #batathon

“Well…yeah. Horses are really bad for cancer.” ~ Huntsberger.#batathon

I want to call everyone a feline floozy. I feel good about myself.#batathon

The Bat-charge looks like the cinematic equivalent of David Hasselhoff coming into your house and eating all your burgers.#batathon

“Dick’s got great aim with his big technicolored dream gun.” ~ Kevin.#batathon

FINALLY! Who do I have to fuck to get some onomatopoeia around here? #batathon

Why does Batman have a sword? #batathon

“There’s something about a man holding a limp hose and saying ‘solemn moment’ that just gets me.” ~ Huntsberger. #batathon

THE LIVING END? What does that even mean???? #batathon

That concludes round three. And, like a dog returning to its own shit in disgrace, so does the Bat-franchise return with Joel Schumacher’s attempts to murder everyone suffering from epilepsy. Join us next time for Round 4: Batman Forever.

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Comments
  1. I think I tried to watch “Batman Forever” back in to ’90s and found every loathsome part of it insufferable. Can’t wait to hear (I mean, read) you rip it apart.
    ~Nikki

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