The Bat Woman – Indicator

uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Bat-Woman-1-220x275.png" width="220" height="275" srcset=" 220w, 456w, 768w, 900w" sizes="(max-width: 220px) 100vw, 220px" />Director: Rene Cardona
Screenplay: Alfredo Salazar
Starring: Maura Monti, Roberto Canedo, Hector Godoy, David Silva, Crox Alvarado, Armando Silvestre, Alfonso Barcenas
Country: Mexico
Running time: 80 min
Year: 1968
BBFC Certificate: PG

For a brief period in the 1960s Batman-fever was everywhere. The colourful, campy and ridiculously over the top Batman TV series was a phenomenon during its brief run (three seasons and a big screen outing). It made a star of its cast, led by Adam West as the Caped Crusader and Burt Ward as Robin, the Boy Wonder, and featured a wealth of star cameos as well as sparking a huge range of merchandise.

Each episode was full of gaudy colours, camp humour, comic book style words filling the screen during the fight sequences, larger than life incarnations of Batman’s villains (who can forget the likes of Cesar Romero’s Joker, Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, and the portrayals of Catwoman by Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt on the small screen and Lee Meriweather on the big screen).

Like any huge hit, a range of imitations followed, and Mexico’s The Bat Woman was one of these. The Bat Woman was directed by Rene Cardona, a director, actor, producer, screenwriter and film editor who directed more than 100 films (include Santo vs the Riders of Terror, and The Panther Women, which are also receiving lavish releases on the Indicator label).

The film opens with a man found dead floating in the sea. We soon discover that this is the fifth such death, believed to be murder, of a wrestler. We’re then introduced to the titular heroine, The Bat Woman, a Bruce Wayne-esque millionaire (known as Gloria when not donning the cape and cowl) who has a masked alter ego to solve crime, and is also a female wrestler. It turns out evil scientists want the perfect specimen to create an amphibious human hybrid. It’s not too much of a spoiler to say they succeed in creating a fish man, and then they turn their attention to creating a fish woman. No prizes for guessing who they have in mind.

So, let’s turn to the elephant in the room. Just how much of a copy of the Batman TV series is this? Well, not much to be fair. Outside of the costume, name of the heroine, jazz score, colourful cinematography and transitions between scenes, it feels much more inspired by the likes of the James Bond series and Universal monster movies like The Creature from the Black Lagoon (the villain is typically over the top and has a laboratory themed lair that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Bond film, or a Universal or Hammer horror). It’s played much more seriously than the Batman TV series (well, as serious as a film which features a plot to create a human/fish hybrid investigated by a superhero-like character can be), there’s no camp humour or colourful villains (outside of the gill man created by the villain), and no words filling the screen during the fights.

Instead, we get an intriguing investigation (and counter investigation as the villains try to uncover the alter ego of The Bat Woman). Where the film falls down is in its action; the fights are just not very well choreographed or entertaining, and there’s even a car chase that is relatively dull, going on too long and with no drama. The cinematography is great though, and there are some wonderful sequences filmed by underwater photographer Genaro Hurtado; we get plenty of these as the investigation frequently takes to the water, including the standout sequence in the film – a subaquatic chase as the gill man pursues Gloria.

Finally, a note on two of the stars. Italian-born Maura Monti is excellent as The Bat Woman, and it’s a shame she didn’t have a longer career (she made 35 films but these were during a career that only lasted six years). She performed her own stunts (though an obviously different woman performed her wrestling sequences) and swam in the fabulous underwater sequences. Special mention for the late Roberto Canedo as the villain Dr Eric Williams, who had a much longer career encompassing over 300 films. Canedo steals every scene he’s in as the character who most drives the plot forward.

In closing, The Bat Woman is a lot of fun, but it’s hampered by the lack of drama in the fight sequences and some dull moments. There is a plenty to enjoy though, including some outstanding underwater cinematography, that aforementioned gill man/Gloria undersea chase, some memorable performances and a neat sci-fi plot.


The Bat Woman is released on limited-edition Blu-ray on 25th March 2024 by the Powerhouse Films Indicator label. The 4K restoration from the original negative is simply outstanding. Colours pop, the wonderful cinematography and on-location footage looks amazing, and there’s not a blemish to be found. The original Spanish audio also sounds great.


4K restoration from the original negative

Original Spanish mono audio

Audio commentary with film historian and Mexican cinema specialist David Wilt (2024)

Bat of Nine Lives (2024, 20 mins): Maura Monti, the Bat Woman herself, discusses her life and short but prolific career in Mexican genre cinema

Adventures in Mexicolour (2024, 21 mins): Mauricio Matamoros Durán, journalist, writer, and indie editor of Belcebú, and formerly DC Comics, examines the position of The Bat Woman within Mexican and international pop and comic-book culture

Fantastique Creatures (2024, 14 mins): José Luis Ortega Torres, film critic, teacher, and author of the book Mostrología del cine mexicano, explores the monstrous creations of early Mexican genre cinema

Original theatrical trailer

Image gallery: promotional and publicity material

New and improved English translation subtitles

Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Dolores Tierney, archival essays by Doyle Greene and Andrew Coe, archival interviews with Maura Monti, and full film credits

UK premiere on Blu-ray

Limited edition of 8,000 individually numbered units for the UK and US

The commentary by David Wilt packs so much information in, it’s ripe for repeat listens. It opens with a look at the release of the film and how it followed in the success of the Adam West Batman series. It runs through some of the stars of the film, including star Maura Monti, a look at the style of the movie and how despite the cape and cowl it’s more of a Bond imitation than Batman. There’s a fabulous look at the gill man and underwater photographer Genaro Hurtado who, as we learn during the commentary, was much more than a cameraman – this section alone is worth the price of admission. There’s also a look at Mexican lucha libre films, movies that feature elements of Mexican wrestling, and super heroes in Mexican wrestling and films. It’s an outstanding commentary.

The 18-minute interview with star Monti is wonderful. Monti is in fine form taking a look back at her career, how she made her way from Italy to Mexican cinema, some dangerous and potentially career- or even life-ending moments filming her own stunts for the movie, and other memories of shooting the film. She’s a joy to spend time with and it’s a really neat interview that flies by.

Also valuable is a 21-minute look at the film and its place in Mexican and international pop and comic book culture by writer Mauricio Matamoras Duran. Here we look at similarities not just to Batman, but to films featuring the masked wrestling hero Santo. We also get overviews of director Cardona, wrestlers in comic books and on film, and a lovely look at Mexican comic books. It’s packed with archival images, particularly of the comics and film posters and, like all the extras on this set, it’s great.

Film critic Jose Luis Ortega Torres’s 14-minute piece provides a mini overview of the film itself, its plot, describing some of the action and some information about the stars and crew, and a look at other monster movies from Mexi It’s another nice addition which improves as the running time goes on and the focus is more on information than the plot of The Bat Woman.

Although there is understandably some crossover with the interviews, overviews and commentary, each includes enough of its own information or take on the film, genre and stars to make all extremely worthwhile. They complement each other well.

Completing the on-disc package is a typically over the top trailer and a gallery of just over 80 promotional stills and lobby cards. The gallery concludes with some very cool colours posters for the film.

The booklet is a typically excellent one from Indicator. It opens with an essay by Dolores Tierney, which looks at the inspirations for the film, its restoration and reemergence.  It is lavishly illustrated with stills and promotional materials. Up next is a fascinating 1967 interview with Monti, which also gives a great overview (updated for the booklet) of her career. There’s a welcome inclusion of a biography of director Rene Cardona taken from the Dictionary of Mexican Film Directors. Equally welcome are extracts from Doyle Greene’s 2005 book, Mexploitation Cinema: A Critical History of Mexican Vampire, Wrestler, Ape-Men and Similar Films, 1957-1977, which focuses on Cardona’s luchadoras films, including The Bat Woman. Another excellent archival piece on Mexican wrestling films closes out the booklet, this one by Andrew Coe from a 1987 edition of Film Comment.

Indicator continue their excellent releases of classic Mexican films with an outstanding edition of The Bat Woman. The film is, despite its flaws, an entertaining feature, spearheaded by stars Monti and Canedo as the heroine and villain, and Indicator’s disc is first-class with a brilliant commentary, three insightful interviews and one of their best and most informative booklets yet.


The Bat Woman – Indicator
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