I think “jaw-dropping” is the only apt description for movies likeHerbert Tevos’ Mesa of Lost Women (1952) or ‘s The Wild World of Batwoman (1966): categories like camp, cult, et. al. simply cannot do them justice. 366 readers are, of course, familiar with Ormond and Warren as two z-grade (cough) filmmakers; that category fits for virtually everything the two produced.
While Mesa of Lost Women may lack the feverish WTF element of Ormond’s later Ed‘s sweet little opus, Plan 9 From Outer Space, even compete with Ormond’s Mesa for title of worst film of all time? Of course, as the Medveds fancy themselves Christian critics, they might have been biased in not granting the title of “worst director of all time” to fellow fanatic Ormond; giving that award to our favorite transvestite director, to be frank, turned out to be an unintentional blessing for St. Edward D. Wood, Jr. (and to us)., it is, as per the norm with this filmmaker, mind-numbingly godawful. How godawful is it? It’s so godawful that the first time I saw it, I immediately wondered whether those endlessly annoying Medved boys ever saw it. How could little
Still, every weird movie lover owes it to himself or herself to see these masterstrokes of trash. While only Mesa is considered “horror” per se, both are possessed with the zany queerness of the season and should perfectly serve any Halloween gathering.
Mesa of Lost Women stars Charlie Chaplin‘s Kid and the chrome dome of Uncle Fester. Herbert Tevos’ script is narrated by , and the opening is priceless: “Strange is the monstrous assurance of this race of puny bipeds with overblown egos; the creature who calls himself ‘Man.’ He believes he owns the earth and every living thing on it exists only for his benefit. Yet, how foolish he is. In the continuing war for survival between man and the hexapods, only an utter fool would bet against the insect.” Talbot’s narration is utterly pointless, except for that fact that occasionally, and weirdly, he seems to be speaking directly to the actors—who then strain to hear what he is saying., somewhere between the golden locks of
There is no actual mesa of lost women, only Tarantella (Tandra Quinn) and Coogan as stock mad scientist Dr. Aranya (that’s Spanish for spider, someone tells us) seeking to create a “super female spider with a thinking and reasoning brain; a creature that may someday control the world—subject to my will.” Yes, Dr. Aranya is creating spider women, spider dwarves, and spider puppets. Naturally, Bland Hero objects (“It’s monstrous!”) Apparently, the production ran out of financing, original director Tevos quit, a few extra dollars were raised, and Ormond was brought in (his wife assisted on editing what she called the lousiest film ever made). With an almost zero budget, there’s frequent, unexplained intercuts of a dwarf on the rocks. Tarantella, having no fangs, holds her fingers up to her mouth to show us she’s a spider, for real. She dances to flamenco guitar music, arousing all the boys except Bland Hero, who knows her for the spider bitch that she is and shoots her dead in a cafe. The patrons are shocked, but Bland Hero tries to tell them about Dr. Aranya’s evil plan. Sigh; nobody believes him. So, Bland Hero kidnaps the lot, which includes a proverb-spewing Asian, and takes them on a plane to spider island. Oh, and Tarantella isn’t dead, but she’s gonna die, along with Dr. Spider, shortly after we finally see the rubber spider. Don’t be sad, however, because as the film reminds us, “there’s a time to live and a time to die.”
If you want to know the rest of the story,and you should go watch it.
The Wild World of Batwoman is a no-budget romp from Warren, starring Katherine Victor as the superhero Batwoman, who isn’t a superhero. Who is she? That’s never quite explained. She wears a black mask, stilettos, and has a tattoo on her boobies and disciples: batgirls who are dedicated to Batwoman and to fighting against evil with all sincerity. Only, they can’t fight. They can dance, however (in bikinis and wrist radios), and do plenty of that, in cafes, swimming pools, and beaches.
Batwoman’s nemeses are Dr. Neon and a masked phantom named Rat Fink (it was released the same year as Rat Phink a Boo Boo). Fink hangs out in a cave and has thugs who like to chain up the batgirls (cue G-rated fetishism). They both have colorful thugs, including a hunchback who makes faces at the camera and a mustachioed pervert who dances like he has epilepsy. Eager to put the batgirls in cages, they slap on fake beards and feed the girls happy pills (so they’ll dance–one even dances her way out of the cage after Batwoman frees her). Batwoman herself prefers chocolate milk. It’s frenetically paced with subplots galore—each one more moronic than the last. There’s a deadly hearing-aid, which, combined with Cobalt 52 (?), has atomic potential (?!?). For the Scooby-Do finale, there’s a cloning machine and a chase scene that looks like it must have been produced for a junior high school play. Yes, the villain is unmasked in this zig-zag, threadbare production that was briefly retitled She Was a Hippie Vampire because DC Comics sued (and lost). Thankfully, the title was restored. Not so thankfully, the only version available online is by , which, as usual, zaps a lot of the fun out of it. No worries; Rhino Video produced a DVD with both the MST3K and the uncut original on the flip side.‘s
Mesa of Lost Women and The Wild World of Batwoman make for a double-feature of pure candy corn heaven.