Blu Release – 2.5/5
Director – Rene Cardona (Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy, Santo vs. the Strangler)
Starring – Maura Monti (The Vampires, Planet of the Female Invaders), Roberto Canedo (Doctor of Doom, Red Blossoms), and Hector Godoy (She-Wolves of the Ring, House of the Frights)
Release Date – 1968
Rating – 2.5/5
Tagline – “Bold! Noble! Daring! Enchanting! Audacious! Invincible!”
When I was in college I was constantly on the message boards of Upcoming Horror Movies. I’m sure I posted so much there that I pissed a few of the regulars off to some extent. That message board was such a valuable resource for me. I discovered so many amazing films, not just horror, but a vast amount of cult films that I had never heard of before growing up in my small mountain town in West Virginia. It was here that I was introduced to El Santo and Rene Cardona.
While Cardona did not direct all of the El Santo films he did helm several other horror and sci-fi wrestling films in the same vein. A few weeks ago I was browsing the MVD site when I saw that VCI Entertainment was releasing a Cardona double feature on blu. I was curious about this one and reached out to get a review copy. MVD was kind enough to send it over and I couldn’t wait to dig into the first film which was 1968’s The Batwoman.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Batwoman (Monti) who is a well known wrestler and crime fighter in the area. Know one knows her secret identity besides two police detectives but when powerful wrestlers turn up dead they turn to her for help. Through her wrestling connections she soon uncovers a diabolical plan from a scientists who is using spinal fluid from the wrestling to create a Gill Man. **Spoiler Alert**
I was really excited to give this one a spin. Seeing a Cardona film with a Batwoman character that wasn’t authorized to use mixed with wrestling and a little sci-fi mayhem sounded like something I needed in my life. Sadly, the movie was nowhere near as wild as I was hoping for. In fact, I found myself very underwhelmed by it. It was a fun idea that did not translate well from paper to film.
The acting in this one is uneven and not that entertaining. Monti is gorgeous, even while wearing the Batwoman mask, but her performance was not that fun or entertaining. Some of the other characters, like the scientist, was a little more fun to watch but there was times where the scene was extremely flat. The story for this one pulls in a lot of different things but doesn’t really explore each aspect to it’s fullest. The scientists working on the Gill Man from spinal fluid should have been a major part of the story. Instead, we watch Batwoman wrestling most of the movie was which not as fun as it sounds. It gets old rather quickly resulting in a very monotonous movie.
Finally, the film has some really cheesy practical effects that I enjoyed but the death scenes are very underwhelming. I wasn’t expecting a lot from the death scenes considering the film is a no budget flick from the 60s but I was hoping for something a little more fun. Overall, The Batwoman was not as fun or as wild as I was expecting. It had some cool moments but nothing that I will want to revisit.
The Panther Women
Director – Rene Cardona (La Llorona, Doctor of Doom)
Starring – Ariadne Welter (The Devil’s Hand, Bloody Sea), Elizabeth Campbell (The Phantom Gunslinger, She-Wolves in the Ring), and Tongolele (Isle of the Snake People, The King of the Neighborhood)
Release Date – 1967
Rating – 3/5
A few weeks ago I was browsing the MVD website when I saw that they were handling the blu release of a Rene Cardona double feature for VCI Entertainment. I was really interested in this release especially for The Batwoman. Sadly, I was not a fan of that flick when I was able to check it out which didn’t leave high hopes for the second film in the set. However, The Panther Women really surprised and the story was just as wild as I had hoped The Batwoman to be. I want to once again thank MVD for sending this one over for review.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of female wrestlers who are tasked with finding the people or thing responsible for a series of murders. However, what they soon uncover is that a Satanic cult is behind these murders who are panther women and lead by an evil witch. **Spoiler Alert**
I went into this one expecting a mess of a film like The Batwoman but I was really surprised by how wild and well put together this one was. I have a huge soft spot for cults and seeing a Mexican lucha flick with werepanthers and witches in a cult really sold the film for me.
The acting in this one is a little flat like The Batwoman. I think it was a style of the time mixed with regional traditions but the cast is very underwhelming. Some of the characters are a little more entertaining than others but they are still generally flat. The story for this one has a lot going on and unlike The Batwoman we get to see and explore each aspect of it. Maybe Cardona had producers more hands on with The Batwoman due to it’s title character but The Panther Women is put together better and far more entertaining. With that being said, the lazy acting and dialogue heavy scenes does make the film feel a lot longer than it actually is.
Finally, the film has some fun moments like the undead cult members and the female wrestling. However, if you are looking for blood and gore you will be very disappointed. Overall, The Panther Women really surprised me. It’s not going to be for everyone but if you are a fan of 1960’s lucha libra movies then I highly recommend snagging this weird horror flick. It’s well worth a watch.