From the depths of the internet the Infernal Brains have returned again to discuss the wonderful adventures of Batman and James Bond in the Philippines! Yes, it is James Batman, a film so amazing it starred two of the most popular figures worldwide, both played by the same actor! Totally unauthorized, totally crazy, totally fun, James Batman is an amazing film that is a shining example of Filipino pulp cinema of the 1960s. We also get into other Filipino Batman movies (of which there are many, but far less that survive!) and some history on Dolphy, the comedian who brought both James Bond and Batman to life at the same time. There was a bit of audio distortion at times due to a bad connection, but not so bad you can’t hear the conversation (apologies!)
As usual, we have a whole Batcave full of ways to listen:
Watch in slideshow form:
Check out the Infernal Brains Facebook Page!
Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09
Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10
Daigoro vs Goliath – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 11
Down the Rabbit Hole with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 12
Through the Looking Glass with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 13
Starman – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 14
The Brainiac – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 15
The Secret of Magic Island – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 16
Space Ladies from Outer Space – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 17
Cat-Beast – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 18
Rocco, Ang Batang Bato
That vampire is paralyzed with shock at the idiocy he’s witnessing!
What a great movie for children! In the opening minute there is a woman being molested in her sleep by a spectral god, having an orgasm because, why not? Then her parents are gunned down less than two minutes later by a ruthless local warlord. An annoying fat kid then bloats up the running time until we finally get the werewolves, vampires, and monsters. Kids love violence and rape and annoying fat kids, and Boy God aka Stone Boy aka Rocco, Ang Batang Bato gives the children what they want!
If you aren’t familiar with Boy God, it’s a Filipino childrens’ film that was imported to the US and given an annoying dub and multiple titles. This lead to some confusion when attempting to track down rare films in the days before the internet. As far as I can tell, both titles are the exact same English dub and cut. I’ve not seen the original Filipino version, but the names in Tagalog do not seem to correspond at all with the English ones. I do want to see how the Filipino actor pretending to be the mad German scientist Dr. Mengele actually is supposed to be Dr. Mengele, and if he has a German accent. The gods all seem inspired from Clash of the Titans and similar films, as they are all Greek-looking. The vampires are more animalistic, like half-bat monsters, and Janice is dressed up as a Filipino komiks superheroine. So there is a healthy mixture of influences.
You can probably tell from my tone that I don’t really care for this film that much. The kid is among the most annoying I’ve seen in film, the most annoying child I’ve seen in a Filipino flick, and probably on my top ten list of most annoying children of all time. (That is a list with a heavy amount of Kennys!) But beyond that, the fantasy elements are pretty cool. They are all practical effects, and they are the lovable ridiculous practical effects that everyone rags on but secretly miss. Effects with heart. So I can’t hate on Boy God too much. Just the star, and the unfortunately decision to not kill the child off and replace him with someone not terrible.
Director J. Erastheo Navoa helmed a few other genre flicks, some have a bit written about them, and some are complete mysteries. His biggest is probably Darna at Ding, but there is also Tikboy and Pamboy and Super Islaw and the Flying Kids. The latter got a revival in the tv series Super Inggo, Super Inggo being the son of Super Islaw and a supervillainess. Movie superheroine Super Inday played Super Inggo’s fiance, Super Inday had her own movie in the 80s that was remade in 2010 called Super Inday and the Golden Bibe.
Despite this film being rather well-known among weird world cinema collectors, it doesn’t have that much written about it online, so enjoy the more detailed plot synopsis review below!
Alyas Batman en Robin
Directed by Tony Y. Reyes
Written by Joey de Leon and Tony Y. Reyes
The Philippines returns to prove nobody does Batman like they do! Batman continues to be a campy caped crusader, and all the familiar elements are here – the classic villains, evil doing, and saving the day. The stakes may be lower, but there is still wrongs to be righted. And Alyas Batman en Robin showed everymen becoming superheroes long before Mark Millar stole it for Kick-Ass. I’m on to you, Millar!
If you remember the overview of the Filipino Batman films I did at the beginning of the James Batman review, then you’ll remember Alyas Batman en Robin from 1993 is the most recent. So here it is! Part musical, part campy, part guys beating up people, and part a love story, Alyas Batman en Robin tries to be a lot of things. Let’s find out if it succeeds…
But first, the Roll Call!
Directed and screenplay by Artemio Marquez
Story by Pepito Vera Perez
James Batman is both a comic parody and wonderful homage to both the 1960s Batman TV series and the James Bond films. Legendary Filipino comedian Dolphy plays both title characters, as they team up to take down the ultimate terrorist organization, who has set its sights on conquering the world (typical!) Because this film is somewhat rare, you’re gonna get a long infodump in the beginning, and a long review as well. And if you don’t like to read, there will be a bajillion pictures and even a movie clip!
The Philippines have a long history of making Batman films that are completely unauthorized (along with a whole slew of other superheroes.) James Batman isn’t even the first Batman! 1965’s Alyas Batman at Robin has that distinction. It featured Bob Soler as Batman, Lou Salvador Jr. as Robin, and actress Nova Villa. James Batman was next in 1966. 1967 gave us Batman Fights Dracula in color, featuring Jing Abalos as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Ramon D’Salva, and Vivian Lorrain. (Batman seems to fight vampires a lot).
There was a trilogy of Batwoman and Robin films that began in 1972 with Batwoman and Robin. They starred female action star Virginia (aka Virginia Gaerlan aka Virginia Aristorenas) from Revenge of Lady Fighter as Batwoman, her real life son Robin Aristorenas played Robin, and Jun Aristorenas/Junar (Virginia’s husband) produced and directed. Tony Cayado took over directing duties for the sequel Batwoman and Robin Meet the Queen of the Vampires, but by 1973’s Johnny Joker, Jun Aristorenas was directing again and even starred as Johnny Joker. Virginia and Robin were back as well, along with Merle Fernandez as Catwoman, Freddie Webb as Spider Web, and Palito as Lastikman.
UPDATE: 2 stills from Johnny Joker can be found here. Warning! The stills will make you more angry the film is lost!
Fight Batman Fight! is a 1973 joint starring Victor Wood as Batman, Lotis Key as Catwoman, Rod Navarro as Joker, Pinky Montilla as Bat Girl, and Roderick Paulate as Robin. It also has an awesome-looking cardboard box robot. The final Batman flick is 1991’s Alyas Batman en Robin, which you will find out more about soon. Sadly, of all these wonderful films, only James Batman and Alyas Batman en Robin still exist in a watchable form. It is possible that there are vhs tapes of these surviving somewhere, but the original prints are long gone and most of the masters were destroyed at some point during the various political uprisings along with countless other films.
James Batman stars Dolphy, one of the most famous comedians from the Philippines ever. Born in 1928 as Rodolfo Vera Quizon, he began his career during the Japanese occupation at the age of 17 doing stage work. Two years later he made his film debut, playing mostly bit roles. After some exposure in radio, he began headlining films in 1952, and also began his long time partnership with fellow comedian Panchito (who would do his own Batman movie turn as Paenguin in Alyas Batman en Robin.) He has continued to work for decades, even gaining modern fame for his 2001 film Markova: Comfort Gay. Never married, Dolphy has 17 children from his five long term relationships, including several who have also entered show business. His spoof films covered almost every possible genre and most popular film series at the time. They include Tansan the Mighty (1962), Dolpinger (1965), Scarface at Al Capone: Espiya sa Ginto (1965), Alias Popeye (1966), Captain Barbell Boom! (1973), Da Best in da West (1984), and dozens more. Sadly, many of his films are considered lost, but thanks to sheer volume there are a lot still around.
Batman and Robin are presented just as campy as the TV series lays them out to be. But the jokes have to go further for this film, so we get random sight gags such as a machine that delivers food in the Batcave obviously being a guy in a box thanks to the all-too-human hand that comes out of it (is that Alfred???) and let’s not forget the random scene where Robin shows off how if you put a light bulb in his mouth it glows. Yeah. Music guy Caroling Cruz is not afraid to just rip the Batman theme directly, further cementing this as a bizarre fever dream episode of the series.
Discount Puppet Explosion 411 – Two teams battle by reviewing awful films for fabulous prizes or horrible non-prizes. In this episode, Team Jawesome reviews the Filipino film Biokids and gets caught up in its awfulness. Will this be enough for Team Jawesome to win this round of the Discount Puppet Explosion 411 competition?
Visit us on Youtube!
Revenge of Lady Fighter
“Only a hurricane can freeze the fury of her fist!”
Revenge of Lady Fighter is really well done once the fight sequences get going. In fact, the fight scenes and quality are so good the film actually made me angry. Not at the film, but because the team behind Revenge of Lady Fighter was also the team behind Batwoman and Robin and Batwoman and Robin Meet the Queen of the Vampires, two films considered holy grail lost films of Filipino cinema (though Tony Cayado directed Meet the Queen of the Vampires). Before watching Lady Fighter, I assumed these would be dumb comedies with little to no action sequences, along the lines of Alyas Batman en Robin. Instead, now I am picturing them as a fun-filled action romps, making the fact I will probably never see them stinging even more.
Director Jun Aristorenas was born Juanito Aristorenas in 1933 in the Philippines. By the late 1950s he was a regular on the Filipino vaudeville circuit (known as Bodabil), which lead to a few walk-on roles in films. By 1965, he was a headliner, starring in flicks such as Dugong Tigre. In 1967, he started his own production company – Junar Productions – Junar being his nickname and the name he is credited as director of this flick.
Jun Aristorenas was nominated as best actor for his performance in Elias, Basilio at Sisa (1972) by the Film Academy of Movie Arts & Sciences (FAMAS). His 1970 film Dimasalang scored him the Rajah Soliman award for Best Director at the 1970 Manila Film Festival. He became a regular in western films such as Johnny West (1966) and Dimasalang, but also starred in other action genres such as war or even samurai films like Samurai Master (1969) and The Samurai Fighters (1969). Cult movie fans might recognize him from She Devils in Chains (1976) Jun Aristorenas continued to act in films up to his death in 2000, his last appearance being 2000’s Pag Oras Mo, Oras Mo Na.
Aristorenas married female action star Virginia (aka Virginia Gaerlan then Virginia Aristorenas) who then starred in several of his films. By the 1970s, Virginia had assumed the mantle of the Action Queen of Filipino Cinema, the successor of 1950’s action queen Celia Fuentes. Virginia debuted in 1971’s Ang Mababangis and started out doing dangerous stunts from the start. She appeared in films such as Bandolera (1972), Apat na Bagwis (1972) – “Three men and a woman, undercover agents, blast the hell out of Devil’s Island”, Kumander Erlinda (1972), and The Panther (1973). Two of their sons, Robin and Junar, also appeared in some of the films. In fact, Robin Aristorenas played Robin in Batwoman and Robin and Batwoman and Robin Meet the Queen of the Vampires along with a long career as a child actor. Virginia has passed on, but I have been unable to find out when and why.
Lady Fighter suffers from being a film of the 1970s and thus has some of the flaws of the era, including long drawn out scenes that would be cut much tighter now. Is someone walking up to a village? Well, we’re gonna see every single step he takes. Yay!!! Uh…