10 Weirdest Batman Ripoffs Of All Time

Zinger Key Points
  • The list includes a Bob Hope parody of the Batman TV show in a sketch on one of his television specials.
  • Also, Turkish ripoff in which Batman happily dispatches villains by shooting them.

“The Batman,” the latest installment in the long-running “Batman” franchise, arrives in U.S. theaters on March 4 via AT&T’s T Warner Bros. unit.

For those who are unable to secure tickets for this weekend’s premiere screenings, there are more than a few unreasonable facsimiles to fill the gap. Here are 10 of the weirdest Batman ripoffs that ever tumbled out of the cinematic Batcave.

“Batman Dracula” (1964): Andy Warhol directed and produced this avant-garde work, starring underground filmmaker and performance artist Jack Smith playing both Bob Kane’s Caped Crusader and Bram Stoker’s vampire. The film was shot guerrilla-style across the rooftops of Manhattan and on the public beaches in Long Island.

While the executives at the Campbells Soup Co. CPB had no trouble with Warhol borrowing the label of their Tomato Soup product for his artwork, the lawyers at DC Comics were unhappy with his borrowing of the Batman character for this film, which was screened in Warhol’s art exhibitions. The full two-hour “Batman Dracula” is considered a lost film, although some footage has been recovered.

“James Batman” (1966): The Philippines film industry has churned out several films that cheerfully ripped off the TV series “Batman” – and this romp went one further by bringing in another 1960s pop culture icon, James Bond

Comic actor Dolphy played both 007 and Batman in a no-budget, high-nonsense caper that offers some genuinely funny moments, especially when Batman is eating lunch and wipes his mouth on Robin’s cape. For Dolphy, 1966 was a high-profile year – not only did he star in this film, but he was also the opening act for the Beatles during their concert engagement in Manila.

“Bob Hope’s First Batman Sketch” (1966): In the wake of the popularity of the TV show, Bob Hope decided to offer a parody of its comic book style in a sketch on one of his television specials.

In this sketch, Hope plays the villain known as Lobsterman – he sleeps in a giant clamshell and wears a crustacean costume with a giant claw. Batman got a sex-change operation and Martha Raye showed up in a modified version of the Adam West costume – Hope referred to her as “Batgirl,” to her surprise.

The sketch begins at the 11:40 mark on this YouTube video:

“The Wild World of Batwoman” (1966): Budget-challenged filmmaker Jerry Warren offered a distaff version of the Caped Crusader, with the titular crimefighter uneasily assisted by a bevy of Batgirls who seem to spend more time go-go dancing than maintaining law and order.

Katherine Victor, who played the title role, would recall that the film was so cheaply made that she had to create her own costume, although she wound up looking like a low-rent dominatrix. The money Warren saved on production values wound up being spent on attorneys’ fees – DC Comics sued him for copyright infringement, and the case was settled out of court.

“The Batwoman (La Mujer Murciélago)” (1968): Another Batwoman? This time, Mexican filmmaker Rene Cardona focused on a female superhero who investigates a mad scientist that kidnaps wrestlers and uses their spinal fluid to create a bipedal amphibious monster called the Gill Man.

Italian-born Mexican actress Maura Monti wears one of the briefest bat-costumes in the genre’s history, and the film has plenty of the Lucha Libre-style wrestling featured in the joyfully schlocky Mexican films of the era. Unlike Warren, the producers of this film never bothered to show this in U.S. theaters, thus keeping it off DC Comics’ radar.

“Bat Pussy” (1970): This X-rated film is one of the most mysterious productions ever made – there is no record of it ever being screened and no data on who created it. The film was discovered in the late 1990s by filmmaker Mike McCarthy among 200 boxes of discarded porno films in a back room of a defunct adult cinema in Memphis.

And what a discovery it was! Widely regarded as the worst pornographic film ever made, “Bat Pussy” has the eponymous heroine finding her way into the bedroom of a decidedly unattractive couple who insult each other while speaking in frequently indecipherable Dixie accents. The film’s failure as erotic entertainment has been compensated by its unintentional humor value, and it has since emerged as an unexpected cult movie comedy classic.

“Bedmen” (1973): The zany genre of Turkish ripoffs of Hollywood flicks detoured into Gotham City with this bizarre riff on the genre. In this film, Batman and Robin hang out in strip clubs when they aren’t fighting a Blofeld-style villain (complete with bald head and a cat to be petted).

The film has significant continuity problems – Batman and Robin’s capes appear and disappear without warning – and Batman happily dispatches villains by shooting them.

“Bob Hope’s Second Batman Sketch” (1989): The ski-nosed comic returned to Gotham City on the coattails of the Tim Burton film, playing the Jack Nicholson version of the Joker while reeling off his trademark one-liners. (“I would have stopped by sooner, but I stopped by to visit with Noriega – you know, one joker to another.”)

British actor Michael Crawford, fresh from his “Phantom of the Opera” triumph on Broadway, was Batman while John Forsythe was costumed as Superman and Morgan Fairchild was Lois Lane.

“Batman: Dead End” (2003): Aspiring indie filmmaker Sandy Collora sought to raise his visibility via this faux-trailer that imagined a potential new installment in the Caped Crusader’s cinematic exploits.

The $30,000 film created a sensation when it was screened at the San Diego Comic-Con, and no less a figure than Kevin Smith dubbed Collora’s short “possibly the truest, best Batman movie ever made.” Collora made another faux-trailer that paired Batman and Superman, but Hollywood never came calling for his services. Collora’s only feature-length film was the obscure 2010 indie work “Hunter Prey” that was partially funded through crowdsourcing.

“Batman Maybe” (2012): Actor-filmmaker Wesley Freitas channeled his inner Carly Rae Jepsen to imagine a post-“The Dark Knight Rises” Batman getting back into his groove via the “Call Me Maybe” earworm.

Freitas performs the song in the John Blake character, while award-winning indie film actor Russ Russo plays the morose Bruce Wayne and his happily dancing Batman alter ego.

Photo: A scene from "The Batwoman," courtesy of Cinema Tropical.

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Posted In: EntertainmentNewsGeneral10 WeirdestAndy WarholBatmanBeatlesBob HopeComedyfranchisemoviesThe Batman
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