Saturday, May 3, 2014

THE GOLDEN BAT (1966)

Sometimes, you get dismayed by how much trash shows up in the trashier genres.  As you sit through endless slasher sequels and the coming of mumblegore, you wonder if you should maybe be watching David Lean or HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY instead of wasting your life.  But then you see something like THE GOLDEN BAT and you pump your fist and say proudly, "I should totally be wasting my life!"


One word review: incredible.  Many word review: it seems appropriate to watch this on a weekend when droves will hit malls to watch a surely-disappointing SPIDER MAN sequel.  THE GOLDEN BAT was made for perhaps a tenth of the SPIDEY catering budget and it shows in the shoddy effects and LOL-meriting costumes.  But this movie also shows its heart and melts our hearts with its unrelenting devotion to fun.


Earth's got a lotta problems.  For one thing, there's this planet called Icarus that is heading right for it/us!  But don't worry, the U.N. has commissioned a group to save us.  Remember, this is 1966 and it was still possible to depict the U.N. as planet-stopping saviors.  But not even the U.N. can stop both a planet and the evil alien Nazo, who shows up in a radical giant drill that looks a bit like a more convincing Evil Bong.


One imagines that Nazo bought the pimped-out space drill to compensate for his own physical inadequacies.  He kinda looks like an aardvark costume made by a blind person with a GWAR claw inexplicably attached to one arm.  


Stereotypes galore get shattered in THE GOLDEN BAT because the baddie looks non-menacing and unintimidating.  But, conversely, we get a hero who mixes a very villain-esque look (skull-face) with non-heroic elements (as in, his main weapon is a BATON—yes, the same thing majorettes use when they lead parades).


I dug the breadth of monsters on parade here.  Nazo's too lazy and goofy-looking to do his own dirty work, so he subcontracts to a whole gaggle of weirdos.  Best name award goes to Keloid, but for looks, I'd pick Jackal.  His absurdly-overgroomed beard and haircut contrast splendidly with his fuzzy spacesuit with tracksuit striping.


This is mostly a kid affair, so we don't get a lot in terms of GOLDEN girls, but sometimes the hottie alarm gets triggered.  


Okay, anyway, the plot is Nazo menacing the Earth and also this runaway planet menacing it, too.  The U.N. action team flies their flying car to the recently-resurfaced Atlantis.  There, they're attacked, but manage to awaken the Golden Bat, a baton-wielding hero who's promised to save Earth from peril.  


From there, we just get cup after cup of delicious insanity continuously poured down our throats.  If I had to pick one element of this film to love forever, it would be the laughing.  Jackal laughs like a choking infant and it's glorious.  Nazo doesn't have a mouth, so he has laugh using his whole teddy bear-ish body.  But Best Laugh honors go to the Golden Bat himself.  He frequently unleashes this blood-curdling witch cackle while shaking his shoulders and, by proxy, his baton.  It's glorious.  It looks like a skeleton in a luchadore outfit is conducting an orchestra.  


All the laughter in the film is easily shared by the audience when you see scenes like the fight on top of a moving airship, complete with lots of jumping and baton strikes and no one's clothes even rustling slightly in the breeze.


Plus the Golden Bat's mighty battle cry is "Receive the baton of justice!"  And there are approximately a jillion other pleasures to be unearthed here.  I'm honestly pretty shocked that this doesn't have more of a reputation.  It never slows down and just stays committed to lunacy throughout its reasonable running time.  For lovers of everything from BATMAN to GODZILLA, this is your next sure thing.


RATING: 7

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