BAT PUSSY Bounces Onto Blu-Ray, Tramples Our Libidos

For certain cinephiles, there’s a sacred joy in wading deep into the muck and mire of trash cinema to emerge — triumphant — with a story to tell. Chalk it up to the deeply satisfying thrill of stumbling upon something wild and weird, exchanging notes with fellow travelers, and basking in the validation of the experience. The primo fodder for these bonding rituals are the kinds of movies so unusual, astoundingly inept or bugfuck absurd they must be seen to be believed.

Bat Pussy hits all the marks.

The history of Bat Pussy is fittingly strange and obscure, though not unfamiliar to dedicated schlock scholars. Discovered in the storeroom of a Memphis, Tennessee adult theater and later unleashed into the world by cult film heroes Something Weird Video, Bat Pussy is purportedly the first X-rated parody film, and one with origins shrouded in mystery. Though definitively a product of the South in the early ’70s, the exact date and location of filming is a matter of debate, and the colorful degenerates involved in its production remain unidentified.

Nearly fifty odd years later, with the inescapable superhero mania engulfing us, the ubiquity of porn parodies, and The Disaster Artist heralding a new era of oddball film worship, Bat Pussy taps right into the cultural zeitgeist. Simply put, there’s never been a better time for a Bat Pussy revival. Fortuitously, Something Weird have teamed up with the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) for a brand-new blu-ray release, boasting a new 2K scan of the only surviving 16mm theatrical print. Now, a whole new audience can join in the speculation and spectacle surrounding Bat Pussy, turn to their neighbor and ask: What did I just watch?

The plot of Bat Pussy — impressively threadbare even by porn standards — centers on boorish yokels Buddy and Sam, a couple working through some sticky issues in their relationship. They hop in the sack for an afternoon romp, and Buddy suggests staging a sexy photoshoot to sell the resulting images to a girlie mag. This gets the attention of local hero Bat Pussy, who resolves to crash their smutty party to preserve the integrity of her beloved city. Bat Pussy (alias: Dora Dildo) susses out nefarious activity through decidedly unorthodox means: her “twat begins to twitch,” a sixth sense that’s more Spider-Man than Caped Crusader, but given everything else about this movie, it’s hardly surprising the filmmakers weren’t concerned with keeping their comic book references straight.

To be blunt, Bat Pussy is exceptionally, peerlessly excruciating. It’s a fleshy, unsightly Groundhog Day of torturous porn purgatory that — at just under 60 minutes long — feels like a grueling trial stretched across several lifetimes. The actors (a generous term) playing Buddy and Sam can barely form sentences, frequently slurring their words, and spend the duration of the feature rolling around naked while engaged in a bewildering circular argument concerning his womanizing and the integrity of her “washtub” genitals — an area of her body he frequently disparages as, alternately, a “son of a bitch” and a “motherfucker.” This cycle repeats ad nauseam. As they give each other a perfunctory groping while bickering and howling like pained hyenas, they both manage to land quite a few zingers, like this snappy exchange:

Buddy: That’s the biggest goddamn pussy I’ve seen in my life.

Sam: Well, my lawyer’s not complaining!

It’s not clear whether this comic relief is intentional or an attempt at dirty-talk that falls hilariously flat, but it nevertheless provides plenty of fodder for late-night quote-alongs with friends. It also comes as a merciful distraction in the face of the perplexingly unarousing approximation of sex Bat Pussy asks its audience to endure. To begin with, the two stars inspire little passion; they’re sloppily inebriated and physically unappealing even by liberal ’70s porn standards. Buddy is especially an eyeful with crudely traced tattoos scattered across his body in unlikely areas (including one on his blindingly white ass) and a perpetually-limp penis. It flops around tragically for the duration of the movie, a source of this writer’s ongoing despair, and an apt metaphor for the flaccidity of the entire production. Not surprisingly, no penetration ever takes place, just the aimless, unconsummated tumbling of bodies, an off-putting sight compounded by numerous close-up shots of roughly-handled genitals, bad hair-dos, and the aforementioned insult-hurling.

Fortunately, another welcome reprieve from the disagreeable skin circus arrives in the form of the titular Bat Pussy, who first appears by way of jarring-jump accompanied by William Dozier-esque narration recalling the 1960s Batman television series. The Narrator drops some exposition about Bat Pussy’s cause and is never heard again, which is somewhat disappointing, as his voice lends a naive charm to the movie and gives it more shape as an actual parody. A crudely hand-drawn sign denoting “BAT PUSSY HEADQUARTERS” adorns the wall of our hero’s domicile, so we know that, although it looks like a dump, we’ve actually penetrated the inner sanctum of her Batcave. As Bat Pussy springs into action, donning her cape and cowl, she delivers what may be the best introductory line in celluloid history:

“God damn, I feel like a crime is about to be committed!

My secret twat tells me somebody’s about to shoot a fuck movie in my holy Gotham City!”

With this triumphant declaration, some forward momentum starts to build, but it promptly screeches to a halt as Bat Pussy takes ages to get changed into her costume (which looks hastily handmade by grade-schoolers), unleashing more choice words for “fuck movies” before finally departing on her space hopper.

Bat Pussy’s presence accounts for very little screen time —- maybe ten minutes at most. While it’s not exactly a tour-de-force performance, it’s a genuinely amusing and welcome distraction from the tribulation of Buddy and Sam’s bedroom antics. Glimpses of her journey from Bat Pussy HQ, traversing the dry, southern countryside while putting a stop to petty crime along the way, periodically interrupt the main story until both narratives merge when she finally arrives at the couple’s apartment, where things alarmingly devolve into orgiastic disaster.

After a certain point, once the strange, nightmare logic of the film settles on one’s psyche, it almost transmogrifies into surreal performance art. In many respects, Bat Pussy more closely resembles a stage play than a film. Apart from glimpses of an itinerant Bat Pussy interpolated throughout, most of the action takes place in one room. A noticeable echo punctuates Buddy’s hollering, and towards the end of the movie, the actor mistakenly addresses Bat Pussy as “Batwoman” several times before being corrected by Sam. At various points, coughing, belching and even called-out directions to the actors can be heard from somewhere off-camera. It all lends the proceedings an ambiance and sense of unpredictability that often characterize live theater, and the drawn-out, monotonous cycle of sex and sniping lean hard toward the theater of the absurd. Bat Pussy could be the tedious, nauseatingly heterosexual misfit cousin of Flaming Creatures or The Cockettes.

The most fascinating thing about Bat Pussy, however, is how proudly it stands in opposition to itself; it’s ostensibly a porno, but really functions as a prescriptive text against pornography — at the very least, it’s not turning anyone on to the pleasures of the flesh. In fact, it rockets the niche of unintentionally unerotic porn to dizzying heights, entering the pantheon of great anti-porn, where it sits beside Ed Wood’s late-period softcore excursions with director Joseph F. Robertson (libido-killing classics like Love Feast, Mrs. Stone’s Thing and Nympho Cycler). Paradoxically still, it serves as a testament to the art of good pornographic filmmaking insofar as it underscores how utterly unphotogenic sex can be without a lot of finessing. Pornography is a craft; it takes skill, carefully selective camera angles, and lighting to make visually-appealing porn, and Bat Pussy defiantly flouts all of that.

It’s difficult to gauge who or what the MIA filmmakers of Bat Pussy were really aiming for with this project. It’s doubtful even the most socially backwards raincoat brigade in the sleaziest porn theater in the country would find much to get their rocks off in this movie, and it fails on virtually every level as pornography and as parody. Nevertheless, these are the things that earned its reputation as a singular oddity in the realm of sexploitation, so maybe its creators got the last laugh after all. Sure, Bat Pussy may be a technically inept, arousal-repelling mess, but it’s also a genuinely fascinating time capsule of regional filmmaking, and any fan of oddball trash cinema owes themselves at least one viewing of this strange, cinematic car crash. Something Weird and AGFA deliver a remarkable 2K restoration with their new blu-ray release, presenting a clear view of every fleshy detail while leaving enough grain and grit to maintain the appropriate low-rent aesthetic.

Bat Pussy is banned on Amazon, but you can order it through our friends at DiabolikDVD.

 

The Dirty Details:

– New 2K scan from the only surviving 16mm theatrical print

– Commentary track with Something Weird’s Lisa Petrucci and Tim Lewis, and the AGFA team

– Crime-smut trailers and shorts from the Something Weird vault

– Liner notes by Mike McCarthy, the savior of Bat Pussy, and Something Weird’s Lisa Petrucci

– Bonus movie: Robot Love Slaves (1971), a new 2K scan from an original theatrical print

– Reversible cover art with illustration by Johnny Ryan (Prison Pit)

Adrianna Gober

Adrianna Gober

Adrianna Gober is a Lehigh Valley-based writer and musician. She loves record collecting, comic books, and all things schlocky, campy and kitsch.
Adrianna Gober
Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!