The Best And Worst of 2018

Besides my annual Halloween post, one of the other constants is my year end review of the best and worst in film, music, and books of the year. The only criteria is they had to have been released during the year 2018. In some categories I have put a Best, Worst, and “Surprising” category, which was I felt needed to be noted for whatever unique reason (mainly something I thought would not be good that ended up being wonderful).

So here are my Best (and Worst) of 2018:

Movies

The Best:

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  1. Halloween

My experience with Michael Myers stopped after the first three films (Halloween 3 doesn’t have Myers in it, but is still a creepy awesome film), and the Rob Zombie remakes. I was more of a Freddy Kruger fan growing up. When the news was out that a new Halloween was being made with Jamie Lee Curtis, with the setting 40 years after the original, I had to see this.

One aspect that I enjoy in having some of the original actors replay their roles (such as Rocky Balboa) is that the directors can make them tough, but still give limitations and faults in the characters. Laurie Strode is living in her home isolated pretty much from everyone and has become a hermit of sorts away from her family, preparing for Myers’ return. The film has the classic horror feel to it, without being dated, and Curtis shines throughout the film. The other great thing of the film is one doesn’t have to follow all ten other films in the series to get what’s going on. This has a classic horror feel throughout, and was enjoyable from beginning to end.

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  1. Aquaman

Some people will just hate any movie put out by the DC Universe. I personally liked Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad ,and really enjoyed Justice League-all films that were bashed by critics and fans. I am one of the people that think CG has destroyed a lot of the films, where the director rely on too much of it. However, you know going into Aquaman that there will be plenty of CG- I mean 90% of it is underwater. This is a film that is just fun to watch- there are comical moments, good acting, and great visuals. When you think the scene is going to have tied down language, something happens that kicks the action up again.

Nicole Kidman shows in this film that she is still a wonderful actor, and Jason Momoa has found his character in films. The cast is full, with Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, and Willem Dafoe, all who help make the film exciting and entertaining. The underwater visuals are astonishing. This is a film that reminds me of past summer films, where you just go watch and be amazed, regardless of those critics that want to dissect every plot point.

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  1. Mission Impossible: Fallout

          One would think after 6 movies, this series would get stale (I’m kind of burned out of the Marvel Comics movies, especially The Avengers series-although End Game was great, but had some slow parts to it), but Tom Cruise still creates ways to keep this series fresh with magnificent stunts (which he did himself at age 50, and broke his ankle while filming!) The crew is back for another mission, featuring Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, and the obnoxious Alec Bladwin (in real life and in acting) along with Henry Cavill, who was filming this while doing the Justice League re-shoots. Cavill shows a depth to his character that those who only see him as Superman may be surprised. The basic themes are still here- breathtaking stunts, great fight scenes, creative camera work, and character swerves. Cruise once again shows that one doesn’t need tons of CG in the films to stay with the times. I have always been a Cruise fan and Fallout may be the best in the series.

 

The Worst:

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  1. A Wrinkle In Time

Even though I had problems struggling through the book, I still decided to see how the book would be changed into a film. Although I had my doubts with the casting of people like Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, I decided to be open about the film. I should’ve been opened to what I could have been doing instead of watching this disaster. Not only were most (if not all) the religious aspects of the book taken out (which has major importance in the story), but the other changes of the story were plain awful. I get that sometimes movies change characters and ages (like hair color, etc) but this was almost nothing like the book. Not even Chris Pine’s acting (who is great in the Star Trek and Wonder Woman films) made this enjoyable. His cardboard acting made me wonder how he was talked into this film. Oprah has been viewed as a champion for literature (I’ll keep my views on that silent here), so you’d think she’d have a problem the changes in the film from the book-I’m sure the director would listen to her views. Besides all of the changes made from the novel, nothing could save the bad acting throughout, along with the casting choices, and pathetic special effects.

2018 had some dud movies, like Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence (who needs to stop preaching her politics and spend more time reading scripts after several flops in a row), Samson, and Tomb Raider, but A Wrinkle In Time made me want to time travel back and get the 109 minutes back from my day. This film has it all: bad acting, bad script, and bad effects. The basic plot from the book was taken , kept the names of some characters, and was destroyed to offend book readers and film watchers all at the same time.

 

Surprisingly:

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1.Winchester

This horror film is more psychological in nature about the widow of gun manufacturer William Winchester, who builds a huge mansion after being convinced she see ghosts from people who dies from the firearms. This 1900s story line has wonderful acting by Helen Mirren (who plays the widow Winchester), and was at one time supposed to be a Hammer Film. This is not a gore slasher film, which gets over saturated in the horror genre. If you want something that is a good throw back to earlier days of horror, check this out.

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  1. The Strangers: Prey At Night

This sequel to the 2008 is a fun ride if you like humor added to your slasher films. The story is common- a group of masked strangers attack a trailer park where a family is visiting relatives- but just like the Deadpool movies, the music in the film help make this enjoyable. The film takes two of my favorite songs from the 1980s, by Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler, and put them into key parts of the film where they become almost laughable, but in a good way. I have never seen the 2008 film, but it is not needed to enjoy this entertaining film. This film will be a guilty pleasure for many for years. Sometimes films don’t need a major plot , and just need to get the audience to relax and enjoy. This is one film that does just that.

 

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  1. The Least of These: A Christmas Story and God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

            Sometimes Christian films are just bad. Some religious people will not admit this fact, stating that just because a film is Christian based, means it is a good film. Samson was just awful, and I Can Only Imagine was pretty dull when converted to a movie. This years installment of the God’s Not Dead series brings some nice humor to the story with John Corbett playing a lawyer brother to the preacher in the film, played by David A.R. White. Even though this movie did worse than the other two, it is the second best one, behind the original. This is a more complete film that people need to check out.

The Least of These is a Christmas themed film, based around a homeless woman and her daughter trying to make ends meet during the Christmas season. This is a more darker themed movie (it’s not a Hallmark happy love story), but has some humorous parts and a great overall theme in the film on forgiveness and overcoming odds while keeping faith.

One of the  bright spots of the film is the breakout debut of Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys, whose character plays an important role towards the end of the movie. His scenes are just as good as one of the lead actors G. Michael Nicolosi’s character (who believes he is Santa Claus). The movie may take some searching to find, but it is well worth it if you like holiday films with a faith based story.

 

Books 

The Best : (TIE)

  1. The Boy Is Gonna Rock by Bobby Rock

The current Lita Ford drummer takes his reader through the journey of playing in local bands to major arenas with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. This wonderful read is one of the best music biographies I have read in years, filled with humor, honesty, and regrets on the inner workings of the music business. Rock’s take on why the Invasion band did not reach its expected levels, along with covering his time with the Nelson Brothers and currently with Lita Ford. This book was written by Rock, who shows he has another skill besides drumming. This is a must read for music fans.

 

  1. Death of The Territories by Tim Hornbaker

There are many great wrestling books that have been released, but Hornbaker’s book is the best one this year. Filled with a historical look at how Vince McMahon Jr. went to the many wrestling territories in the 1980s, bought up the major stars, and turned them into household names in the wrestling boom. The book is easy to read, and has information that I never knew to top. Classic wrestling fans should get a copy of this book, because it is an entertaining look at how the territories crumbled. Hornbaker takes the popular theme of classic wrestling, which is all over pod casting right now, and puts it in a nice package that you’d want to read over and over and keep on your shelf.

 

Surprisingly:

1.Creating The Mania by Jon Robinson

Most WWE sponsored books tend to deny the history of the company’s past, along with keeping those interviewed in character at all times. Robinson’s book takes the reader through a year of building up to Wrestlemania, the biggest card in wrestling, and how storylines and the behind the scenes events are created. If you think there is not that much work into putting a wrestling show together, read this book, because it is filled with interviews and stories by wrestlers, production people, writers, and public relation workers that are expected to put on the best show for the company, while working a year on the build up (along with their weekly and daily duties in between). This book is not only wonderfully written, but was a surprise at how honest and behind the scenes Robinson was allowed to get to get his story. This is different than the old WWE books from the past.

READ THE BOOK! SEE THE MOVIE! FROM NOVEL TO FILM VIA 20TH CENTURY-FOX (HARDCOVER EDITION) by Gary A. Smith

 

 

  1. Read The Book! See The Movie! by Gary A. Smith

Gary A. Smith has become one of my favorite movie writers, and his latest is just as well written and researched as his horror film books. His latest deals with novels that were turned into movies by 20th Century Fox. Books such as Dragonwwyck, Anna and the King of Siam, and The Robe that were turned into movies are covered, along with others. I was not sure I’d enjoy this book as much, because it did not deal with horror films, but it still has the things that I love about Smith’s writings; well researched material in which I learn something new on every page, which keeps the pages turning until I am done reading. If you are a film fan , but do not know his work, check out Smith’s writings.

(A future in depth review is coming soon on Smith’s book, but you can find his other books reviewed here, along with my Q&A, in the archives)

 

MUSIC

17th Avenue Revival- The Oak Ridge Boys.

This is a no brainer for me. This is by far the best release of the year in ANY genre. The Oaks have proven not only that they still have the vocal chops in their older years (they are in their 70s) , but have put a new spin on their music, thanks to producer Dave Cobb. This album is filled with an old country/rockabilly take on Gospel songs in the vain of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Johnny Cash. The songs are brief without unnecessary fillers, and contains the classic harmonies that The Oaks have been blessed with throughout the decades. In an era where most of older artists are refusing to bother with releasing new music, instead just relying on the Greatest Hits packages, The Oaks are putting out quality, wholesome entertainment. Michael Buble’s “Love” and Judas Priest’s “Firepower” are my other top picks in the music genre, but if you’re looking for an album where EVERY single track is quality, get 17th Avenue Revival. Just like the title says…..after listening to this, you will be revived!

(An in depth review of 17th Avenue Revival can be found in the archives)

 

Thanks to everyone who have followed my page throughout the year, along with all the writers and publishers who have allowed me to review their books. Hopefully 2019 will be just as great (hopefully greater), and hope everyone has a safe New Year. Now go seek my picks out and tell what you think!

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Book Reviews: Two Books, One Author, and Tons of Horror

Cover photo courtesy of Ingrid Pitt

“Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror; The Complete Career” (McFarland, 2017) by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter, is a nice reference book for the fans of one of horror film’s famous actresses.

Pitt was one of the famous actresses in the Hammer Studios films in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing in films such as 1971’s “Countess Dracula,” and “The House That Dripped Blood,” and 1973’s “The Wicker Man.” She was also known for her role as Carmilla in the famous 1970 Hammer film “The Vampire Lovers,” which was part of the Karnstein Trilogy. She was also in episodes of “Doctor Who” and her voice was heard in one of the James Bond films.

The book is nice because it features not just the author’s writings on the films, but he also takes quotes from other sources by Pitt herself in commenting on some of her films. Pitt also wrote the introduction to the book as well.

Cotter takes the reader through Pitt’s early acting career from her stage roles, her first films, and her appearance in “Doctor Zhivago.” More of her earlier roles including films with Clint Eastwood, until she got major attention for her role as Countess Elizabeth in “Countess Dracula,” based on the legend of Elizabeth Bathory (which I discovered the story in Gary A. Smith’s “Vampire Films of the 1970s,” which is a must have book, also through McFarland). Cotter gives a full cast and crew listings, along with a short summary of the movie, before giving his take on the films. At the end of some of the sections (when needed) is Pitt’s quotes from her time on the set from interviews and other sources. There is a chapter on her television appearances, and her appearances in horror magazines, and her authoring several books. The collection also has some nice black and white photographs throughout from Playbill covers from her stage shows, to ads from her television shows, to on set movie pictures.

I didn’t know much about Pitt’s work before this book, but since reading the book, I have gotten to watch several of her films, including “The House That Dripped Blood” and “Countess Dracula.” I will hopefully seek out her Doctor Who appearances, being a fan of the show. My horror film knowledge of the actresses are limited, namely being a fan of Universal Studios horror films, and not much knowledge of other actresses except Barbara Steele (who I think is great) and Joanna Lumley.

The book is an easy read at 230 pages long. Cotter’s book, much like many of McFarland’s books I have gotten to review, gives a nice collection to an actress who I was not very familiar with, and this book should be added to the collection of movie horror films.

Front cover: Maila Nurmi as the host of The Vampira Show on KABC-TV in Los Angeles, 1954-1955.

Cotter’s second book  looks at some of the many female horror hosts in “Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era (McFarland, 2017).

This encyclopedia format lists the many female hosts, including co hosts, that have been featured in the horror television history, where horror fans would stay up late on weekends to watch on their local access television, which was popular before Cable TV took over. The book covers the hosts who dressed up as vampires, mummys, and even Zombie looking cheerleaders. “Vampira” has a forward by host Penny Dreadful, who also gets her section later in the book, and has many question and answer interviews throughout, not just a listing of the hosts and where they were shown.

The Introduction section has a nice commentary where Cotter links the horror hosts back to the radio days, up to the current list of hosts on Youtube and other online sites. The book covers many hosts from 1970s hosts Doctor Shock and his young daughter Bubbles, to Marilyn The Witch (who appeared on many other television shows like Green Acres, Hart to Hart, and played one of the mothers in the original Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory), to the more famous characters like Elvira and, of course, Vampira.

Cotter’s research is intense, which includes hosts where he could not find any footage or information on, but they are still listed here. He covers hosts that had different actresses play the same person (like Misty Brew), and details a few interesting information about the actresses and how the created their gimmicks.

The Elvira and Vampira sections were a nice read, since everyone my age was a fan (and still is) of Elvira’s Cassandra Peterson, but was uninformed of the way she got her name (rumored to be because of the Oak Ridge Boys’ hit), and the lawsuit on her by Vampira over copyright issues. Cotter mentions that Vampira was the inspiration for Disney’s villain Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, which I never heard before.

This book is cover newer horror hosts, such as Roxsy Tyler, who has a rock and roll look, as opposed to just a vampire character, which became the norm for the female hosts, to Cleveland’s The Mummy and The Monkey host Janet Decay.

Fans of horror and television history would like the easy to read collection Cotter has put together, including the photographs and interviews that is added. It is nice to see that Cotter included former WWE and current Impact Wrestling’s Katarina Waters in the book, who is not only an actress and wrestler, but also has written some short stories in the horror genre. He even includes former Saturday Night Live actress Laraine Newman and her contribution to horror and USA’s Rhonda Shear. Although I hardly consider Shear a horror host, nor had a gimmick of anything horror related. The Newman part (where Cotter throws in a unnecessary jab calling Dan Aykroyd “ovearrated”) and Shear is oddly placed in the book, it does show that Cotter intensely researched his subject.

 

Both review copies were sent courtesy of McFarland Publishing.

Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Movie Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter (McFarland, 2017 ISBN:978-1-4766-6434-7 print and ebook:978-1-4766-2656-7)   can be found at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or ordered at 800-253-2187

 

“Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror” by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter ( McFarland, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4766-7230-4 eISBN: 978-0-7864-6189-9) is available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com and can also be ordered at 800-253-2187, along with their other titles.

DVD Movie Picks You Need To See

The summer season of movies used to be when the big blockbusters would come out. It used to be a major event each summer, but that has changed. Movies put out blockbusters all year long, which can wear thin on some movie goers.  That is why some movies are expected to do well, and fail, or on the other extreme, movies that aren’t expected to do well, perform better than expected that leaves the so called critics scratching their heads. If you are tired of the normal movie trends that are out there right now, try taking these films in account. These are my suggestions on some great films that have been overlooked this past year that are all available for your home watching.

  1. “The Great Wall” (2016). There are not many films that I really like that stars Matt Damon, with the exception of The Bourne films (although I didn’t care for the last one , titled  Jason Bourne), but The Great Wall was a surprisingly good film. Even though this film was viewed as a disappointment at the box office, it still made over $300 Million worldwide (It did well in China).

Damon plays a mercenary in China, who ends up helping soldiers fight against monsters while searching for the secret to making gunpowder. The film has quite a bit of subtitles, due to the Chinese soldiers that they help, but the film was good overall.  Basically the film is a mix of Dungeons and Dragons meets Aliens. There are humorous parts in the film as well, thanks to Pedro Pascal’s character Pero, who is Damon’s best friend. The action is good, along with a unique fighting style that the soldiers use in the early fight scenes. This was an underrated Action/Fantasy film.

  1. “The Institute” (2017). I have never been a fan of James Franco’s work, but in this film, I enjoyed his work as a doctor who uses questionable methods to treat his patients. Franco stars and co-directs this film based on a true story about The Rosewood Institution in Maryland. Lori Singer, from the 1984 movie Footloose is also in this film.

A girl checks herself into the institute after her parent’s death and ends up seeing, and being subjected to, strange medical therapies, such as brainwashing and mind control. This film is almost like a throwback horror film, however there is quite a bit of nudity in the film. There are parts of this film that reminded me of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s film Eyes Wide Shut, dealing with a secret society. If you can get through the nude scenes, the film is really good. If you can’t, I suggest the film with Kate Beckinsale called  Stonehearst Aslyum that came out several years ago, which is similar to this film.

  1. “Morgan” (2017). This film was directed by Luke Scott and stars Kate Mara, who was not cast right in the reboot of The Fantastic Four, is a good actress.  The film is about an experiment named Morgan, who is a hybrid with an advanced growth rate. She looks around 19 or 20, but is really 5 yrs old. After murdering a researcher, it is decided that the Morgan project should be terminated. Mara plays a government agent sent to watch and then end the project. After it is determined the project should end, the chase is on with Morgan attacking other people and trying to escape the compound where the tests are being held.

The cast also includes Brian Cox, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti. I thought the ending was predictable, but it doesn’t take away from the film.  It actually made its budget back, although it was not viewed highly. This film was underrated that is a good DVD watch.

  1. “Keeping Up With The Joneses.” (2016). With her success in the film Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is the current “It “ girl in Hollywood. This film was shot after her debut of the character in Superman vs Batman, but before the solo Wonder Woman film. The film was a DVD library choice for me, and I actually enjoyed it. It also stars Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and Isla Fisher.

This comedy is about a couple (Hamm and Gadot) who moves into the neighborhood, with Fisher and Zach’s characters assuming that they are secret agents. Fisher and her husband start watching and following the new couple and chaos ensues when they get mixed up in the case.  When the trailer for the film came out, I thought it was a Mr. and Mrs. Smith remake, but the film was pretty funny, thanks to Gadot’s acting. She has some good comedy skills as well as being an action star. This film bombed at the box office, but don’t let it stop you from checking it out if you want to see more of Gadot.

  1. “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.” (2017). I first heard about this film when it came out, and then forgot about it. Several months later, I was listening to a Christian Radio Show that was giving out the DVD as a prize, and went to the library to check out the film. It was a great movie.

Some Christian films are too cheesy, and there is a reason why some only last 2 weeks in the theaters. However, this film was enjoyable and funny.

Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton from “Marvel’s Agents of Shield”) is a child actor who ends up in trouble for his excessive partying and must do community service in order to avoid jail time. He ends up going back to his hometown, where he takes work at a church, and lies about being a Christian in order to earn his time by playing Jesus in an upcoming play after seeing the bad acting during the auditions. Stone ends up meeting many people in the play, including  former WWE Wrestler Shawn Michaels (The film is put out by WWE Films, which is why Michaels is on the cover, but he has a small role in the film). Since the word “resurrection” is in the film, there becomes a coming of age moment for Stone and his lies.

The film is touching, yet funny. I remember reading some reviews of the film that some Christians did not like it due to scenes making fun of the typical Christian stereotypes and their church language, which is what I think makes the film enjoyable. If you have been a part of a church play or community theater, you know what unexpected things or ideas can come up, which makes the film even funnier.  You do not have to be a Christian to like this film, and just want to see a decent film without violence or cussing that the family can watch, this is a great pick.

  1. “War and Peace’ (2016 Miniseries). If you are a fan of the BBC type films, this is a must watch. This series, based on the Leo Tolstoy book, is so good, I not only watched most of it in one day, but makes me want to read the 1000 page book.  This show aired on the BBC, then on A&E, Lifetime, and The History Channel.  I picked it up on an impulse at my local library, and as mentioned earlier, couldn’t stop watching it. (I think I watched 4-5 hours in a sitting).

This series stars Paul Dano (who was also great in the Brian Wilson film Love and Mercy), Lily James (from Disney’s Cinderella) Brian Cox, and Gillian Anderson. The film does not have much war scenes in it until the later episodes, but the show draws you in, and makes you involved in the characters and their actions. James is just adorable in her role as Natasha, while Dano’s acting is great as Pierre (although I’m not sure what to think of the character overall-like him, hate him??) This is a series I highly recommend that people add to their movie collection.

 

On a final note, if you haven’t seen the film “Split” with James McAvroy, it is worth watching, although the trailers were misleading in making it look like a horror film-it’s more of a thriller. I didn’t rank it above since the film did very well at the box office.

 

Maybe these suggestions will help you the next time you are looking at Redbox, the library, or wherever you get movies to watch at home.  I have seen some good films (Wonder Woman) and some overrated films (Beauty and The Beast, Spiderman Homecoming, Get Out) to just bad (The Mummy).  Consider these films if you want something different or can’t decide the next time you go to watch a movie.  You may be surprised.

Holy Heels!! Ranking Batman’s Villains!

Batman and Robin

One of the best DVDs released in the past few years was the long awaited collection of the 1966 Batman TV Series. Like many TV Shows that have not been released, the show was owned by several companies, so the legal battles to what company gets a certain amount of money took years to determine. The series was only 3 Seasons long, but the collection was separately sold in 4 sections, because of the Season 2 having more episodes than the others. Unless you bought the collection all at once in the DVD or Blu Ray packaging, which was over $100, it was sold separately by season (Part 2 was in two different packages) for anywhere from $19-$30 apiece.

Regardless of how many people ridiculed the cheesiness of the show and it’s unbelievable plots (especially how Batman and Robin got out of every cliffhanger), I still enjoy the show along with the music and actors.

In his book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, author Glen Weldon writes that even though the show got made fun of for its plots, Season One had ten of its episodes taken from the Batman Comics, and Season Two had two of its stories from the comics (Season 3 had none). Those that thought the show was an insult to the character of Batman, some of it was straight from the comic, which Weldon says was one of the problems with the show, claiming  the studio did not adapt the stories and action to the screen and left it as a 3 dimensional version of the comics. But by Season 3, the budget for the show was cut drastically from Season 1, which may also have been a factor.

In researching this topic, I decided to contact someone who I knew was a fan of the show, Chris Yambar. Yambar has painter, cook, public speaker, and comic illustrator on his resume. He also has organized his own comic conventions.  A resident of Youngstown Ohio, he worked on The Simpsons Comics, is the Creator of Mr. Beat, and is well known for being a Pop Culture fan and expert.

Yambar says “The 1966 Batman was groovy and corny. Also it was designed to take the character mainstream. Let’s be honest; in reality, the whole concept of Batman and any costumed character is totally insane. So they decided to have fun with it.”

Many actors appeared during the TV Show’s run, including Bruce Lee, Liberace, Leslie Gore, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, and Art Carney to name a few. There were several villains that were made just for the show, along with the comic book favorites. Here are my favorite Batman Villains in order.

egghead
Vincent Price’s Egghead.
  1. Egghead (Vincent Price). This character was created just for the TV Show, and is not a well known character when discussing the show, but is one of my favorites because of actor Vincent Price. Even though he had some Egg-aggerated comments, Price, like in his horror films, understood the humor in the role. I have always been a huge fan of Price, who did so many different things in his life from chef, painter, editor, actor, and Shakespearian expert.
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Gorshin’s Riddler.
    1. The Riddler. This character was played by 2 different actors during the TV Series; Frank Gorshin (Season 1 and 3) and John Astin (Season 2). Although he wasn’t a favorite villain of mine in the comics or movies (Jim Carrey was just awful in his interpretation in the movies- like everything else he does), it is Gorshin that made me like the character in the show. Astin (who played Gomez in The Adams Family) came in Season 2 after Gorshin wasn’t available, but the writers even had plots written for Gorshin if he showed up (one story was used for Maurice Evan’s The Puzzler character in Season 2).  Austin’s Riddler was dry and not really entertaining compared to Gorshin’s. Also of note: Austin wasn’t the only Addams Family alum to be in the series- Carolyn Jones (Morticia) played Marsha Queen of Diamonds, and Ted Cassidy (Lurch) appeared in a wall climbing scene. Jones also was in the TV Show Wonder Woman, and had a small part with Price in House of Wax.  Of the two actors, Frank Gorshin was by far the better of the two, and came back in Season 3.
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Burgess Meredith
  1. The Penguin. The rumor was that Spencer Tracy was going to play the lover of birds, but was denied after he wanted producers to agree to let him kill off Batman. Nonetheless, Burgess Meredith was cast, and was brilliant in his role. The Penguin has the most appearances in the TV series, which had to prove his popularity of the character. Just like Batman and Robin, the Penguin had many gadgets as well, such as his Pengymobile, various umbrellas, and other strange weapons. Unlike the Danny Devito’s dark and twisted version of the characters in the film, Meredith had a likeness to the character, even though he was a villain.
catwoman
Julie Newmar.
  1. Catwoman. There were 3 people who played this villain; Julie Newmar in Season 1 and 2, Lee Merriwether in the 1966 Batman Movie, and Eartha Kitt in Season 3. Merriwether took over the part for the movie when Newmar could not make the filming. Merriwether also had parts in the show as Lisa Carson in a King Tut episode. Even though Kitt was probably the bigger star when she was the character, my personal preference is Newmar, who in Season 2 showed more of her attraction to Adam West’s Batman than in the first season. Newmar’s costume is in The Smithsonian Museum, which shows her popularity of the character. Most people name Newmar when they think of Catwoman, with good reason. She was Purr-fect.

 

 

the joker

  1. The Joker. No surprise here. The character was Batman and Robin’s most famous enemy in the movies, TV, and comics. The TV Show was no different with the great Ceasar Romero playing the Clown Prince. Just like Vincent Price, the range of Romero’s acting shows in his character; the actor was in such films as The Cisco Kid, The Thin Man, and the original Ocean’s 11, opposite Frank Sinatra. Many laugh at the character’s face paint because the audience could see his mustache underneath the paint, but that was something Romero refused to shave for the show. To me, this makes the character even more off kilter and shows a somewhat insane look to him. Romero will always be The Joker, with Jack Nicholson coming in second of all the actors who’s played the villain.

 

There were many great actors that showed up on the TV Show during its run. At the time, the show was THE show actors wanted to be on, even though it only lasted 3 seasons. The skills of the actors are underrated due to comedic aspects of the show. Burt Ward’s Robin may have been known for his “Holy” comments, but Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl showed some female scrappiness to it (Let’s face it, she was in movies with Elvis Presley and was on shows like Star Trek, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Wild Wild West, and The Big Valley).

batgirl
Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl

Weldon writes in his book that the producers wanted a co-star that was “a young female who could offer the girls in the audience a strong role model and the dads a reason to tune in for the Non-Catwoman episodes.”

When Batgirl appears in Season 3 (which became my favorite hero of the show), the ratings were so bad that it did not matter. However, Weldon writes in the book that:

“Her Batgirl was forthright, no-nonsense and, when the mood hit her, flirtatious. Craig’s dance training translated into a combat style composed of high kicks and balletic spins. The producers’ intention had been to introduce a fresh, invigorating element to the show, and Craig delivered.”

It has only become in recent years that the TV Show has gotten a second look and some new fans. When Season 1 started, the Batman Merchandise made over $70 Million Dollars, and this was in 1966! After the show, there was a decline in sales until the Michael Keaton Batman movie appeared. In the book, Weldon says that:

“DC Comics, which until very recently discouraged its creators from making even oblique references to the show in its pages, has come around, granting rights for an animated series (Batman: The Brave and the Bold) that gleefully embraced the show’s sensibility and even publishing a tie-in comic (Batman ’66) written and drawn in the series’ distinctive style.”

There were plenty of skilled actors in the show. Maybe it’s time to check out the show again, even for nostalgia purposes.  To me, the Batman Series was underrated for a show, where today’s shows are all Reality Shows and shows with bad writing. At least in this show the audience knew they were getting funny lines and fight scenes.

Yambar listed his favorite villains, based on how “well they played into the classic designs established in the comics of the time.” His list: 1. Joker 2.Penguin 3.Gorshin’s Riddler 4. Catwoman (Julie Newmar, then Meriwether). He also lists Egghead and Bookworm as his “B Villains.” He also says “most of the others were just stupid.”

When I asked him to tell me his thoughts on the show overall, Yambar summed it up by saying “The Adam West dialogue was always the biggest keeper of the show. I loved the car, the cave, copter, boat gadgets. Mega-super infinity loved Batgirl. I still have a thing for librarians to this day. I have friends who are in the comics industry today because of the show, which they saw as young children. Before even having read comic books. “

Now if a respected person in the industry like Chris Yambar speaks highly of the show, shouldn’t you take another look at the series? Don’t just take our words for it, but TAKE OUR WORDS FOR IT. Or as Robin would say “Holy Binge-Watching!”

 

A HUGE thanks to Chris Yambar for contributing to this story and his support throughout the years. We are talking Stately Wayne Manor huge!

Glen Weldon’s book is available anywhere you get books.

(Weldon, Glen. “The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016. Print. )

 

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