Bill’s Bizarre Bijou
William D. Carl
This Week’s Feature Presentation:
WONDER WOMEN (1973)
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made . If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it . Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open . Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.
What do you get when you take Nancy Kwan, the lead actress from the classic musical FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961) and THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG (1960), Ross Hagen, the lead actor of such marvels as SUPERCOCK (1975)(it’s about a rooster, now get your mind out of the gutter!) and AVENGING ANGEL (1985), toss in great exploitation actress Roberta Collins from CAGED HEAT (1974) and EATEN ALIVE (1977) with a little Sid Haig, that stalwart character actor who’s illuminated movies from SPIDER BABY (1968) and FOXY BROWN (1974) to this year’s swamp non-epic CREATURE (2011) along with Vic Diaz, who was probably in every movie ever filmed in the Philippines, such as VAMPIRE HOOKERS (1978) and PROJECT:KILL (1976)? What happens when you feature a story full of bikini clad women, muscular jocks, a basement of mutants, mad scientists, and film it in the Philippines by Robert Vincent O’Neill, who helmed the 1970 classic BLOOD MANIA and drive-in staple ANGEL (1984)? Well, you get WONDER WOMEN (1973) aka THE DEADLY AND THE BEAUTIFUL, a real mess of a movie that, nonetheless, is never, not even for one second, boring . This mish-mash of genres is proof positive that anyone could make any old movie they wanted in the early 1970s and somehow get the son-of-a-gun distributed.
When our story begins, we see a James Bond-type sequence with three topless women doing water ballet in colored water while other beauties practice their kung-fu in miniskirts or fill syringes . After a brief battle, the kung-fu ladies kick the topless synchronized swimmers unconscious and inject them with something . Next, we’re watching a polo match, and the same hot women shoot one player, pull another man off his horse and pummel him, and drive a car onto the polo fields and haul the bodies into it . Next, a lone black man playing basketball is surrounded by the same racially diverse team of beauties who shoot him with a dart gun . This is all before the credits, folks! My curiosity has been piqued .
After the credits during a crowded jai-alai game (!), the star player is jock-napped by the women who kill a cop to steal a car and the unconscious man . They toss him into a coffin and gas him, loading him into a hearse marked Chapel By The Sea . Cue groovy wah-wah guitar and theme song (“We are Wonder Women, yes we are . Got that super power…Wonder Women!”) The girls strip their groovy duds and don mourning dresses and veils . They take him to an island fortress where mad scientist Dr. Tsu (Nancy Kwan) is performing surgery in head to toe shower curtain plastic . Dr. Tsu is snatching the healthiest men around and transplanting their organs into rich, ugly people through her slimy, yet debonair lawyer and accountant Gregorious (Sid Haig) . They are aiming to make a fortune by planting the mega-rich Mr. Paulson’s brain in the jock’s body.
Arriving on a jet plane is Mike Harber (Hagen), who rocks a great disco white suit . His cab driver is Vic Diaz, ubiquitous star of over 110 movies made in the Philippines, and he is just as sweaty and smarmy as ever . Harber is being offered ten thousand dollars by Lloyd’s of London to find the missing jai-alai player .
Meanwhile, Dr. Tsu’s henchwomen bicker amongst themselves, play chess, shoot guns, and play with their ‘toys:’ the muscular, hot men they’ve kidnapped . Sometimes, they go to Dr. Tsu’s shiny, color-flashing laboratory, chock full of things that light up and go beep beep boop boop, and they have brain sex . Attached to machines, they enjoy the sensations of sex without all that messy emotional aftertaste .
Harber visits Won Ton Charlie at the Chinese City of Death (I can’t make this stuff up!) . He is sent by Won Ton to No No the Fisherman at the local cockfighting ring, where we are privileged to witness a real sickening cockfight . In slow motion, nonetheless! This is just after Harber is attacked by men with guns riding on mopeds with sidecars . Once again, people, I just can’t make this stuff up.
One of the Wonder Women, the gorgeous Maria De Aragon (BLOOD MANIA-1970; she was also Greedo, the would-be assassin in STAR WARS-1977) seduces Harber, and then points a gun at him . He knocks it out of her hand and they proceed to destroy the entire hotel room brawling with some of the hokiest martial arts moves ever . I mean, she really beats him up, slamming him through coffee tables and walls . It’s a hilarious scene, and it continues as he chases her through the streets of Manila . Keep an eye on the people on the streets . Obviously, they didn’t warn anyone that a movie was being shot or get permits or anything . Half the people look bemused and the other half watch with shocked wide-open mouths . And what the heck was that shot of the eel squiggling down the sidewalk? Or that long parade of motorcycles and sidecars? They hop into little tiny jeep taxis and have a medium speed car chase all over the city, complete with cars going into fruit stands and a flipping ox cart getting sideswiped! Let’s not mention the 70s porn music that plays behind the mayhem.
Of course, our hero drives her into a lake where she gets wet . And of course, she leads him back to the island fortress of Dr. Tsu (Gee, this sounds a lot like a Jess Franco flick.) She gives him the slip, informing Tsu that he’s on the island . Dozens, maybe hundreds, of hot girls in mini-skirts with giant machine guns are unleashed to find Harber and bring him back . Now, we get the long gun battle through the jungles, but Harber’s a real manly stud and the girls can’t shoot for crap, so it’s up to Maria de Aragon to bring him to Dr. Tsu’s table where she’s eating fiery volcano soup . Really.
She shows him her Simon-esque lab, her vaults of organs, and her mutants in cells in the basement . Tsu explains, “I call this one Tyrannosaurus Rex, after the dinosaur, to remind me that evolution also made mistakes.” The make-up on these monsters looks like something out of an R. Crumb cartoon, and some are just rubber masks. One tall guy has a blinking light bulb on top of his head encased in a plastic dome! After all this, Dr. Tsu hooks up Harber to have brain sex with her . Wearing crazy Lite-Bright covered head-pieces, they hilariously emote ecstasy while lying back in red bean bag chairs and never touching! Oh yeah, that’s hot.
The mutants break loose . Explosions happen . Gunfights start again . And, yes, there is a catfight .
Kwan plays it all straight, but Haig really seems to be having a great time portraying someone suave and intelligent with just a bit of swish in his mannerisms . I’m so used to seeing him play psycho rednecks, it was nice to see him in such a different kind of part . Ross Hagen was also the producer of this miracle of trash cinema, and he handles the role just fine . With his sun-tanned to leather skin and his gravelly voice, he seems like a second string Lee Marvin . Roberta Collins is also just fine, sniping and bitching with the other girls or pretending to know kung-fu . She really is quite stunning, as is Maria De Aragon, as are all the women at the fortress . It’s enough to maintain the attention of any red blooded heterosexual male.
The costumes are a riot and make this worth a rental by themselves . During surgery, Dr. Tsu and her nurses wear head-to-foot plastic suits loaded down with zippers . The women often sport bat-wing sleeves and color-coordinated mini-dresses . There’s a LOT of hair, either long past the shoulders or in gigantic afros .
WONDER WOMEN is truly a wonder of exploitation cinema . Full of brain transplants, mutants, hot girls with guns and knee-high boots, some nudity, clumsy kung-fu, sexual innuendo, slumming actors, a Thomas Crowne chess scene rip-off, car chases, bike chases, foot chases, animal cruelty, and more action than would normally fit in ten movies – it really is one of a kind. And somehow, the damn thing’s rated PG! Now, I’m not saying it’s a good or well-made film, but it sure as hell entertains!
I saw my copy on a SOMETHING WEIRD DVR .
I give WONDER WOMEN three moped sidecars out of four.
© Copyright 2011 by William D. Carl