BOOTLEG FILES 796: “The Batman: Deadly Madness” (2022 Russian film).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None (hey, it just came out).
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Unauthorized production that borrows copyright protected material.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nyet.
This week marks the debut of two new films inspired by Bob Kane’s Gotham City-based superhero. There is the big Hollywood film that everyone is waiting for – do I really have to identify it? – and there is the tiny Russian film that no one is waiting for but everyone should see, if only to learn an invaluable lesson on how not to make a fan film.
Of course, at this point in time it seems treasonous to advocate for any Russian product. But an exception should be made for “The Batman: Deadly Madness,” a wonderfully crummy work running slightly less than nine minutes. This short film offers important evidence that affirms enthusiasm is not synonymous with talent.
“The Batman: Deadly Madness” opens in a dark alley – aren’t all alleys dark in these films? – with several men in Joker-worthy whiteface make-up fighting Batman and losing. Batman is looking for the Joker, who has just escaped from a mental hospital. But when he calls Alfred on his cell phone, the Joker answers. Yes, the chalk-hued miscreant has kidnapped Batman’s butler and is holding him hostage.
Batman brings in Commissioner Gordon, who doesn’t do very much except show up and talk to Batman for a minute. Batman then finds himself in a warehouse where Alfred is bound in a chair while the Joker and his henchmen – the guys we saw in the alley earlier – prepare to fight Batman.
Needless to say, Batman repeats his pulverizing of the henchmen in a highly stylized and choreographed explosion of fisticuffs, but while this occurs Alfred frees himself from the flimsy chain that bound his wrists. While Alfred attempts to help Batman, Joker takes a pipe and brains the butler. Batman is horrified that Alfred is dead – and who can blame him, since trying to hire domestic help nowadays is a challenge.
Stolid Batman and giggling Joker slug it out until Joker appears to have been beaten to death. Batman removes his mask and grimaces at the camera, at which point the film abruptly (and mercifully) stops.
To be cruel, I have never been a devotee of fan films made by adults. I can appreciate teenagers who are enamored with the big screen adventures and try to emulate their cinematic icons. It is genuinely moving to see a new generation try to pick up a celluloid torch from their heroes and pay sincere tributes despite shortcomings in budget and experience.
But when adults spend their time creating unreasonable facsimiles that can never truly measure up to Hollywood fare, you have to ask: Why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to create original works that can call attention to one’s creativity, rather than do a pale imitation of multi-million-dollar works put together by a small army of professionals?
Nonetheless, this silly little film has a so-bad-it’s-good-vibe. And since it barely lasts nine minutes, it is a blip of a distraction that could be amusing for any Batman addict.
“The Batman: Deadly Madness” is the work of creative artist Ilya Artemov, with Batman played by a stoic Nikolas Vyazemskiy (who self-identifies on Instagram as a “cosplayer, blogger, creative person”) and Joker played by Andrey Yakimov (who is a professional actor). Their film turned up on YouTube yesterday – I suspect it will never be made available in any U.S. commercial home movie format, so anyone eager for a Russian Batman can go to YouTube and experience Gotham City on the Volga.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: While this weekly column acknowledges the presence of rare film and television productions through the so-called collector-to-collector market, this should not be seen as encouraging or condoning the unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either through DVDs or Blu-ray discs or through postings on Internet video sites.
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