Holy Federico Fellini! It’s A Burt Ward Film Primer!
Another Batman summer is winding down, and it doesn’t seem like we heard very much out of Burt Ward. I don’t recall seeing any interviews with him in the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press nor do I remember a panel visit by Burt to “Charlie Rose” or “The Tavis Smiley Show.” Seems like this former TV superhero wants to keep his profile low—and why not? The last time he made headlines his animal shelter was polluting a river in California. That’s more embarrassing than the time the Riddler trapped Burt in his comically oversized hourglass and bright pink sand nearly clogged the Boy Wonder’s every orifice. The dog shelter story is just the kind of wound Matt Lauer would gleefully tear open during an otherwise fluffy fifteen minute stop by “The Today Show.”
Thus, our sensitive Burt stays home, content to leave the “Batman these days is too dark; our Batman was so much more fun!” quotes to the likes of Julie Newmar and the pile of naugahyde that’s currently passing itself off as Adam West. That’s fine. Burt Ward is probably sick of talking about Batman anyway. To be fair, he’s been in other stuff over the years, and the blame falls squarely on us for not being more acquainted with it. With that in mind, I present the following Burt Ward film primer. If you’re lucky, you just might be able to find entry to the dimension where complete copies of these movies still exist.
Fire In The Night (1986) – The cinematic debut of female martial arts pioneer Graciela Casillas, Fire In The Night attempts to send up hard boiled action flicks and is only hindered by its severely low budget (a recurring theme with Mr. Ward’s cinematic oeuvre). Burt plays Paul, the karate teacher, a fact sure to irritate anyone who remembers all that boasting the former Boy Wonder once did about whupping up on Bruce Lee.
The Underachievers (1987) – This tone deaf comedy follows a group of “crazy” adults attending night school (one of whom is an undercover cop trying to bust up a drug ring). Think Moving Violations without the wit or charm. From an Amazon.com review: “Great movie! I especially love the scene where the beautiful Becky LeBeau gets completely naked and starts humping that alligator float.”
Robo-C.H.I.C. (1989) – Also known as Cyber-C.H.I.C. A mad scientist builds his own sexy crime-fighting robot because, hey, why the hell not? Kathy Shower, the Playboy Playmate who stars as the titular Robo-C.H.I.C., quit the movie during filming, forcing the director to hire an impersonator Brandon Lee Crow-style. Lyle Waggoner is also in this one, which is notable because he nearly ended up playing Batman in the ’60s series that made Burt Ward famous.
Robot Ninja (1990) – Burt’s the smarmy agent of a struggling comic book artist in this no budget classic that looks like it was filmed at your parents’ house on a random Tuesday night. Robot Ninja barely gets by on “so bad it’s good” fumes, but we must give it credit for attempting to do the whole “movie in a movie” thing (Robot Ninja is an already established fictional entity within this universe until his creator, spurned by horrible injustice, decides to start fighting crime as said character).
Kill Crazy (1990) – The greatest Rambo ripoff in history boasting the greatest trailer in history. “When a man at war becomes a machine of revenge, he gets…kill crazy.” David Heavener’s commanding performance as steely-eyed anti-hero Alexander Grady Puckett will distract you from everything else that’s ever on the screen.
Hot Under The Collar (1991) – Horny boy tries to hypnotize girl into having sex, girl joins a convent instead. That’s right—Burt Ward made a goddamn nunsploitation flick. Believe or not, our Boy Wonder plays the Pope in this one. Holy Ex-Communication, Batman.
Beach Babes From Beyond (1993) – Jackie Stallone, Joe Estevez, Don Swayze, and Joey Travolta somehow manage to share marquee space in this softcore female-centric spin on “They Came From Outer Space.” Gorgeous aliens come to Earth looking to par-tay. Burt’s about the only one here who keeps his top on.
Assault Of The Party Nerds 2: The Heavy Petting Detective (1995) – Hard to believe they waited six years before giving us a sequel to the original Party Nerds. Richard Gabai stars in the role Frank Whaley was born to turn down; it’s the lowest-rent Ferris Bueller food stamps can afford. This movie has its yuks, but be forewarned: there is a scene where a girl sits on Burt Ward’s lap.
Alien Force (1996) – In a callback to his turn as the Pope in Hot Under The Collar, Burt appears as the Omnipresent Praxima in this straight-to-video sci-fi action turd. As Alien Force’s trailer demonstrates, the film’s meager budget was equally distributed between the script, special effects, and Burt’s space priest costume (an ensemble that comes complete with sceptre).
Moving Targets (1998) – And you thought Miles O’Keeffe peaked with Cave Dwellers. O’Keeffe is teamed with Burt in this cop drama at least one IMDb.com user describes as “bland but suspenseful.” Moving Targets is also one of five movies that pairs Burt with scream queen Linnea Quigley (the other four being Party Nerds 2, Beach Babes From Beyond, Robot Ninja, and 1991’s Virgin High). Will the Ward/Quigley series one day be as revered as the Hope/Crosby Road pictures? Hell if I know.
Not enough gratuitous Ward for you? See also Smoothtalker, The Dwelling, and Karate Raider. I’m sure at least one of those is on NetFlix Instant right now!