Supposedly, this was once a 54-minute film, only a 36-minute extract survives … though the notion that Andy Warhol’s underground films have fixed running times is notional. Projected on walls during live happenings, these are moving pictures in the sense of ambient wallpaper rather than narrative cinema.
Goateed, beatnik-look filmmaker Jack Smith (Flaming Creatures) sports a Satanic smile and a black cloak as the composite title figure. Much of the movie consists of him prancing about on a New York rooftop swirling the cloak in competition with Baby Jane Holzer. Though the credits are scored with a Batman-themed novelty song, most of the film is accompanied by early Velvet Underground music – with beat poetry/pornography overlaid (‘The Nothing Song’). Other music is by The Farmingdale Sound Machine, Thousands of Lives and Sun Ra.
There are quite a few solarisations and superimpositions as Factory folk dance in place or stare out at the audience – even a cat gets a lot of close-ups. A vaguely pleasant watch since Warhol’s friends seem to be having a better time than usual, but a puzzling artifact when dislocated from its original context. Note that Warhol was, as often, ahead of the curve: this was made before the 1966 Batman TV series – itself influenced by pop art and camp – helped the caped crusader cross over from comics star to mainstream pop icon.
Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.
NB: yes, I did look at all this stuff when writing the ‘Andy Warhol’s Dracula’ section of Johnny Alucard.