With the same director, Robert Vincent O’Neill, as 80s video hit Angel (best remembered for the great tagline: ‘High school honor student by day. Hollywood hooker by night.’), Wonder Women is the type of film AIP made around that film. However, it’s far too sleazy to have been an AIP film.
It was shot in the Philippines, where actor Sid Haig—well-known from all those Blaxploitation movies and later Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses—had been making films for a while. It arrived in between Black Mama White Mama and Coffey, coming towards the end of Haig’s run of work in the Philippines. The plot is insane, ridiculous, stupid and makes no sense. Not that it matters—you’re not going to watch this for deft plotting.
The ludicrous plot centres on an American detective calked Mike Harber (played by Ross Hagen, who was in a film called Supercock—which was not a porno, but a movie about cockfighting). Harber ends up in the Philippines, where he is kidnapped by a group of beautiful women who all work for Dr Tsu (Nancy Kwan), a sort of Dr Moreau type of mad scientist. She wants Harber’s body… to do experiments on, of course!
It’s all PG, which is hilarious, because it’s fair to say it should not have been. I would not be surprised if the filmmakers pulled a Corman and sent the MPAA a heavily edited version for the rating. It also features an absolutely insane car chase that goes on and on and on, which is an obvious rip-off of The French Connection, which was still very current when it was released.
There’s loads of nudity and violence, an extra ridiculous science fiction plot added on that’s utterly nonsensical, and plenty of martial arts action. Surprisingly, it does actually live up to its poster, which can’t be said for a lot of ‘70s drive-in fare. You have head transplants, American football players being kidnapped for weird experiments—it’s just very silly, fast-paced, and lots of fun.
One of the biggest reveals from the film is that the Vinegar Syndrome theme tune is: the theme from Wonder Women. There’s two cuts, the shorter American cut and a “European cut”. It’s a 2K restoration from the original 35mm negative, which as always makes the film look better than it has a right to.
Bonus features include a commentary track from the director, a sort of introduction from a screening of Wonder Women at the New Beverley cinema in LA, the trailer, TV spots and a stills gallery. If purchased directly from the Vinegar Syndrome web site, you will most likely get the version with a very nice slipcover.