Sting of the Black Scorpion
Sting of the Black Scorpion 2002
This is one of the many rarities and lesser known straight-to-DVD superhero movies I found at my local rental store’s bargain section. It is actually three episodes of the Roger Corman produced television series on the Sci-Fi channel called Black Scorpion. I looked it up and the show ran for only 22 episodes and spawned one other movie called “Return of the Black Scorpion” which was released a year before this one, but I couldn’t tell if it was a newly made epilogue for the TV series, or if it was a similar collection of episodes. There was also two made for TV movies several years before featuring the same characters, and with Roger Corman attached to it. But I couldn’t find much more information on them either. This show is rather akin to the classic Adam West Batman TV series, although it feels like it’s almost trying to be a serious show. Where Batman was almost nonstop camp and silliness, this movie plays sometimes for laughs, and sometimes more seriously. And it also has Frank Gorshin, who played the Riddler, as Clockwise.
As I mentioned, this draws quite some influence from the Adam West Batman series, even so far as to include two actors from that series as guest stars. It does avoid the skewed angles and sound effect balloons, and instead opts for extraneous explosions, constant, cheesy one-liners, and extremely over the top villains. The corny one-liners spoken by every single villain was really the best part, from a “so bad it’s laughable” point of view. I’m talking Batman and Robin level of corny, when it comes to all the time-related puns and dialog coming from Clockwise, and the sight-related gags coming from Flashpoint. But I have to admit that every time I heard one, it made me laugh hysterically at it, as well as at all the car crashes that would either end in the car running into something and going into an extreme flip/roll, or exploding for no reason.
The special effects are really on the typical Roger Corman scale of cheap and cheesy. There are lots of obviously stock footage explosions, nearly every car scene is sped up to an almost Benny Hill level of fast-motion, and the animated lightning was all sorts of bad. Judging just from the episodes used for this movie, all of the laser beams from the Flashpoint segment were by far the worst, with a badly drawn laser beam, especially when the horribly accented doctor uses it to restore Flashpoint’s vision. The special effects for the car transformation was also pretty horrible CGI, much worse than the Viper TV series that came out a full five years earlier. And while the actual Black Scorpion costume looked pretty decent, the costumes for most of the villains looked like they were made from tin foil and saran wrap. The fight scenes were hit and miss, and when I say miss, I mean “miss by a mile” with kicks and punches that come nowhere near connecting, and there were plenty of flashy-yet-pointless backflips and other acrobatics. Not only that, but Black Scorpion tends to get knocked out easier than Lana Lang from Smallville.
Black Scorpion herself was an odd concept for a superhero. It was a mix between Batman, Viper, Dick Tracy, and some techno-magical elements to it. First off, she was a cop, but instead of just handling things as a cop, she would occasionally decide that she couldn’t handle things and put her magic ring on which puts her costume on for her in a flash of blue lightning. But of course, it’s not magic, it’s just altering her clothes on an atomic level, according to her tech guy’s explanation. But then, that doesn’t exactly explain why she has to put on her costume when she leaves from her home. A home where she is almost always working out at. Aside from the acrobatics, and occasional ring lightning, I really don’t think she did anything as Black Scorpion that she couldn’t have done as a police officer, but then I guess we wouldn’t have gotten nearly as good a look at her legs. I also missed where the whole Black Scorpion concept came from, the only real connection to a scorpion is her hair braid with the little metal tip at the end, which was only for decoration as far as I could tell, as well as being an easy-off wig, since she tended to take it off quite easily.
There was also the obligatory love interest played by Scott Valentine, which I actually recognized from an old 80’s movie called My Demon Lover. He transferred to the police district in order to catch Black Scorpion, but ends up kind of falling for her. I say kind of because it’s almost like an S&M style relationship, as she tends to beat him up every time they meet, and then kiss him. Not only that, but she occasionally tries to tell him that she, as his police detective partner, is also Black Scorpion. And when she does, some random happenstance comes up and she chickens out, like when he recognizes her voice while she’s in costume, but he’s lost his sight from the villain Flashpoint.
While this movie/TV series does have elements of the classic Adam West Batman, it doesn’t have nearly enough of it to make it a great watch, merely a good watch, as it had me laughing out loud several times over the course of the movie. As I said before, my favorite parts were the constant bad one-liners, and random explosions. And I also got a kick out of the fact that many times, they would completely cover Black Scorpion’s face in shadow. And these were not times where it was because a stunt double was needed, she just had her face covered for no apparent reason. I am curious to find the entire season of the TV show now, as I thought the movie was some good old campy fun. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
*note: I would have more pics of this movie, but the disc wouldn’t run on my computer so I couldn’t take any screenshots. You’ll just have to imagine Frank Gorshin as Clockwise.