Director: Louis Morneau
USA - 1999
I have to admit, Ive long had a fascination with bats. Sure, everybody hears
scary stories about them, all the myths like how bats get caught in your hair or that they
carry rabies. Well, they might carry rabies, but no more so than any other wild animal.
But they were mammals that flew, and there are few enough of them, they always were
Eventually, I believe through the influence of Batman, I came to learn a
bit more about bats. Most eat insects, the rest tend to eat
fruit. Theyre very susceptible to toxins in the environment, and as a result, many
species are endangered (sorry, Mr. Wayne, theyre not as great survivors as you might
think). Echolocation takes care of avoiding hair, or anything else thats not food,
for that matter. Theyre always flying around in the zoo, one of the few animals that
seem to be active most of the time you go by their displays, which is a point in their
Ive even seen wild bats on the few times Ive been spelunking in natural
caves, little tiny ones clinging to the rock walls, bleary-eyed with sleep but wakened by
our flashlights. They were so tiny and cute, it was impossible to hold on to any residual
fear. Not that I had any by that point, but some of my companions at the time didnt
share my affection for the debunking of popular childhood misconceptions, and the tiny
bats won them over.
Bats are intelligent (a researcher taught some wild jungle bats to come to him when he
whistled and eat fruit from his hand, all within a few hours), helpful (they eat pounds of
insects, each night; specific intake varies by weight of bat, of course), and useful
(vampire bat saliva is being studied for use as an anticoagulant). Even their guano is
valuable, to the right industries.
But, of course, theyre still relatively grotesque, compared to many other
animals, so they get cast as the heavy in movies even today.
I can recall movie about vampire bat colonies moving up into the US; perfectly wretched little rubber bats threatening
some female bat-ologist and that guy from the Stingray TV show, Nick Mancuso. Ah,
yes: Nightwing, 1979, directed by Arthur Hiller. Hardly a pro-bat movie, but at
least they had some screen time, even if they were incredibly weakly represented.
Now, vampire bats are very misunderstood in the first place. Local Chicago musician
Chris Ligon, in his song Crazy Vampire Bats, wrote the lyrics:
They are a small bat, they do not suck blood,
Rather, they bite their victims and then they lick up the blood
Coming from the / the gaping wound / the gaping wound
And they dont drink all / that much blood
They might be able to drain a mouse or small bird
But a human might not even know he or she had been attacked
It would take several visits from the vampire bat
To take as much blood / as the Red Cross takes during a blood donation
Yes, I know it doesnt fit into normal lyrical patterns very well. Thats
part of what makes the song so fun.
Regardless of the facts, vampire
bats are basically given the short end of the stick in nearly every instance. In the
aforementioned movie, they were handled as if they were the ultimate evil. I think they
even tried to work a Native American curse into it somewhere, as well. You know how the
early eighties were into that mysticism angle. Anyway, when I first heard of the movie Bats,
I wondered if it would be just as unfair, or if it would manage to employ some actual
factual information about our flapping furry friends.
The answer is yes it does, but that doesnt really help.
The opening and closing are letterboxed, which I think is a very good thing. More and
more people are learning to appreciate the wide screen view. However, somewhere in the
midst of the body of the movie, it flips back to full-screen, or pan-and-scan. What the
heck? Thats unfair, pulling a switch on me. If I know what to expect, one or the
other, I can enjoy, but it kind of throws me to realize that something has changed
detracts from the whole movie experience. Yeah, yeah, being picky, I know, but still
They have a Director, Louis Morenau, and a Director of Photography, George Moordian. I
used to think the two jobs were for a single person, and when I found out they
werent, I thought they should be. I mean, shouldnt a director control the flow
of the image as closely as the performance of the actors? Not that Im adverse to
giving more people more work in Hollywood, if its done smartly. But then, as events
unfold, I find Mr. Moordians involvement, if he was the one making the visual
choices in the final edit, to be a mixed blessing.
I mean, on the one hand, he gives us a very slick moon rising, with curling clouds
racing by. Its a fairly cool shot, well done in the wide screen presentation. We
focus on a car going through scrub, under train tracks, and parking. If the terrain
didnt tell us it was the American Southwest, the young couple in the car will. Not
only is the boy wearing a godawful cowboy shirt, theyre all down-home Texas
bickering about some girl the boys been running around with. By now we have enough
clues to know these are our pre-credits sacrificial victims, done in just to show that the
monster (or monsters) is serious. They settle in with a couple of beers as shadows flash
before you can say "what was that?" something smashes into their
windshield! Another starts ripping open the ragtop. Kids screaming, ugly winged things
screeching, its all very chaotic, and to top it off, the attack is timed so that a
train is passing overhead, concealing all with its noise and flashing lights.
Returning to Moordian, if hes to blame, the other hand includes the
headache-inducing blur of rapid cuts, camera-shaking, and close-ups. Dont get me
wrong, this early in the film it fits, in order to keep us from getting too good a look at
the bat puppets. Problem is, even after weve seen the monsters, that seems to be the
style of choice. Sure, it lends a sense of motion and urgency, but it also encourages
headaches. Its not as bad as Blair Witch Project,
but then, what would be?
And now I want to critique the battle tactics of the bats. Given the name of the movie,
we know the monsters
are bats. One of the first things we find out, once we get briefed on the situation, is
that theyre super-intelligent (for bats). Even a bat will know not to try to
head-butt its way through a glass windshield, however. I can understand if it was a
distraction tactic, but once the other one started coming in (successfully) through the
roof, I would have thought the distraction would have been served. So rather than continue
to force your way through the splintering glass, wouldnt it have been smarter to hop
up and go through the roof, as well? Okay, so maybe theyre not as smart as all that,
then. But still
With our initial murders out of the way, we are now allowed to introduce our leads.
We cut to a mesa in Skull Valley, Arizona. Why do people live in places like this? Or
call them such things? I mean, if people die in the valley repeatedly, that earns the name
Death Valley. But unless you uncover a pyramid of skulls mysteriously built by ancient
tribesmen, dont bother with Skull Valley. Alternately, it could be that morbid humor
working. Skull Valley is right next to Lonesome Boneyard and down the road a piece from
A spelunking Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer) is talking on her headset radio to her
assistant, Jimmy Sands (León), while she explores this particular bat roost. After Johnny Mnemonic, Starship Troopers, Dragonheart,
and all the other things Ive seen her in, Im filled with foreboding at the
sight of her surrounded by blank rock, transmitting her performance over walkie-talkie.
Reminds me of Secret Agent Man, and shes too good for that.
For the record, she was completely up to par with the rest of the movie, as she always
is. I never doubted for a moment that she was being mortally threatened by bat puppets and
Aww, cute bats! The bats shes playing with right now are the kind
that Ive seen myself, and theyre the farthest thing from harmful that you can
imagine. Dr. Dina seems to think so, too, although we find out Jimmy hates bats. The bat
research assistant who hates bats? What the hell is he doing there? Turns out his interest
is more theoretical than practical, so hes paying his dues before he can retire to a
classroom or something like that. I would imagine that chiropterologists (what I think is
the term for bat scientists) are in high demand in schools like
Hey, I never promised to lay off the vampire jokes. You are now warned.
Their investigation of a bat roost is interrupted by the arrival of a rude helicopter
bearing a typical US Gummint suit-type, with bad hair. Hes a CDC ("The Center
for Disease Control?" Jimmy asks, just in case we missed Outbreak, X-Files,
etc. ad nauseum) guy by the name of Dr. Tobe Hodge (Carlos Jacott), and basically tells
them theyre needed in Texas and theyre coming with him. When theres bat
killings and the Feds are involved, you know it cant be good.
After a travel montage, we meet Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips, and the
IMDB claims it's "Kimsey," instead of "Kinsey," which sounds more
natural, but what do I know from Texas? I mean, really) as he arrives at the airport near
his town. Kimsey is properly weathered and soft-spoken; Phillips does a decent job with
the somewhat arbitrary character hes given (the character has dimension, but
its kind of shoe-horned in there awkwardly). I wonder why he hasnt been in as much lately? Back in the Young Guns
days, he was burning up the screen. Then he seemed to get all ego-y, and then art-y, and
then dropped out of sight for a while. Still, hes a man who knows his craft.
We go immediately to the autopsy. Nothing like a little flash of gore to keep us in the
modern monster movie mood. Turns out Dr. Dina is able to handle it; I guess shes not
limited to bats, she can handle larger beasts as well. She spots a claw in the depths of
the chewed-out abdomen, grabs it with tweezers, identifies it by arms-length
eyeballing, and says it as a fruit bat. But thats impossible, of course; fruit bats
only eat fruit. Thats why theyre called fruit bats. ("Burrow owls live in
burrows in the ground! Why do you think they call them Burrow Owls!" Sorry, I had a
Dead Milkmen moment there
Turns out there have been a number of animal attacks, but just recently went to humans.
This does not correct the problem with Burrow Bats
critters, which is simply that they shouldnt be doing this. Dr. Dina is very good at
stating the truth about bats: they do not kill people. Period. Right on, woman! And nobody
even brought vampire bats into it. Which is surprising; youd think vampire bats
would be the first choice, as they are the only ones that are naturally the least bit
The Creepy Scientist Guy With A Hidden Agenda (real name Dr. Alexander McCabe, played
by Bob Gunton, hereafter referred to merely by his easy-to-remember acronym, CSGWAHA) (and
yes, hes that easy to define, practically from first sight) identifies them as lab
bats he worked on. Indonesian flying foxes, actually, an endangered species, which are one
of the largest species of bat in the world. Turns out they were the subjects of bad
gummint mojo, some virus-based research. Its the kind of thing that causes this
behavior, and can also spread to other bats. As yet, no danger of human infection (so no
need to call Dustin Hoffman, or compare these bats to flying monkeys
unless we want
to, of course, and damn it, who wouldnt?)
After its proven that the sacrificial kids were no mere fluke (and CSGWAHA and
CDC-Boy act all secretive), Kimsey is interested in letting everybody know of the danger,
but still keeping them from panicking. Naturally, nobody wants panic, but at least this
Sheriff is willing to close the beaches right away. Better handling than Jaws, but
then again, Kimseys probably seen that movie, and saw how well that worked.
We find out a little about what were dealing with. CSGWAHA has used the virus to
increase intelligence and teamwork abilities, aggressiveness, and range of feeding, making
the bats omnivorous. Intelligent, aggressive animals, capable of working together and of
killing people. Hmm
"But why would you do that?"
"Because Im a scientist. Thats what we do. We make everything a little
better. Bigger livestock, better crop yields
Im sorry, CSGWAHA, I must inform you that you are a liar, yes, a liar, and your
pants are on fire. Given the qualities you engineered, I cannot see how this kind of bat
development is better for anyone but the military. Did you know that back in the
80s, there was a project designed to train bats to carry incendiary devices into enemy camps? Bounced around from branch to branch, Army to Air
finally got killed, after costing millions and not producing a damn
at least, I think it got killed
Hopefully not literally, in the case of
the poor test bats. Anyway, this kind of project, in the film, smacks of exactly that kind
of military thinking. I hate to paraphrase Jurassic Park of all things, but
youre just courting trouble when you try to mess with Nature. And look where it got
Our down-home wisdom comes from our token minority, Jimmy. "I dont know
about the rest of you, but I dont like anything moving higher up the food chain than
me. Period." Theyre awfully fond of verbalizing their punctuation in this
movie. "Lets get out of here! Exclamation!"
This whole expository section is filled with superfluous cuts, zooms, and pans. Trying
to give action to the scene, no doubt. Unfortunately, as Ive mentioned, this kind of
camera action is fairly typical for Bats. If it doesnt jump around every damn
second, its just not interesting. Or so goes the official view. Personally, I blame MTV, but then again, who
doesnt? Still, soon were back into action, out in the country doing something
useful. Theres nothing like a good montage scene to move things along.
After the nets are set up to catch the bats as they try and leave their roost,
theres more exposition, dealing with Dr. Dinas background, how she got to be a
specializing in chiroptera. Its decent dialogue, relatively speaking, a credit to
writer John Logan for that, at least. I mean, its better than, say, Starship Troopers,
or even Secret Agent Man, which Dina should be happy about. They touch on the fact
that the bat is good luck in some cultures, and they spend some time talking about how Dr.
Dina got interested in bats. She says she cant bear to think of killing a bat. Well,
lets see how long that lasts. This is a bats-as-monsters movie, and those who are
unwilling to kill the monsters in these kinds of situations tend to have abbreviated
screen times. Considering shes one of the big names in the movie, I dont
forsee her being Bat Chow soon, but if she does go down, I hope itll be as amusing
as Samuel L. Jacksons ending in Deep Blue Sea.
In that movie, the sharks never gave anybody a chance to drown. In this film the bats
wont give anyone a chance to
fly? Walk around in the dark?
Echolocate? Well, perhaps its not a direct comparison.
Heres a confusing point. Dr. Dina is a bat expert, who can identify the genus of
a lost claw by sight at arms length. Considering bats tend to be fairly messy in
their roosts, and guano tends to produce ammonia (something they mention later),
youd think shed be able to tell how large the swarm is. (Is that the proper
term? A murder of crows, a swarm of bees, a something of bats..) Instead, when her little
sensor unit starts blinking, she realizes there are too many bats, and starts running for
the car. So basically, we sat through all that setting up of the net for nothing, as it
had no impact on the bats, and pretty much just burns some screen time.
I sure hope they dont make a habit of this.
Dear God, CGI bats have no real perspective. They look like theyre really closer
than theyre supposed to be. Its pretty damn fake, but at least the swarming
mass of bats, perspective problems aside, looks reasonable. They attack the truck that Dr.
Dina and Kimsey are holed up in, and abruptly turn into puppet bats. The puppets look kind
of cute, in a Fright Night sort of way. What, theyre trying to get into the
engine? Are these bats or Gremlins? Well, they pulled a spark plug and they figured out
how to get in through the AC vents, so I guess they are Gremlins! Gremlins III: Bat
Epidemic. Well, the puppets are just as ugly, at least
Oooh, less than 10 minutes after saying she couldnt kill a bat, shes
burning one with a cigarette lighter. And Kimsey is shooting bats near her head. You know,
in The Killer, that resulted in permanent blindness for the woman whose face was near the firing gun. But its like the
back-blast from the bazooka in Rambo: First Blood Part 2; its not even
So, this virus has the effect of Africanizing the bats, giving them a kind of hive
mind, even moreso than they already seem to have. When Jimmy and the deputy roll up to try
to help, hundreds of glowing eyes all turn to look at the new car. I have to admit,
thats pretty damn creepy
and cool. Theyre playing all their spooky swarm
movie conventions pretty well, and as long as you dont have perspective problems the
CGI works pretty well.
Once the main body of bats disappears, they find one left, and with an inappropriately
scored putting-bat-in-cage sequence, they capture it. Wow, that grabbing hold of the bat
and sticking it into the wire cage was nearly heart-stopping! But at least now they have a
cute bat puppet with a plug-ugly pug nose. Real bats arent that slobbery and
rubbery; theyre actually quite sleek, in their way, even if they are sometimes
grotesque. Of course, you can only do so much with puppets, and it seems most of the
budget went into movement controls. They do move pretty well in some scenes, so you can
kind of forgive the execution of the puppet.
Oh, but now we see the original test subjects, on a nearby roof
they could very
well be Dracula, for that matter, though they are unusually brightly lit for bats.
They put a tracking device
on the captured bat
injecting it? Stapling it on? Dont they usually put a tag
on their ankles or something? Do they have to inject it in the small of their backs? Does
it hamper a bats aerodynamics to have a blinking red metal thing sticking out of its
back? Arent there vital flying muscles in the back that are being pierced by the
retaining pin on the tracking device? Well, it doesnt really matter: the big
uns recognize the beacon, and take the bat out in mid-air. Not only are they smart
and accurate, theyre flying Ninja bats, able to slice up a bat into so much sushi.
No, that would be a flying fish, not a bat. Sorry.
After that, they realize the town is in danger. The film obligingly starts setting up
showing us a woman taking in the laundry, a sleeping rubber baby doll,
people in a diner
and then setting up tension with flashes of motion, odd noises,
and puppets in vaguely threatening positions. At least they dont have a
Spring-loaded Cat, as they say over on the Jabootu
why bother with the fake out when you can just slam them with the real bat, you
know? Real being a relative term.
Personally, I have two favorites: the bat hanging off the clothes-line, and the bat
crawling up the bar to look at the mans food before launching at his face. And the
kid playing the arcade game doesnt have a clue. Unlike the convenience store clerk
in Grosse Pointe Blank, he doesnt have an excuse like overly loud
earphones; no, hes just stupid, as a grown mans dying screams can cut through
the noise of just about any video game or TV program. From one who knows, my friends...
Our heroes reach the town, to find that all the warnings they gave, all the time they
spent stressing about panicking the people, was wasted. The town is all going about their
business as normal. Apparently, closing the beaches wont work if the residents enjoy
shark-bating. Or whatever the bat equivalent is. Dr. Dina now demonstrates her super
powers, because like Daredevil, she can hear the bats sonar, the echolocation.
Nobody else seems to, but soon they dont have to, as the bats swarm down to the
supersonic strains of "Ride of the Valkyries." Well, not really, but I could
swear I heard a
"Death from Above" on helium. Well, not really.
Okay, I know theres lots of bats flying around, but to put it bluntly, bats
dont run into things. Sure, you could say that because theyre more aggressive,
they might slam into people as kind of an attack, but their bones are hollow; it would do
as much damage to them as it would to the human. Unless the virus has been reinforcing
their skeletal systems, in which case old CSGWAHA should really have mentioned it. They
hit people, power lines
maybe theyre filled with self-loathing, for having
been turned into slobbering rubber monstrosities? I know I would be.
Theres so much here in this section, Im only going to point
out three things.
Number one, it seems that omnivorous aggressive bats like to stalk their prey. Never
mind that they dont have much species experience of it, and those that hunt usually
do so by swooping and snatching their insect prey out of the air. Blitzkrieg,
death-from-above attacks are their specialty, but these boys like to crawl up on their
prey, apparently enjoying the fear and panic that they cause. Must be the virus.
Incidentally, we get a glimpse of Batcam during this period, which apparently is just a
squashed, distorted filter over a regular Point of View shot. The POV shot is, of course,
a tradition, showing where the monsters are by showing us how they view their targets.
Number two, it is now officially impossible for Hollywood to create a movie action
scene without explosions. In a place where the monsters are smallish flying mammals, they
still manufacture excuses for transformers to blow up, easily exploded cars to smash into
buildings and other cars, various fuel containers, and such to catch fire. Viva Hollywood!
Number three, Kimsey is an incredible shot! Hes in the middle of a street blowing
up, and people screaming and attacked by bats from all angles. Hes got an automatic,
Im not good enough on guns to identify it, but it seems smaller than a .45, possibly
a Beretta or something. His targets are zippy, flappy, tiny, basically very hard to hit,
but every bullet he fires turns a bat into a fine red mist. But he cant hit either
of the big monster original bats, literally to save his life. I guess they operate under
the Mooks to Level Boss rule; you can wade through the common thugs easily, but the big
baddie is going to be unkillable, even invulnerable, until the final reel.
The bat puppets are unavoidably cute, though, in a bulldog, E.T. kind
of way. Rather of spoils the fear factor.
The whole Batcam technique is kind of annoying. While I approve of POV shots, there has
to be a better way to swing it than this, especially as were dealing with an animal
that does not use sight as a primary sense. Perhaps thats the reasoning behind the
distortion, but its not enough. They could have gone the Predator route, and given
us an unusual way of viewing it, instead of just a distorted shot, but I suppose they blew
their effects budget on the flying things.
The only cheesecake we get is when Dr. Dina has to shuck her jacket and get down to a
tank-top while hiding in the theater ticket booth. Admittedly, its not that kind of
exploitation flick, and Dina has plenty of other assets besides her looks. Still, a guy
Aw, man. Cliché city. Even the screaming "No!" with the outstretched
and then everything stops. What, that was the signal to stop the bat attack?
We are now about 45 minutes into a 90 minute movie. The bats have been introduced, the
town has been decimated, huge chunks of the population are dead
and Dr. Dina has
formed an emotional connection with this supporting character none of us really know, and
none of us really liked. Time to call in the Army and get this bat-fry underway! By the
way, all these bat scratches and bites, and nobody suggests a rabies series?
I must note that it seems very Snake Plissken-esque of Dr. Dina, to pick up a discarded
chair and just sit down on the street while theyre thinking over their next move.
Okay, so they call in the military to handle it. The military gives them
a time limit to handle it themselves. They then get our heroes access to spy satellite
technology. Then they say they want to be as hands-off about this as possible. I really
dont know what to make of all that.
They go and hole up in a school building. Personally, I would have thought something
with very few windows would have been better, though I cant argue with the thick
walls, nor the computer access. D.J. Sheriff Fresh Kimsey puts on some old records for
working music, and we shift to the preparation montage. For this kind of thing, Im
used to hearing heavy metal, or at the very least, the A-Team theme. Instead, its
opera. I like it; at least theyre trying to be different.
So they fortify the school, and get ready. The crew is Dr. Dina, Kimsey, Jimmy, and
CSGWAHA. Why keep him along? Well, he volunteered. Of course, when things got tough, and
there was friction between him and the others, he got on his cell phone
exactly? Is this really the time to check your voicemail? Or call in to your bosses,
"the Sheriff is threatening me. Have him killed, will you?"
So, theyve walled themselves in, sealed it up so the bats should be kept out, and
then they get the idea to freeze the roost, making the bats sleep and then die when they
freeze. Wait, they have the idea to go freeze the roost, but only after theyve
fortified themselves? I guess, since they have 48 hours, they focus on surviving the first
night, and then doing something the next day. Still it seems out of place.
When they get the call to prepare the big cooling machine, the Army guys are willing to
listen to Dr. Dina. But the Creepy Bureaucratic Guy With A Hidden Agenda has the idea to
go now. It wasnt just random research, my friends, it was official military US
Gummint bad mojo, weapons development. Typical. If its not the Company, its
the military. So they head off in the darkness to put the cooler into the bat homes. Raise your hand if you knew
this was a bad idea. Boy, how many soldiers see a CGI bat face lunging toward them as
their last sight?
Now we find out that CSGWAHA has flipped. When he was making his cell-phone call, he
was calling the Monster bats, the ringleaders. Seems the bats have a really good cellular
program, with good roaming charges and unlimited minutes. And it seems he wants everybody
else to give up, get killed. Oh, wow, hes snapped. I do not hesitate to say
hes gone batsh*t. Sorry, I guess that would be, hes gone guano.
Facts I did not know: bats can chew through chain-link fence. What kind of virus
increases bone strength like that while maintaining weight? These guys should be too heavy
to fly. We get odd, occasional views from the Batcam
which doesnt seem to make
much sense. Theyre just using the distortion filter, even when theres no bat
from the angle. It stops being a POV thing, and just starts getting gratuitous. Further,
theres that Blair Witch shaking again. Gah. Im getting a headache from
watching this. On the up note, Ms. Bat-pacifist has really gotten into it, bashing them
with blunt objects, stomping on their heads
the only way she could get more violent
would be to bash them to death with her bare hands! Little Dr. Dina, hopping through the
forest, picking up the rabid bats
How hungry are these bats, anyway? They dont seem to be acting out of hunger,
just killing whatever they can find. We were told the bats were more aggressive, and
omnivorous. But theyre still basically animals, except for the two ringleaders,
right? Well, they aint acting like it, let me just say right now.
After much headache-inducing camera work, the bats all fly off. Well, almost all. The
two main monsters are left, and theyre stalking CSGWAHA.
Seems he called them there, and they want to kill him, because hes the only one who
knows how to stop them. So naturally he goes off into the open, and lets them. If it
werent the traditional end of movie mad scientists, Id give it more notice.
Just ask Liz at And You
Call Yourself A Scientist!; shell tell you all about it. The rest of the night
goes quickly, and the next morning, they go to the site of the roost to find the military
is planning an air strike.
In there movies, the military never seems to listen to the experts. The only exceptions
I can think of would be when theres some little kid in disturbing short pants who
has psychically bonded with a giant monster, but that only seems to occur in Japan.
Theyve been told repeatedly that blowing up the entrance to the roost will only
cause the bats to scatter, not kill all of them, and then the plague will spread across
the country. So: blowing up the cave equals ineffective. Thats why they brought the
cooler, so the bats would get frozen as they slept, and would all stay together. Of
course, the Army guys all got kilt before they could turn it on. Kind of puts a hitch in
the plan, there. But our intrepid heroes are prepared for that. Theyre going to turn
it on themselves.
So they put on these Abyss helmets, the full-face breathing gear that still
allows you to see their expressions. Not necessarily the most practical: I imagine
theyd be prone to fogging due to breath and all, but still, a dramatic necessity.
With helmet cams a-running, they descend. Jimmy stays above ground, a potential survivor
(which would be unusual, as I think Deep Blue Sea is the only movie Ive seen
recently where the minority survived the human buffet
As we are all familiar with B-movie monster
conventions (and if youre not, pay attention), we already know what comes next.
Theres some kind of showdown between the heroes and the big bats, theres
probably a great deal of tension, and given that Dr. Dina is a sane scientist,
theres probably going to be something with her outsmarting the bats, perhaps by
making a crude cannon out of bamboo, sulfur, charcoal, and some diamonds
thats the Star Trek episode with the Gorn.
You will also note that they make a plan and then basically ignore it, just like
theyve done in the past. Further, there seems to be a shaft of sunlight in the main
roost chamber, yet later they say theyve sealed it, but then they cut back and
theres still that shaft of sunlight. Weird, that. Oh, and theres the typical
set up for a possible sequel
watch for it!
One good thing that they did, they didnt force the two leads into a romantic
relationship. I mean, they were attractive people surviving in a tough situation.
Its not the least bit strange that they would have some kind of bond after all that
was done, but real romance requires quite a lot more than simple attraction. Simple
attraction is great for one-night stands and other temporary liaisons, but if youre
going to build it up as anything more than that, you have to really push to show it, give
it a reason to be. They didnt do that in this film, and if theyd tried to
manufacture a romance to go with the action, it would have rung so completely hollow.
However, they did a great job and sidestepped that whole issue.
As a B-movie, this is pretty good. The B-movie scale is so much more forgiving than an
A-movie scale. It was fun, the effects were generally enjoyable, even with a few
difficulties, and there were solid performances throughout. Its not something I
would recommend as indicative of our cultural heritage (except as a negative example), but
if you just want some amusement for around two hours, this
is fine for the job.
The inestimable Hofferator would have done this movie a fine benefit, though. With him
a part of the action, Dr. Dina couldnt help but fall in love, and his lifeguarding
skills would have come in handy in the midst of all that guano. Best of all, Ill bet
K.I.T.T. would have come up with a way to jam the poor bats echolocation, so that
theyd all be helpless. Then you could just walk up and squish em. Much more
cost-effective, like the final solution to the Martian Invasion in Mars Attacks.
But then again, perhaps that would have made for a dull movie.
Cute/ugly natural bats, as opposed to cute/ugly bat puppets.
- The CSGWAHA, who you just know is going to lose his marbles at the end, practically
from his first close-up.
- The gripping put-the-bat-in-the-cage scene.
- TOTAL PANDEMONIUM IN THE STREETS! The bat apocalypse has come! Bow down, petty
humans, before the massed legions of the Bat Army! Detroit Rock City! No, wait,
thats the Kiss
- Bat Cam! Dada, dada, dada, dada, Bat Cam! Bat Cam! Bat Cam! Bat Cam!
- Dr. Dina shows cheesecake, or as much as this movie will manage.
The gearing up to fight bats at the school montage. Only assistance B.A.
and Mad Dog could have made it a better montage. Sometimes, I miss Hannibal.
- Enough with the Bat Cam, already.
More explosions than you can shake a stick at. Power lines explode, cars
explode, rocks explode, bats explode. "Look, were breaking our own rules,
better throw in an explosion to distract the audience." Of course it works; Im
an American Male. But still, you notice East Texas is exploding a lot more than usual.
-- Copyright © 2000 by E. Mark Mitchell
And You Call
Yourself A Scientist!
Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension