The Bat

Synopsis: When it flies, someone DIES!

Mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) has rented a remote mansion for the summer. One night, a prowler tagged “The Bat” invades the guarded house, terrorizing Cornelia and her maid. The resourceful novelist decides to set a trap to capture “The Bat.”

Based on the Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood play, and featuring the incomparable Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon and former Our Gang star Darla Hood as a murder victim, The Bat is a chilling horror classic.

The Bat 6.0

I’m a HUGE Vincent Price fan. I haven’t seen all of his films, and I suspect that I never will, considering the sheer number of roles he’s taken on over his long career (on top of that, most of them are probably not even available on home video!). Having said that, I still have at least thirty Vincent Price films and continue to snatch up copies of the ones I don’t already have when I get the chance.

…including ‘The Bat’.

Considering Price’s reputation for the macabre, it would be easy to expect a vampire or monster movie with a title like this one – especially since it came out right after ‘The Fly’ and ‘The Tingler’. Both of those films were memorable additions to Price’s career and helped to cement his association to the horror genre – something which was made permanent by his association with the Edgar Allen Poe films of the next few years.

Sadly, this particular film was probably only someone’s quick buck scheme, because the “bat” in question is nothing more than a prowler who goes by that moniker. Further cementing my thought that this was some producer’s get-rich-quick idea is the fact that the script seriously lacks bite and the production’s sets and costumes seem to have been inherited from another film – truly, if a film could ever be a hand-me-down, this one was it!

Even the story is second-hand: a banker decides to disappear with a fortune in bonds, and the prowler is on the hunt for these missing bonds, terrorizing (and dispensing with) friends and family, in what truly is a poor man’s film noir. Actually, as far I’m concerned, this surely must be that era’s equivalent of a b-movie – or what today would have been a straight-to-video endeavour.

There is one element of note, to me, however: the female lead is a rare instance (in that era) of a strong role for women – she is decisive, intelligent and keeps her wits about her the whole way through. The only issue is that the actress who landed the role overplays it at times and, thus, strips credibility from the character. Still, it’s a strong element in a decidedly weak film that not even Vincent Price could elevate – despite is unmistakable presence.

‘The Bat’ is nothing more than a rat with well-worn wings.

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