Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Vampire Bat - The Night Brings Sharp Teeth

The Vampire Bat
Directed by Frank R. Strayer
Written by Edward T. Lowe Jr.
Starring Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Melvyn Douglas
Rated PG.  Approx. 65 Min.

These are the TALONS of The Vampire Bat

Alternative Titles
Blood Sucker - US Alternative Title

Forced to Sin - US Alternative Title
La vuelta del vampiro (The Return of the Vampire) Argentina
Vampire Bat - Germany
Sombras trágicas, ¿vampiros? (Shadows Tragic? Vampires?) - Spain Vampire Bat - Hungary
Il vampiro (The Vampire)Italy
El vampiro acecha (The Vampire Lurks) - Mexico

O Vampiro Invisível (The Vampire Invisible)Portugal

What exactly is in the beeker, anyway?

While The Vampire Bat is undeniably low budget and it most certainly was cashing in on the Universal monster films that were out at the time, the film still functions quite well on it's own merit.   The story involves a rash of murders in the quiet German village of  Kleinschloss.  It seems that people are being discovered dead in their beds with their blood completely drained.  It seems the only clue is two small puncture marks on the neck.  Naturally the village suspicions turn to a resurgence in vampirism....though police inspector Karl Brettschneider doesn't believe in vampires and sets off looking for a human killer.

Poor Herman is always getting pushed around by the townfolk.

It isn't long before accusations start to fly towards Herman, a mentally retarded man who has a fondness for bats.  As the town hunts down poor Herman, Karl works with Dr. Otto Von Niemann to uncover the identity of the killer.  Oddly, the good doctor seems to have no problem going along with the whole vampire thing, which is a change from the usual "scientist rejects all claims of the supernatural" schtick they usually pull.  The movie takes a few turns and twists.  The revelation of the killer was actually a bit of a surprise to me.  Whether that be because I was a little sleepy when I watched it or because this is a very well crafted thriller, I'll let you decide.

Now poor Herman is being HUNTED by the townfolk.....nothing like a lynch mob in the morning.....

The Vampire Bat was released by Majestic Pictures, who I had never heard of before.  They produced 24 pictures between 1930 and 1935 before fading into obscurity.  Of the 24 films produced there is only one other that I've ever heard of:  The Phantom Express (1932).  Majestic also functioned as a distributor....having distributed 25 films, none of which I've ever heard of.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  We've got six deaths during the film, and several others that are mentioned.

Nude-O-Meter:  No sir....there isn't even a rumbling on the the meter....

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  There are foul creatures afoot in the night.  Are there really vampires?  I'm not telling.

Final Thoughts
This is a murder mystery wrapped up in a vampire motif and it lends itself quite nicely to a dark and stormy night.  At a mere 65 minutes you can fit this film in just about anywhere on a Halloween Horror Moviethon.  Definitely worth a watch for fans of classic horror flicks

Final Rating
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

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