Countdown to Halloween: The Bat People (1974)
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
WHY I'VE NEVER SEEN IT
Due to name alone, The Bat People has been on my watch list for a long, long time. I have no excuse for not watching it before now, although I may have had a sonar-like sense that I needed to be in the right mood.
WHY I BOUGHT IT
I passed on it many times before I finally selected it from my Shout! Factory wish list. Continue reading to learn why I wanted to own such an obscure film...
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT
It seems I have an affinity toward movies that feature man/bat hybrids... regardless of the quality. First, I enjoy The Twilight People (1972) and now I also enjoy The Bat People (1974). There's very little reason to call them "good" movies, but they sure are fun to watch (the former probably more than the latter.) This makes sense, I suppose. My favorite superhero is Batman, while my favorite supervillain is Man-bat. Ironically, I don't like bats at all; they're super creepy to me.
The first thing you need to know about The Bat People is that the title is misleading. There are no "people." There's one "person," making the film a variation of the familiar werewolf legend. Dr. John Beck (Stewart Moss) is attacked by a bat when he and his new bride, Cathy (Marianne McAndrew), step off the beaten path of a cave tour for a little honeymoon hanky-panky. He's already plagued by recurring nightmares featuring deadly bats, so perhaps this is his destiny.
What follows is a very standard, very plodding movie with its sole originality lying in the makeup job by early-in-his-career special effects wizard Stan Winston (here, credited as Stanley). We don't catch a good glimpse of the man-bat until the end of the movie, but the glimpses of a webbed hand or bloodshot eye prior to that provide a good buildup for the big moment. From long shots, it looks like a simple mask; but, up close, it's interestingly detailed.
The Bat People is a movie you could easily play in the background as you're working on other things. Some scenes, including a ski vacation and a car chase, drag for too long. But the ending is appropriately gruesome, concluding a surprising subplot relevant in the Me Too age 44 years after the fact. Then, there's also a nice little twist. It's slow but fun. One disappointment is that there's no flying. In The Twilight People, at least the man-bat flew.
Written by Lou Shaw Directed by Jerry Jameson Starring Stewart Moss, Marianne McAndrew, Michael Pataki, Paul Carr Released January 30, 1974 (San Francisco) RT 93 min. Home Video Shout! Factory (Blu-ray)
ABOUT THE COUNTDOWN
We all have them... stacks of movies we've purchased, but never watched; or, movies on the DVR, filling them to capacity. This year for the annual Countdown to Halloween, I'm going to make a dent in my "stack," watching one movie a day for the month of October that I've never seen, then writing about it.
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