Vampire Bat (1933)

MAY 7, 2008


There ARE 30s and 40s horror movies that don’t have Lionel Atwill and/or Dwight Frye, right? It seems one or both men turn up in every single old movie I watch, classy (Universal) or not (budget pack). Vampire Bat is one of the 598,569 examples, casting Atwill (looking very Udo Kier-y here) as the resident evil doctor and Dwight Frye as, shocker, a mumbling weirdo that scares everyone.

As these things go, it’s not too bad. Melvyn Douglas as Carl, the film’s “process of elimination” hero (he doesn’t DO anything, but everyone else has a defined role, so hero is all that’s left), is a particular delight, mainly because Carl is, quite frankly, a dick. He scoffs at just about everything anyone says, yet offers no theories of his own. The silly German accents also add to the enjoyment; I never tire of hearing someone discuss a victim’s “JOOG-you-lar vein”.

This also killed me:

So let’s break it down – the bad guy has a bottle of poison, which he has labeled “Sleeping tablets”. Now, either he needs to remind himself what he is telling people they are (or maybe he has different poisons that resemble different medicines), OR he is trying to fool someone who might find the bottle into thinking that they are indeed, actual sleeping pills, and that they ignore the painfully visible POISON label. Either way I laughed my ass off at the sight, hence the screengrab.

One bummer is that the vampire” turned out to be yet another crazy human. In the height of Dracula and such, I’m not sure why so many of these old movies turn out to have such non supernatural endings. This movie even goes the extra mile to throw you off track, as werewolves are also discussed at length, and yet never actually implemented into the storyline. Oh well.

IMdb lists the running time as 64-65 minutes, yet this copy ran a scant 59. Is the IMDb in error, or am I missing 5-6 minutes worth of Atwill talking about coffee and Douglas just being an insufferable cock? I would hate to think Mill Creek was half-assing their responsibilities and thus not providing its customers with the most complete, pristine version of these classics at a cost of 40 cents a piece.

What say you?


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