80 min., 1959
Written by Crane Wilbur
Directed by Crane Wilbur
My rating: ★★
A classic mystery with tiny bits of horror mixed in
* * *
Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead), who writes mystery novels, has just moved into (well just renting) the home of John Fleming (Harvey Stephens). While there, Lizzy (Lenita Lane) who is Cornelia’s good friend reads in the paper about a killer who has been dubbed “The Bat” and that he tends to attack women. What he does is karate chop people in the neck and then “rip” out a chunk of their neck. They get a little creeped out and rightfully so, because The Bat seems to have his sights on this house in particular. Why you may ask? Well that was dealt with while we were meeting Cornelia and Lizzy. You see John Fleming and his close friend Dr. Malcolm Wells (Vincent Price) are in the woods when John tells Malcolm about how he has stolen a million dollars and he wants the doc’s help to fake his own death so they can retrieve the money without suspicion. Malcolm thinks it’s a good idea, but now he knows where the money is, so he kills John and sets about to get the money himself. But when he returns, it seems that everyone in town knows about the missing money. Who will get the money first? And who is The Bat?
The acting is very unbalanced, at best. You have Vincent Price doing a fine job as the doc. He pulls off the kindhearted as well as he does the uncaring. He comes of a bit like he just stepped off the stage, but it works just fine. Then you have Gavin Gordon as Andy Anderson, the police officer. He is just trying way too hard for the character’s own good and every time he’s on camera he is just trying with all his might to pull the viewers towards him. He does succeed, but when your eyes do go to him, it more of an “Ohhh, he trying so hard, but failing.” The rest of the cast is good enough (especially for the times) and most of their characters are made believable enough. Then there is Agnes Moorehead. She was great. With dialogue like “I have a gun, and I know how to use it,” she pulls off with a pretty good conviction. She could have laughed (okay everyone could have) at most of her dialogue, but she took it all in stride and worked great with what she was given.
There were so few effects in the movie that the only one worth mentioning is the bat that bites Lizzy. Holy shit does it look bad. Bad doesn’t even describe it. Dracula from the ’30s has more believable bats than this. When it’s first shown, I really thought it was supposed to be a toy and not an actual bat. But then it was supposed to be flying and man oh man, I nearly cried with laughter. Other than that there were no other effects that really come to mind.
This is a movie that barely falls into the category of horror and is more of a mystery than anything else. Does that make it a bad movie? Nope. It’s actually an enjoyable movie. But like some of the others that I’ve reviewed, it only gets a one, because of the lack of horror elements, but as a mystery it would get a three hands down. Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead are what really make this movie. The story is just a classic mystery and the characters fit perfectly into that setting. The Bat’s (the character not the creature) costume is actually pretty neat looking. It reminds me of a faceless and colorless Freddy Krueger, with catlike claws instead of long blades. It’s also fun to try and figure out who the killer is. Can you figure out who it is on the first guess? Probably not (and yes that is a challenge).Have You Read...?