Bats (1999)

It’s almost reassuring to see a film like Bats arrive at your multiplex. It means that in an industry fueled by big names and big effects that a cheesy B-movie can still make it through production like the legions that spooked so many naive baby boomers. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves now. It is, after all, a B-movie.

Bats tries to be the winged mammal version of The Brids except not nearly as good. The “story” is of a mad scientist who genetically creates a race of super bats. Why? Well maybe the real question you should ask yourself is why not? Unfortunately the bats get released into a small sleepy town in Texas. The officials catch on, the populace refuses to believe, then… oh what does it matter?! You’ll be able to predict the rest faster than you can tie your shoelaces. Create a plot in your head to fill the void of this one. In my version of Bats space aliens came down and there was an intergalactic civil war between bat-people and humanity’s only source of hope in a band of four teenage girls each with amazing powers. This is what happens when you have to fend for yourself for entertainment.

What should be the most interesting part of Bats turns out to be the absolute lamest: the bats themselves. Were they created in some lab or did they just hibernate out of Fraggle Rock with a thirst for blood? They resemble small dogs with wings in all the amounts of quick-cut closeup shots to hide the fact that they didn’t have the budget to film more than six bats at one time. I don’t know if they’re supposed to come off as frightening or not, but mass hysteria from muppets just doesn’t seem too overwhelming to me.

If Bats were played for camp value it might be a moderately redeemable sense of dumb fun like Deep Blue Sea was earlier this year. Instead the bat wranglers try playing it for scares and skewed laughs, but the scales sure don’t come out even upon viewing. The flick really is laugh-out-loud bad like when one of the characters actually sells out humanity to help the bats, or the distraught and reckless teenagers getting their comeuppance for staying out after curfew like in so many other bad B-monster movies. This movie won’t be appearing on anyone’s resume list in the near future. I think even the Key Grips were ashamed to have had any hand in this. You can’t help but feel Bats missed its window of opportunity for success around the time film went to color. The only screaming you’ll be hearing anywhere in the vicinity of Bats is from people just realizing they spent seven dollars on this thing.

Nate’s Grade: D

This movie also revisited and analyzed in the article, “1999: The Greatest Year in Film? A Review Re-View.”

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on September 7, 1999, in 1999 Movies, Review Re-View and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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