Monday, July 8, 2013

Movie Review: The Vampire Bat (1933)

The Vampire Bat
THE VAMPIRE BAT - Poster Image

Written by Edward T. Lowe Jr.
Directed by Frank R. Strayer

Karl Brettschneider...Melvyn Douglas
Ruth Bertin...Fay Wray
Dr. Otto Von Neimann...Lionel Atwill
Herman Glieb...Dwight Frye

The village of Kleinschloss has seen a recent rash of deaths in which the victims have all been found with two small puncture marks upon their necks. The superstitious burgomaster and his cronies have convinced the townsfolk that a vampire is at work, but Inspector Karl Brettschneider—in charge of the investigation—is more than a little skeptical (not to mention a totally hormonal asshole.) As in the completely unrelated Summer of Sam, fear and hysteria take over, placing the blame only not on a punk rocker but the village idiot Herman, who looks like a bombed-out ancestor of Leonardo Dicaprio. But there’s got to be more to it than that, right?

All of the old-school staples are here: flashy dames and pushy men; dark figures lurking in the shadows; angry mobs of villagers waving torches in the night; elaborate laboratories; and plenty of off-screen deaths. There’s little-to-no special effects to speak of and the acting is what you would expect from the era—that is, alternately stumbling and melodramatic—but still it is enjoyable on a “classic” level: It certainly won’t scare you, but it’s nice to get back to the roots every now and then, just to see how far things have come, even in this Disney-fied, WB typecast, PG-13 world. 

I only wish they had left out the character of hypochondriac Aunt Gussy, who was obviously written in only for comic relief to break the tension. The only funny thing, however, is that the filmmakers thought this film was tense enough to require comic relief.

Well, not funny ha-ha. More like funny strange.

Still having reservations?  Well, just check out that cast: Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill and Dwight Frye?  That's quite a trio.

Rated PG
64 Minutes
United States


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