Bats

Bats is this year’s camp flick. With the world’s worst dialogue, cheesiest premise and stupidest editor, this one should be heaven for those who enjoy films humorous in their inanity. As for the rest of us, well… I’d say skip it, but looking at the box office figures for this one, it seems as though most of America is following that advice anyway. Follow their lead and you’ll spare yourself 90 minutes of your life and 8 bucks to boot.

I love Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, almost as much as I love the short story on which it is based. It saddens me even more, then, to see that American Treasure ripped off so blatantly by wannabe horror/schlock such as Bats. When mysterious bat attacks occur in a small Texas town, the authorities call in a batologist (Dina Meyer) to investigate. It turns out that a creepy scientist (Bob Gunton) has genetically enhanced a couple bats that escaped from his lab, making them smarter and more vicious. Why has he done this, you ask? Because, you see, it is apparently a scientist’s job to make things “a little better,” even if that means the death of all mankind.

So the batologist, her wisecracking sidekick and the town sheriff (Lou Diamond Phillips) have to kill all the bats and save the world. Of course, that can’t happen before they wallow in some guamo (bat shit, for the uninitiated), get up close and personal with some truly repulsive flying mammals and survive some of the dumbest situations ever seen in a professionally produced motion picture. Consider, for example, a scene where two people are in a bat cave. The bats are all sleeping, but the humans are afraid they might wake up before they can get out. What do they do? Do they get the hell out of there as fast as they can? Nope. They stand there for a while, transfixed by the thousands of bats opening their eyes.

What keeps Bats from being scary or creepy is the hyperactive editing in most of the attack scenes. We don’t even get to see what’s going on; the screen becomes a mush because the cuts are so quick. All we know is that bats are attacking. How they are attacking and what exactly is happening remains a mystery. A little technical proficiency does wonders for horror movies, and Bats sure could use some.

Of course, director Louis Morneau tries to liven things up with some intentional humor, but it is so conventional it doesn’t really go anywhere. Most of the ocmic relief comes courtesy of the batologist’s wisecracking sidekick (Leon), who takes every opportunity to sputter ingenious lines like “I hate bats!” Some of these are so bad that they take on a double quality: they may inspire a smirk by their very nature and a roaring laugh because they are so inept. I hate characters who exist for the sole purpose of spouting lame one-liners. Playing such characters does not help actors’ careers.

Still, I suppose that if you’re looking for a movie that is “so bad it’s good,” you could do worse than Bats. It does have a tremendous amount of camp value. I’m not “recommending” the movie because, quite frankly, it sucks, and I know that this might convince some people to go out and see it. More power to them.

-- Eugene Novikov

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Screening Log

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Ric Roman Waugh, 2013

Score: C

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Score: C+

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Jamie Linden, 2012

Score: B-

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Derek Cianfrance, 2013

Score: B+

Warm Bodies

Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

Beautiful Creatures

Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

The Chase

Arthur Ripley, 1946

Score: B

Street of Chance

Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

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Im Sang-Soo, 2013

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