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The Bat, 1959

From the video case: Mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) has rented a remote mansion for the summer. One night, a prowler tagged “The Bat” invades the guarded house, terrorizing Cornelia and her maid. The resourceful novelist decides to set a trap to capture “The Bat.” (1959, b&w)

Mark says: This movie seems older than it is due to the stagy acting. The Bat is based on the play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood, so that accounts for its theatrical leanings.

Vincent Price (House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill) and Agnes Moorehead (Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte) make this a worthwhile production, but just barely.

I’m not a big fan of the “whodunit” genre, and so this film had to work harder to keep my attention. I admit that there is a bit of a guessing game as to the identity of the killer (we have so many red herrings thrown at us that the place reeks like a fish market), but when “The Bat” is finally unveiled, we’re not terribly surprised.

If I wasn’t such a big fan of Mr. Price, I doubt this movie would have held any value for me. However, his performance is strong enough to make the film interesting, and the movie is somewhat successful in setting a spooky/mysterious atmosphere, which helps its cause.

The Bat also features Gavin Gordon (1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum) as Lt. Andy Anderson, and Darla Hood, who you may remember as Darla from the Our Gang/Little Rascals series.

This picture is directed by Crane Wilbur, who also wrote the screenplay for Mysterious Island.

Scene to watch for: Lt. Anderson discovers that Dr. Wells (Price) has a suspicious bat shrine in his laboratory.

Line to listen for: “Only the shivers? Scared hell out of me!”

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

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