Monday, October 19, 2009

The Bat (1959)

Three years ago I was given a collection of horror movies. Fifty horror "classics" on 12 DVDs. Of course, all of those movies are in the public domain, and some are not by any stretch of logic "horror" films. The Bat is one, regardless of how IMDB categorizes it.

A mystery writer (Agnes Moorehead) rents a spooky old mansion deep in the woods. Rumors of a murderer named "The Bat" scare most of the servants away. Vincent Price plays a doctor. Sounds like horror so far.

A million dollars was embezzled from the local bank and everyone thinks it might be stored in the house. The Bat sneaks into the house looking around and scares the writer and her maid. We have several suspects, including the butler, Dr. Price, and maybe even the new cook. False clues lead us all around.

Now knowing who the killer was, the movie makes less sense. We know what the killer's objective was (the loot) and what he knew, and when. His course of action simply doesn't make any sense. Many mystery stories don't stand up to that kind of analysis, but that doesn't mean I should give them a free pass.

Spooky? Not really. Suspenseful? Somewhat. Horror? Please. The killer was a thief wearing a fancy costume. No insanity, nothing supernatural, just a mystery. Not a bad mystery on the whole, but by no means horror.

Darla Hood of Our Gang fame made her last appearance in a motion picture, and a forgettable one at that. While working on a Little Rascals reunion in 1979 she had minor surgery. She contracted acute hepatitis then suddenly died.

This is a well made film all around. Vincent Price always makes a movie better. Not much of a horror movie, but judging it as a mystery, it's a fair film. AMRU 3. Watch it here.

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