The Bat (1959)
“The housekeeper, the cook and the butler
said that they heard strange noises at night,
and the upstairs maid swore she met a man without a face coming up the back stairs.”
Agnes Moorehead (from Bewitched) stars as Cornelia Van Gorder, a murder mystery author who rents a home with a bit of a past in a small town that has its own folk legend in a killer with the name of The BAT!
As she is there, one million US dollars is stolen from the bank with the bank manager coincidentally disappearing.
The bank manager is also the person renting the house to Cornelia (don’t call her Gordy) and this is also the time the Bat decides to reappear.
If you ask me all these events are linked.
We meet local the local Doctor, Malcolm Wells, played by Vincent Price who is going to be busy in the next couple of days with all the murders about to happen.
Cornelia and her maid are terrorised during the first night from our masked murderer who wears a black mask and on his left hand a glove with hooked blades, think a cross between Freddy Krueger and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman.
Well, maybe not.
Judging from the way the Bat moves I don’t think the actor could see too well behind that mask.
Can they survive the Bat or will he get what he is after.
I watch a lot of old films, I prefer them to modern ones but back then and especially with low budget ones they can be a bit simple, story wise. This usually means the twist for instance aren’t that intricate but sometimes we end up with something we are plagued with more and more in horror films these days… stupid people making stupid decisions.
Rather than leave the house after their first encounter with the Bat, they stay.
The next day when they have guest around and find a body of someone that was murdered only minutes earlier, they stay.
Not only stay but invite the guest that found the body to spend the night in the house, and they agree.
And so it continues.
The police are useless, people linked to the house are murdered all over town and still they stay, ignore advice given whilst at the home then when more people are murdered, still they stay and continue to ignore the rules.
The rules given to them are simple enough to understand but they can’t quite seem to follow them. If ever there’s a time that staying home won’t save lives this is it.
At least stay alert.
Surely no-one can be confused by that.*
Despite that, this it is a Vincent Price film and therefore you know what to expect which to fans of his will probably find this enjoyable.
It does the basics well of throwing out enough red herrings to keeps you guessing long enough who is the Bat and the back and forth between Gordy and her maid is classic old spinster ladies.
I watched the colourised version which is just like the previous colourised Vincent Price films I’ve reviewed and works well enough here for me. It has that sort of light-brown hue to it as if it was from an overwatched VHS but that’s what I call nostalgic.
Adds some depth to the image but there’s always the B&W version for those that don’t like it which will probably be most people.
An interesting titbit is that this is one of several adaptations of a Broadway play called The Bat, with the killer from the 1930 version being an inspiration for Batman.
Watch it here