Bela exacts revenge by releasing giant killer bats to destroy the family that did him wrong.
* PRC Studios
* Starring Bela Lugosi, Dave O’Brien, Suzanne Kaaren
* Directed by Jean Yarbrough
Probably the most entertaining film ever released by PRC, the lowest of poverty-row studios, THE DEVIL BAT is delicious and ultra-cheap fun for all Bela Lugosi fans.
It takes place in Heathville, where the Heath family is planning to give the chemist of their cosmetics firm,Dr. Carruthers (Lugosi), a $5000 bonus for his years of loyal work. In the meantime, the good doctor is busy in his laboratory perfecting a perfume which the giant bats he’s creating hate.
When one of the Heath boys goes to deliver the check, he concocts a plot to market the perfume as a “new shaving lotion” and exacts revenge because he could have made millions like the Heaths if he hadn’t sold out his share, so he’s bitter, you see. He talks Roy Heath into trying the lotion and later (with plenty of wires and string) the giant bat is released and kills him. Of course, the family calls on Dr. Carruthers (who else?) to investigate.
Meanwhile, as is common in movies of this type, a reporter (Dave O’Brien) and photographer from the big city are sent to investigate the story. In the interim, another Heath son is murdered in the same way. A noted “scientist” says that mouse hairs are found on the victim and it’s fun to see Bela downplaying this imbecile's diagnosis.
You have to be blind in one eye and not see out of the other to not figure out what’s happening and that Bela is responsible. Near the end, the reporter douses Bela himself with the lotion (who protests that he “dislikes perfumes” which makes his choice of profession rather odd) and the bat gets Bela, saving the life of the Heath daughter (Suzanne Kaaren).
Everything is amusing in this hour-long corny film if you’re not too exacting. Actor Lugosi, as always, attacks his role with real relish, especially when presented with the bonus check and he has a great inner dialogue scene as only he can. The rest of the cast includes never-wases like O’Brien who’s been in everything from 42ND STREET to MGM cheap short films and Kaaren, appearing in maybe three other pictures during her distinguished career.
Jean Yarbrough, the director, went on to direct The Abbott and Costello TV show of the 1950’s. PRC (Producers’ Releasing Corporation) had a well-merited reputation as the nadir of cheap 1940’s studios and this is one of their few works you can sit through, even with the cardboard sets.
This was admittedly a short review, but it was longer than the movie. Recommended by Curt, so don’t miss it the next time you have an hour to spare (or waste?)
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Curt Solash, Curt Loves Oldies, cinemaphile, THE DEVIL BAT, PRC Studios, Bela Lugosi, Dave O’Brien, Suzanne Kaaren, Jean Yarbrough, sunny harbor publishing, gay travelers magazine, movie review, old movies,