|The Bat (1959)
Run time: Approved | 80 min | Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Director: Crane Wilbur
Writers: Crane Wilbur, Crane Wilbur
Stars: Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon
An eerie old mansion, rented for the summer by mystery writer Moorehead, is the scene of fiendish goings-on. A faithful adaptation from the pen of crime writer Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Toronto Film Society is back in the theatre! However, we’re still pleased to continue to bring you films straight to your home! Beginning Season 73 until now we have...
Some people don’t like to watch anything that’s not in color…they don’t know what they’re missing. Some people look down at anything made in the fifties or sixties as hopelessly hokey…and they don’t know what they’re missing either. The Bat is a taut, suspenseful story, and one which proves gore isn’t strictly necessary in order to be frightening. Agnes Moorhead shows plenty of spunk, and the great Vincent Price steals every scene in which he appears.
The cinematography of this film is excellent…note the use of dark shadows to conceal and hide peoples’ identities, just as the dark mask hides the Bat’s face. Jump out of your skin as that eerily-clawed hand appears in frame for the first time. Ignore the truly awful fake-looking bat that appears for a few seconds. No movie’s perfect.
And play the adult version of the "Scooby Doo" mystery game…where you try to figure out who are the red herrings and who is the real murderer. It’s probably not who you think it is.
Agnes Moorhead (Endora of "Bewitched" fame) is a sheer delight as a cagey old bird of a mystery writer, and Price is wonderful in his seemingly dual role. As has been lamented here before, the brevity of Price’s screen time is somewhat disappointing but that is the only factor which disappoints.
I found this to be an inventive and disingenuous endeavor full of red-herrings and wrong turns. Figure this one out for yourself. Puzzle the clues, weed out the characters set here as distractions, look past the deliberate contrivances and solve the mystery on your own.
Excellent entertainment with a splendid darkling atmosphere which I found enormous fun to view. While this is not up to "Gaslight" or "Rebecca" standards, there are many worse ways to spend a late Saturday night, or a rainy Sunday afternoon.
It rates a 7.5/10 from…
the Fiend :.
This film is a lot better than you might expect. It follows the story of a wayward million dollars that is believed to be hidden within the walls of an old house. The inhabitants of the house are a female writer and her crew of servants…. oh, and a prowler known as ‘the bat’, who evidently wants the fortune for himself. The Bat is notable for a great macabre atmosphere that creates a sense of claustrophobia, as the house is in the middle of nowhere. It’s also notable for an early performance from Vincent Price, who appears as the doctor, Malcolm Wells. Price was better known in 1959 for the William Castle classic "House on Haunted Hill", but ‘The Bat’ is still an able entry in his list of acting credits. Price evidently grew as an actor throughout the 60’s and 70’s, but his early performances always have that x-factor that would go on to instill the man in the hearts of horror fans forever, and his performance here has that also.
The story itself has lots of room for tension and intrigue, and it makes best use of it as the film is constantly intriguing, and many scenes, particularly the ones involving the menacing bad guy, are filled with suspense. The film is at it’s best when ‘the bat’ is on the prowl, and features several lovely shots of the fiend poking his arm through various crevices in the house. The house itself is riddled with various traps and secret passages in true haunted house style, and it adds to the inventiveness and effectiveness of the movie. The film gives the twist away far too early, however, and it kind of spoils the ending as it turns out that, logically, there’s only one person who the bat could possibly be. It doesn’t really matter though, as the film is always a lot of fun and if you’re a fan of Vincent Price (and who isn’t?!), or just classic horror movies in general, I highly recommend this movie.
At least the third filmed version of story dealing with master criminal known as the "Bat" that steals and robs and kills. This version is probably the most brutal and certainly the most suggestive. Although shot on an extremely limited budget, The Bat is a pretty good little thriller, thanks in large part to the performances of Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead and a pretty good script. The story is one of those types that keeps throwing red herrings at you so you will have no idea who the real Bat is. I had no idea who the real Bat was. It also makes good use of a creepy old mansion and has some good comedic, subtle relief. Watch for Darla Hood of Little Rascals fame in a smaller role.