Tuesday, 24 March 2015
The Vampire Bat (1933)
I have to admire the lengths to which Majestic Films went in order to make this cheapie cash-in movie. There's none of that lazy "let's make a movie with a passingly similar premise and slightly different title" Asylum shonkiness, here. Instead, seeing the buzz that Mystery of the Wax Museum was generating, Majestic hired the two leads of the bigger studio's film, rented the sets from Frankenstein, and churned out this little number fast enough to beat its big budget cousin to the cinema.
The Vampire Bat proved a success for Majestic; probably not surprising given the high profile stars (one of them was Fay Wray, who later that year would make a little movie about a big ape) and high quality sets. These make the film appear much more slick and expensive than it really was. Given the tawdry look and feel of most "Poverty Row" productions, that was likely a big help.
The script was probably of significantly less help. It's by the numbers stuff: There are a series of bizarre murders (in this case vampire themed). A local eccentric is falsely accused. The real villain is revealed to be someone close to the hero. The murderer's reasons even come back to Science Run Amok, which is about as generically generic a motive as you can get in 1930s genre flicks.
So what we ultimately have is a pretty standard 'cheapie chiller' with an unusual degree of gloss to it. Frankly, the most interesting part of the film is the story of its production. It's not bad, you understand, and fills its hour-long run time in a painless manner. But it's also not anything special, and can safely be skipped.