Bats

dir Louis Morneau scr John Logan
with Dina Meyer, Lou Diamond Phillips, Leon, Bob Gunton, Carlos Jacott
Columbia 99/US 2 out of 5 stars


Review by Rich Cline
Now here we go, a resolutely B-movie thriller with delusions of grandeur. Bats is a low-budget Jaws knock-off (yes, even after all these years!) about a mad doctor who tampers with nature, unleashing a breed of particularly vicious bats on a small Texas community. It's all here: corny dialog, bad special effects, cheesy makeup, loopy scientific explanations and unbelievably stupid people (who obviously never watch movies).

Our bat expert is Dr Sheila Casper (Meyer) sent with her comic-relief partner (Leon) to investigate a brutal attack on a young couple who were, of course, making out in a car when they were attacked. The earnest local sheriff (Phillips) is sure they can stop the terror, but then they find out that a megalomaniac government-funded scientist (Gunton) has doctored the DNA ("Why did you do it?" they ask. "I'm a scientist, that's what we do!" he replies). So now our intrepid heroes must find a way to stop these unstoppable creatures before they overrun America!

There are so many gratuitous explosions and pyrotechnics in this film that you almost think it was directed by that guy who does the fireworks in Sydney each year. Written by one of Gladiator's cowriters, the predictable screenplay takes itself just a bit too seriously--there are a few witty moments, but not nearly enough. The cast is also a bit too straight, trying to convince us that they're terrified of these snarling gargoyle-like bats and seemingly unaware of what a ludicrous movie they were making. Still, plenty of things in the story keep us chuckling. Like the way the scientist casually makes the bats smarter, more aggressive, telepathic and carnivorous as if everyone knows how to do it. Ah well, there are a few scary moments at least. And it's nice to know that silly little thrillers like this can still get made in these oh-so-sophisticated days.

[15--violence, language] 16.Jun.00
US release 22.Oct.99; UK release 23.Jun.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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