The Devil Bat Cover Eye of newt and tongue of cat. Ear of donkey and bum of rat. Mix them all together within a bubbling vat. And what you end up with is the following 68 minute movie made in 1940. It was Directed by: Jean Yarbrough; and Starred: Béla Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O'Brien, with Guy Usher. What? You didn't think I was rhyming, did you?

The Devil Bat (In Color) - The Devil Bat (The Original)

Now try to see things from my perspective, my friends. And try to imagine what it would feel like if your employers denigrated all your hard work by offering you a token sum, plus an invitation to dinner.

It wouldn't make you feel right, would it? It would make you feel very cold and bitter inside and wanting to scream out for revenge. Well, that's what I felt, anyway. And that's why I fought back against my bosses at 'Heath Cosmetics', with a two phased attack of my own devising.

Firstly, I allowed my victims to dowse themselves with a shaving lotion I created in my lab. And then, when the time was just right, I set free my mutated bat to hunt down this scent and kill its intended target.

OK. I admit. My cunning plan isn't the type of scheme that would go unnoticed in the press. Especially when that foppish journalist, Johnny Layden (Dave O'Brien), plus his photographic aide, 'One-Shot' McGuire (Donald Kerr), are called in to investigate after two of my victims passed away.

But I couldn't careless about those two clowns! For I am the mad scientist called Doctor Paul Carruthers (Béla Lugosi). And that it why what next transpires gets a sharp pain in the neck when my boss's daughter, Mary Heath (Suzanne Kaaren), goes, 'EEEEEEEEEKKKkk'! As a stuffed-bird gets the blame - a journalist steps up his bloody game - two other victims take a fateful dive - and at the end of the day, a bat and a scientist never come out of this alive.

From on a purely cosmetics level I'd say 'The Devil Bat' was a really shoddy film. Most of the special effects looked nth rate at best. Where as most of the actors were as energetic as a piece of cardboard. However, having said all that, I still have to applaud two other aspects I thought this adventure had in spades. 

The Devil Bat Foreign Film Poster
Now the first aspect I want to mention is the associative quality the story-line seemed to exhume. Of course I'm not talking about that whole scenario where Béla's character created potions and bats to kill his intended victims. What I'm referring to is how you can kind of understand why Béla did what he actual did. I'm sure at one time or another nigh on all of us have been used or denigrated by our so-called superiors. And this in turn has made us want to lash out in defiance of their careless actions.

Again, not in the way Béla did. But in a way where you might want to say to your bosses, 'F*ck you ass-wh*le! I'm worth more than the sh*t your paying me!'.

Now the second aspect I want to mention is how two of the characters in this film -- specifically Dave O'Brien and Donald Kerr's characters -- helped prop up the whole narrative by giving it some real zeal and pizzazz. Honestly, whenever they were on screen they made the rest of the characters appear very flaccid and benign. Not implying that they hindered it in any way, shape, or form. It's just that these other actors felt a bit too 'prim and proper' somehow. Stiff even. And with a few noticeable exceptions by Béla plus the actor who played the editor, Dave and Donald's efforts were the stand-outs for yours truly.

The Devil Bat Starring Béla Lugosi

The Devil Bat Vintage Film Poster Starring Béla Lugosi and Suzanne Kaaren
Anyway. That's enough of that for the moment, dear reader. Here. Let's break-up my blah-blah-blah with the following filmic facts. (1) 'PRC' first released this production in America on the exact same day 'The Battle of Taranto' took place throughout the Mediterranean Sea. It was on the 11th of November, 1940. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Revenge Vampire' in Belgium; 'The Return of Dracula' in Brazil, and 'Vicious Bat' in Sweden. (3) There were two taglines used to promote this picture. The first one was, 'Sharp Fanged Blood Sucking DEATH Dives from MIDNIGHT SKIES!'. Where as the second one was, 'He's Trained His Brood of Blood-Hungry Bats to Kill on Command!'. (4) Jean Yarbrough, who was the director of this movie, was in the business from 1936 to 1971, and is best known for directing and producing 'The Abbot and Costello Show'. (5) References were made throughout this adventure stating that it was set in Illinois, Chicago, Peoria, and Springfield. But if you very look closely at the scenery shown at the beginning, you can clearly tell that it was based in California. (6) This low budget flick was one of PRC's biggest successes, and in 1946 they tried to recapture it with an inadvertent sequel called, 'Devil Bat's Daughter'. (7) In 1990 and 2010 this film was enhanced thanks to both 'Lumivision' and 'Legend Film', who colorized the print and restored the original negative. (8) After this flick fluttered in its belfry, Béla Lugosi starred in the comedy, 'You'll Find Out'; Suzanne Kaaren starred in the drama, 'Roar of the Press'; and Dave O'Brien starred in the western, 'Buzzy Rides the Range'.

The Devil Bat Starring Béla Lugosi and Suzanne Kaaren

Overall I'd say 'The Devil Bat' was a fairly fine film to sit down and watch. The acting styles were a mixed bag to say the least. The story-line was an associative one on a certain level. And all in all -- yeah -- good job. And I'd like to see it remade anytime soon.

Hint-hint! Nuff said.


THE DEVIL BAT (1940) THE DEVIL BAT (1940) Reviewed by David Andrews on June 23, 2014 Rating: 5
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