Bats

Directed by Louis Morneau
Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, León, Bob Gunton.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of bat attacks, and brief language.

Review by Matt Heffernan
October 23, 1999

Many films have their title changed before they are released. Rocket Boys became October Sky, and Eaters of the Dead became The 13th Warrior. A film called Blood Moon was made, but apparently the producers realized that their target audience wouldn't remember that title. If you're going to sell this film to a pubescent moron, you have to call it Bats.

Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer) and her plucky research assistant, Jimmy (León), are brought to Texas to handle an emergency situation concering their specialty: bats. Dr. Frankenst... I mean, Dr. McCabe (Bob Gunton) has imported a couple of Indonesian bats called "flying foxes" for an experiment with a synthetic virus. The bats got loose, and spread this virus to other bats, making them stronger, more intelligent, and basically invincible.

The local sheriff, Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips) helps Dr. Casper and Jimmy try to control the bats. Even the maniacal Dr. McCabe wants to help, or so it seems. Of course, Sheila doesn't want to kill the bats, but they are killing people left and right, even two kids in a parked car (at the beginning of the movie, of course). The military wants to carpet-bomb the place, and get everybody out in 48 hours. Emmett is committed to saving his town from being destroyed, so he and the crew must expedite efforts to destroy the bats.

I mean, come on! You go into a movie called Bats, and what are you expecting? You know it's not Hitchcock directing, so forget anything approaching The Birds. In fact, it's schlockmeister Louis Morneau in the chair (Carnosaur 2). One thing I'll say in its favor: it really is so bad that it's good. The character of Dr. McCabe is unabashedly clichéd. Gunton has done some great work in films like Glory and The Shawshank Redemption; he must have known how ridiculous his role was. Of course, the whole film was just as bad, so he at least seemed to have fun with it.

Morneau's directorial "style" leaves much to be desired. He doesn't even try to rip off Hitch, and instead moves the camera about so wildly, that I couldn't even watch. If The Blair Witch Project gave you motion sickness, don't even attempt to watch this one. Since the content is so horrible, you wouldn't have a reason to watch it anyway, unless you suffer from some sort of mental incapacity.

My suggestion would be to wait until this little gem finds its way to television. Then, you can openly berate it with your friends, à la "Mystery Science Theater 3000", without offending the rapt cretins at the cineplex.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Bats (1999/I)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Bats (1999) -- VHS
Bats (1999) -- DVD


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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan