The Bat (1959) – By Duane L. Martin

You know, this could just be a four word review.

Vincent Price. ‘Nuff said.

I guess I should actually review it though, since that’s what you’re here for, so here goes…

There’s a killer on the loose that people call The Bat. He dresses all in black, covers his face and has gloves with metal claws attached that he uses to rip out the throats of his victims. There have also been numerous attacks by rabid bats that people are attributing to The Bat as well.

When a bank president named John Fleming (Harvey Stephens) embezzles a million dollars from his bank, he arranges for he and his friend Dr. Malcolm Wells (Vincent Price) to go on a camping trip together. While they’re in the cabin, John asks Dr. Wells to help him produce a body so they can fake his death and offers to split the money with him. Wells plays along for a bit, but ultimately refuses. That’s when John turns on him and is going to kill him so he can use use him for a scapegoat instead. Wells turns the tables however when a forest fire threatens the cabin, Dr. Wells turns the tables and kills him instead.

John had hidden the money in a house he owned, but unbeknownst to John, the house had been rented to a famous mystery author named Cornelia van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead), and her intrepid assistant Lizzy (Lenita Lane). The house has a reputation for death and despair, and now that they’re in the way of someone who wants to get their hands on that money, The Bat starts creeping around, and people start dying. Cornelia, refusing to be scared off, takes on the mystery herself, and assists the police in finally unmasking The Bat.

Ok, that’s enough description. Now for the review…

The Bat has long been one of my favorite films. Not only because it stars Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead, but because of something you don’t often see in mystery films. There’s actually a mystery! They keep the identity of the bat a secret right up until the end of the film, and you’re never really sure who it is. It’s all excecuted so well by such an amazing cast, that you can’t help but to love this film.

One of the most appealing things about this film isn’t Price’s performance, as one would expect, though he’s as awesome as he is in everything he ever did. Moorehead’s portrayal of the plucky mystery writer and her even pluckier assitant Lizzy were really the show stealers in this one. Most people don’t think about Agnes Moorehead as anything other than Endora from Bewitched, but she was far more than just that one role, and this film is a prime example of that. Her character was supposed to be fun, and she made it fun by playing it in such a way that you’re like, "Damn, this chick is badass!"

Anyway, suffice it to say that if you’ve never seen The Bat, then you really need to treat yourself and check it out. And now, thanks to Film Chest, you really can treat yourself. They release completely restored classic films, and their restoration process just makes them look absolutely incredible. I mean they’re just as clean as you could ever want to see them, which makes them even more of a treat to watch.

There have been various releases of this film over the years, but this is the one you’ll want to get if you want the best looking copy available. It was restored from original 35mm elements in HD (or as HD as DVD can get).

My only complaint about Film Chest is that they’re doing these phenomenal restorations, but they’re not releasing them in full 1080p blu-ray. They put so much work into it, releasing them on DVD just seems like a waste. Still, their releases are awesome to start with, and if you have a good upscaling player, they’ll look just as good upscaled. I just wish they’d start releasing blu-rays as well as DVDs.

Give yourself a treat and get yourself a copy of this one. You won’t spend one second regretting it.

If you’d like to find out more about Film Chest, you can check out their website here, and if you’d like to get a copy of this release for yourself, you can get the DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.