The Vampire Bat (1933) – By Charles Rector

 Majestic Pictures is one of the single most obscure movie studios from the 1930’s. Just how obscure? Let’s consider the case of its best well known flick, the 1933 effort "The Vampire Bat."

The Vampire Bat is set in the village of Klineschloss where villagers are found dead, drained of their blood with two small holes in their necks. Naturally, everyone suspects that a vampire is at work. It is up to Dr. Otto von Niemann (Lionel Atwill), his lovely lab assistant Ruth Bertin (Fay Wray) and policeman Karl Brettschneider (Melvyn Douglas) to solve the case. However, hysteria and panic is spreading and the superstitious villagers are wielding torches. The case needs to be solved soon to avert a calamity.

Dwight Frye has a significant role in this flick as the local weirdo, Herman Gleib, who picks this strange time to proclaim his love of bats. He strokes bats in public and give to his friends as weird gifts. Naturally, he becomes the top suspect for the vampire-like murders. Frye’s red herring role is very well acted.

In counterpoint to Frye is the horrible performance of Lionel Atwill as the local scientist. It is easily Atwill’s worst performance that this writer has ever seen. You clearly get the idea that Atwill would much rather be anywhere else but in this movie.

Another actor who seemed to wish that he had nothing to do with this movie is Melvyn Douglas who would later go on to have quite a career as an actor. Douglas plays the role of a stupid police officer named Karl Brettschneider who spends his time sitting around talking about he wants to solve the case. However, he does not do anything to even try to solve the case!

The Vampire Bat is a pretty lame flick. This movie features poor production values and a forced script. Worst of all, it has poor performances from several actors who have done better in other, better movies. This flicks only redeeming feature is that it has what may very well be Dwight Frye’s best ever performance. If this flick is typical of Majestic Picture’s output, no wonder its so obscure.