B-Movie Reviews - Vampire Bats
Written by Karl Ljungberg Monday, 21 June 2010 03:55
Title: Vampire Bats
Genre: Horror (Creature Feature)
Director: Eric Bross
Cast: Lucy Lawless, Dylan Neal, Liam Waite, Timothy Bottoms
Runtime: 85 minutes
A weekend with no access to the Internet is a harsh endeavor to say the least. With no possibility of spending your last hour awake on a forum or watching a few silly clips on YouTube or just looking at funny pictures of cats complete with a funny caption, you're reduced to looking through your library of movies in hopes of finding something you haven't seen before, a kind of movie I have a surprising amount of, and that might even entertain you somewhat.
Unfortunately that was not the case this night. I'm writing this after the fact, like I said I was out of touch with the Internet for four-five days so I couldn't get my review out pronto so expect some lapse in judgement since I actually had a lot of time to think about this piece of crap.
Somewhere in Louisiana something has gone horribly wrong. When a young student is found brutally murdered in a swamp outside of the town Mercier, local teacher and biologist Maddy Rierdon takes it upon herself to clear her students' names and find the real culprit behind the murder. But when she examines the body she quickly realizes that no human was behind this murder. The only problem is she can't figure out what sort of animal did it either. And when more bodies are discovered closer to town it's very clear that something is rapidly approaching Mercier in the night on silent wings.
Movies featuring bats don't have an easy times. As bad an image these little creatures have been given over time, they're actually not all that dangerous to humans. They carry disease, yes, but no human has ever directly died from a bat-attack. One bat in particular has been given an incredibly bad name over the year and that's desmodus rotundus, the common vampire bat. Intimately tied together with the legend of vampires, the vampire bat is often seen as a carnivorous, human-feasting beast of the night when in truth, they're small and quite harmless. They don't much like to feast on humans and would any day of the week snack on slumbering bovine before attacking a human. In fact, they're quite the batiarians, known to adopt orphaned bats if something were to happen to the biological parents.
There, I've done my part to better the understanding of the common vampire bat. Go read on Wikipedia if you're interested in knowing more or pick up a book, they do convey information.
But obviously a movie like "Vampire Bats", or any movie featuring bats, do their best to ignore these facts and prey on our fear of vampires in general. And I mean the proper kind of vampires, not the sparkling sissies so popular as of late. Obviously the movie needs to find some sort of excuse for why the bats are acting like complete tossers and one quick glance at most political debates gave them just the perfect excuse they needed: pollution.
Don't get me wrong, pollution is a horrible thing and you, me and everyone should do their best to safeguard this planet we're on. But there are limits to how far you can stretch this excuse for a plot and "Vampire Bats" crosses this and then keeps going. I'll buy that adding dangerous chemicals to the waters can have extreme consequences. But this movie treats it like the mutations were instant and spontaneous. Most of these bats just woke up one day with an extra set of fangs and the craving for human flesh.
One of my issues with using bats as villains is that they're not all that scary. Okay, they look like filthy, little rodents but the truth is they're not all the much of a threat as I've adamantly been pointing out for five paragraphs now. The only way this works is if all the victims are complete idiots because not one of them does anything but stand in a spot, screaming and waving their arms. This is especially irritating since over half the attacks take place near water. Here's an idea, if flying rodents are attacking you in swarm near water, DIVE IN. It's honestly not that hard to figure out bats are pretty damn awful swimmers and I doubt they'll be able to do much harm in the few seconds it takes to pop your head up for a lungful of air.
If it seems that I'm having problems with this whole bat thing it's because I am. I expected the movie to feature giant bats or bat-men or something, not just the common vampire bat with some small mutation that allows them to drain blood faster, that's an awful antagonist for a movie, swarm or no swarm.
But fine, let's just buy this whole bat-attack thing and that Mercier is populated primarily by complete idiots and be done with, suspension of disbelief. What else can we use to sink this abomination of a movie?
Well, the actors are a fat, glowing target with Lucy Lawless in the lead. Dear lord, let's be honest here, no-one watched "Xena: The Warrior Princess" because Lucy Lawless was a good actress. She's terrible in this movie but that was a given. What I wasn't expecting was how utterly bland, boring and generic the rest of the cast was. There is not a single, good performance in this movie and they're not even the kind of bad that becomes hilarious, it's just bad. And that's saying a lot coming from the guy who sat through all three "Carnosaur" movies.
Neither the students, the teachers, the mayor or anyone else in the movie are anything but B-horror fodder to pad out the movie. Most characters are only barely connected to the plot and most twists comes about in a most ludicrous of ways. Also, the villain, besides the aforementioned vampire bats, is painted in such an incredibly bad light that he practically screams "Look, I'm an asshole and this is all my fault". Except being incredibly over the top antagonistic he's also extremely poorly acted and not even remotely a sympathetic character. This makes his inevitable betrayal not only extremely predictable but also leaves it without punch since we're all pretty much happy to see him gone.
A horror movie needs two things primarily: a frightening antagonist and believable characters. So far this movie has neither and the suckage doesn't stop there.
It's clear that the movie had a subpar budget from the look of the effects. Whether it's puppetry or CGI, it just looks incredibly fake. The puppets are lifeless and cheap, the CGI stands out to such a horrible degree that I had to pretend the movie was from the nineties to make it okay. It's obviously extremely difficult to simulate flying bats with puppets but they might as well have replaced the puppets with CGI and the movie wouldn't have fared much better. And let's not mention the sets that also fall under the category of "cheap".
Everything in this movie is cheap. The actors are straight off the cheap list, the effects and sets are cheap, the music is cheap, even the few startling moments are cheap, it's all incredibly cheap. It follows the formula of creature feature to the letter, damaging any sort of suspense or pacing the movie otherwise would've featured, it's incredibly predictable and it doesn't feature the bats nearly enough, probably due to the budget being shit, no doubt. The science is all over the place, making even me cry in shame. Everything from how the bats are portrayed to how the mutation occurred or how rabies work is just entirely wrong. Any decent creature feature would just say "Fuck it!" but this movie aspires to be good to the degree that it flaws just become glaring.
I give it a D because I'm feeling nice but don't get me wrong, this honestly is one of the most boring movies I have seen in a good while.