Horror Fest 2016: The Vampire Bat (1933)
Cast: Lionel Atwill as Dr. Otto Von Neimann
Fay Wray as Ruth Bertin
Melvyn Douglas as Karl Brettschneider
Dwight Frye as Herman Gleib
Lionel Belmore as Burgermeister Gustave Schoen
Written by Edward T. Lowe (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
Directed by Frank R. Strayer (The Monster Walks)
Plot: There is a growing list of victims in a small village that is stirring up the citizens into a panic. The Burgermeister and town council all believe that a vampire is loose as the victims have all died due to blood loss. However, local authority Karl Brettschneider is looking for a more logical answer. When the townspeople target the creepy Herman, who has a love for bats, the pitchforks are sharpened to hunt him down. But what about Dr. Otto Von Neimann and what part does he play in these murders?
Personal Thoughts: A low-budget effort from Majestic Pictures that decided to capitalize on the successful pairing of Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray. Despite a much smaller budget than the larger studios, it actually looks like a Universal film due to the set pieces. Majestic leased use of the village sets from Universal and interior sets from The Old Dark House (1932). With Atwill and Wray being well-known to audiences, there is also the presence of Dwight Frye, very well-known due to his roles in Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931). The film moves along briskly at 63 minutes and, despite the typical plot swerve, it is a surprisingly enjoyable effort. On a more personal note, I have fond memories of watching this on the PBS series Matinee at the Bijou, a wonderful television series that recreated the movie going experience with short subjects, cartoons and chapter serials.
- Completed after Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum but was rushed into release a month before the latter.
- The film has fallen into public domain. Despite countless and lesser quality prints flooding the market, The Vampire Bat was restored in the early 2000s and again just recently by The Film Detective and the UCLA Film Archive.
- First broadcast on television in 1948 in New York.