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Here is the plot of "Bats": A scientist mad from his own overweening sense of power creates superintelligent, cooperative, carnivorous, predatory bats in his military lab. These bats are unleashed accidentally on an unsuspecting population, resulting in the predictable carnage. Only a local sheriff, a renowned and extremely hot bat scientist, and the bat scientist's jive-talking black assistant can stop them.

As you may have guessed by now, "Bats" belongs to the ever-growing species of movies that require the viewer to shut off his or her brain completely in order to enjoy them. Besides the ludicrous plot outlined above, this movie is also chock-full of cliches, from the abovementioned mad scientist to the horror-movie ritual killing of the amorous high school couple. In addition to all this, the script has some really idiotic lines in it, such as when the guy who looks a lot like Bill Gates identifies himself as from "the CDC" and the renowned hot scientist asks, "The Centers for Disease Control?" No, the other CDC, idiot. And, of course, if you watch this movie with your brain turned on, certain issues of scientific accuracy will crop up in it, such as how exactly using even speculative technology one man could create the deadly superbats. Ritual witchcraft sounds realistic compared to this movie's vague, implausible explanation.

However, this movie contains a pleasant surprise: if you do manage to turn off your brain as you view "Bats," you will find a lot to like. For one thing, it's short, so you won't have to turn off your brain for too long. More substantively, the cinematography in this film is absolutely terrific, putting many bigger-budget horror films to shame. Sure, it's unrealistic, but it looks so nice! The same encomium extends to the actors, especially Dina Mayer as the attractive wildlife zoologist. She looks like a blond Angelina Jolie, which means it's quite fun to watch her onscreen. She should be in some more movies. Although most of the attempts by the black character (played by someone referred to, simply, as "Leon") to speak jive are embarrassing, he's easily the second-most intelligent character in the movie, which qualifies as innovation in horror films. Some of the repartee between these two is actually amusing. And since all of these actors are barely known, except Lou Diamond Phillips as the sheriff, the producers were able to put a whole lot of money into high-quality effects such as cool explosions, violent electrocutions, and military aircraft. Good stuff.

The most redeeming feature of this movie, though, is the total sincerity which all the actors and the director bring to it. Never for a moment when watching this movie do you doubt that everyone involved totally believes in the idea of making a movie about gigantic superstrong murderous bats and their possible consequences if unleashed on the Texas countryside. Whatever this sincerity may say about the actors and director, it has a wonderful effect on the movie. "Bats" has none of the ironic distance that takes the bite out of movies like "Scream." For better or worse, everyone in this movie means it. So when this movie builds up a decent head of steam and starts piling on the thrilling catastrophes and derring-do, it really does generate a lot of excitement and tension. If you've turned your brain off already.

No, this is not a good movie. But it is extremely entertaining, which is a good substitute in a pinch. At the very least, they don't kill off the black character (quite a rarity in horror films), so it can't be that bad. Consider it a good chaser to erase the nasty mental aftertaste of midterms. It may only be a re-vamping (groan) of other films, but there's enough in here to drive you to "Bats."


That last line is a bit much. Also I sent this to the Diamondback with a misspelling that I didn't catch, which is only remarkable because it was the second-to-last time I did that in three years of writing for that paper.


All this tasty writing ©2002-11 by Andrew Lindemann Malone. All rights reserved.