The Bat (1959)

Genres - Horror, Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Haunted House Film  |   Release Date - Aug 9, 1959 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Despite the title and the presence of horror-meister Vincent Price, The Bat is actually a murder mystery rather than a horror film. While it's all done in a by-the-numbers manner, there's more than enough here to entertain whodunit fans. Those looking for deep meaning or surprising characterization will need to look elsewhere; the plot takes center stage in The Bat, and surprises are relegated to its many twists and turns. Fortunately, the screenplay is very well structured, if a trifle confusing, and while it's "scare quotient" may be fairly low, it does keep the viewer interested. Crane Wilbur's direction is fairly static, although he does make effective visual use of the deep dark shadows that are part and parcel of these "old dark house" stories. He also gives his cast free rein, allowing Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead to take the performing ball and run away with it. They're frequently over-the-top and occasionally campy, but so committed to what they're doing that they create a palpable sense of fun. The supporting cast is not as impressive, ranging from adequate to poor. Despite the efforts of the stars, the film lags in many places; the mechanical nature of the script and Wilbur's insufficiently imaginative direction drag it down. Still, The Bat is a diverting way to spend a stormy evening at home.