Bats all, folks!
It's Creature Feature Saturday once again. I was debating whether or not to watch George Romero's “Monkey Shines” for today, but I just couldn't commit to it's long running time (around 113 minutes), especially when the New York Rangers are playing right now. If I accidentally type “Shoot the damn puck!” that's why. Maybe I'll try it next week. It's not like I'm rushing to watch the latest CGI SyFy Channel animalfest. I wasn't sure what else to watch, but I saw that Xena, Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless, starred in an animal horror movie. She's always enjoyable, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
Vampire Bats is a 2005 horror/animal attack movie starring Lucy Lawless (Xena, Warrior Princess, Eurotrip) as college professor/scientist Maddy Rierdon. Maddy and her husband Dan are both professors at Tate University in Louisiana. Her students Jason, Eden, and Aaron go to an underground rave out in the bayou. They drink punch that is spiked with Ecstasy and Jason wanders off. Lost in the woods, he is attacked and killed by vampire bats. Sherriff Herbst questions Eden and Aaron in Jason's death, but Maddy is able to prove their innocence. She inspects Jason's body and points out vampire bat bite marks. The bites are strange and don't exactly match up to those of a typical vampire bat. More bat attacks occur, including at another rave and at a fancy yacht party attended by Maddy. After some investigation, it is revealed that a local chemical company called Carbide Waste Resources has been dumping chemicals in the local water, mutating the vampire bats. Mayor Poelker (Timothy Bottoms, The Paper Chase, The Girl Next Door) is working with Carbide and is trying to keep Maddy and her students from exposing them. Will Maddy be able to stop the bats and save the town?
Xena is deadly with a broom
This movie is better than your average animal-based horror movie, but not by much. The bats are thankfully not over-CGI'd or look like cheap Halloween decorations on strings. It's somewhere in the middle, but believable enough to not hinder the movie. The plot is pretty standard with an evil corporation poisoning the environment, mutating animals and turning them into murder machines. Unfortunately, not a lot of time or effort is given to said evil corporation. That aspect of the story only comes within the last 30 minutes or so. Most of the time is spent with a slow build for a movie that doesn't need one. It's just mutant bats, let them go nuts and eat some flesh. There's too much “in-between” time in the movie. That's not to say there's no action or blood, just not enough for my taste, and when they have close-up shots of the bats attacking, it looks incredibly fake.
Lucy Lawless is very good in her role and pretty to boot. Timothy Bottoms is a nice mixture of George W. Bush and Rick Santorum, so I feel OK when I want to smash his face in. The various college kids are fine and I never felt like they didn't belong in college, which is a problem for some horror movies. There are some plot holes in Vampire Bats that stuck out to me, particularly the local police department so easily giving information to Maddy after Jason's death. Jeez, has this place ever heard of protocol or standard procedures? They even let her inspect his body. A lawyer would have an aneurism over this type of negligence.
"This isn't an old bat...it's a new one! RUN!!!!"
Vampire Bats has it's moments, but overall, it's nothing special. Lucy Lawless puts in a good performance along with the rest of the cast, but it's not enough to overcome a plain story. The action is passable, but I would have preferred more. For creature features, you could do plenty worse than this movie, but you could also do better.