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My Darling Kitschy Campers, Camp Kitsch is back in session! Woo-Hoo! Sadly, we have only one week remaining of our kitsch film cycle, do not fret! I planned a great new series. Just a reminder, the current series has a few rules: it must be new to me, with a great poster or lobby card, easy online access, and viewed at midnight.

And this film is an utter gem, The Bat is better than Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla! Yes, I said it! Yes, I mean it! The Bat stars Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead, and the trailer is irresistible, you can catch it on youtube.

 

This poster offers tantalizing clues, first the tag-line “when it flies…someone dies!” If that weren’t enough, The Bat warns us:

WARNING! Keep the secret! Anyone who reveals who I am, will have to answer to The Bat

The Bat, looking more like a cat

As I do not wish to incur The Bat’s wrath, this post is spoiler free!

The Plot: Famed mystery writer, Cornelia Van Gorder (Moorehead) rents a manor house to complete her next novel. Meanwhile, the bank manager (and home owner) died in a mysterious “hunting accident” and $1M is missing from the bank, the town’s bats are rabid, and a serial killer “The Bat” is loose!

The suspects include:

  • Dr. Welles (Vincent Price) a local zoologist specializing in bat behavior
  • Werner a chauffeur with a mysterious past
  • Andy Anderson the town Sheriff
  • Mark Fleming the bank manager’s nephew
  • Victor Bailey a bank employee

A burglar with a black mask and steel cat claws targets the manor house. While Cornelia entertains her guests Jane and Judy (Darla Hood), the evening turns sinister, as murders add up!

Based on two novels by Mary Rinehart Roberts (The Circular Staircase and The Bat), The Bat enjoyed an extraordinarily long Broadway run, with two revivals, and six screen adaptations between 1915 and 1960. This film is a particular treat for Agnes Moorehead fans, as Moorehead takes center stage as an incredibly plucky leading lady. The Bat brilliantly showcases Moorehead’s dry humor, with witty one-liners.  Decked out in sharp clothing and glamorous nightgowns, as Cornelia Van Gorder, she “looked very much like herself in private life. Nissen also describes this character, closest to Moorehead’s own character.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Price so casual

Joining Moorehead, is character-actor, and wife of director Wilbur Crane, Lenita Lane as Lizzie Allen. Lane is the perfect sidekick with both homespun and no-nonsense quips, she is a great comic asset! The film also stars Darla Hood (The Little Rascals) in her only adult role. Darla has the same adorable face she had as a child actor. Last but certainly not least, is my personal favorite, Vincent Price! His trademark (ghoulish) delivery is an ideal addition.

Composer Alvino Rey adds a nice kitschy theme. You can hear it here!

Something creepier than Alfalfa is chasing you, run, Darla, run!

This movie sparkles with wit, has a ton of thrills, and is an all-around good time!

The Bat is available online via Youtube.

Resource

Nissen, Axel. The Films of Agnes Moorehead. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2013. Print.
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