31 Days of Hallowe’en 2022, Day 28: The Vampire Bat [1933]

I shouldn’t let a year slip by without including at least one classic (read: B&W or silent) horror. But for the life of me I need to watch it during the day – though not for the reason you might think. It’s because the copy that exists (at least on YouTube but presumably it’s among the best) has the sound mixed in such a way that the dialogue is whisper-quiet but the screams are astronomically loud. So, at 2am, I sort of had to watch this like it was a silent film. My fault for showing my friends the brilliant Little Monsters at midnight my time and not having yet seen a fresh film for that night.

The Vampire Bat, directed by Frank R. Strayer, concerns a small European village (populated by Americans with those vintage semi-English Frasier accents) which suffers an attack. The locals become convinced the perpetrator is a vampire since they’ve apparently already had a brush with this before (??), and suspect, naturally, the town’s loner, who also happens to be developmentally challenged, solely because he is a bit weird and thinks that bats are cute. Fuck you, townspeople. That’s all of us! Even post-covid!

It’s definitely got that 1930s pacing and the pre-Code spooks may have been shocking back then but unfortunately do pale in comparison to the stuff we get nowadays. But the acting is decent, and Fay Wray is distractingly beautiful as Ruth, but it seems like she doesn’t have much to do while the men do the Important Stuff. The scene-stealer for me was Maude Eburne, who plays Ruth’s hypochondriac aunt Gussie. She’s an eccentric joy to watch. Sympathetic, too, is Dwight Frye as Hermann, the bat-loving outcast.

Definitely one worth checking out if you want more vampire films, but expect a little less Hammer and a little more Scoob.

Score: πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

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