Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Runtime: 1 hr 31 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Louis Morneau
Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton, Leon, Carlos Jacott, David McConnell
Texas -- not that you'll care.
Review by: SteveRhodes
Added: 3 years ago
In Louis Morneau's BATS, these unnecessarily maligned creatures are noshing on the residents of Gallop, Texas -- not that you'll care. A direct rip-off of THE BIRDS, although without any of its suspense and with no improvements in the special effects over Hitchcock's 1963 classic, this cheap-looking movie never rises above the level of a popcorn flick. Check your brain at the door, order lots of snacks from the concession stand and eat slowly. You won't exactly be entertained, but you'll probably stay awake as you munch away.
So which actors set off your casting red flags? For me they include Lou Diamond Phillips and Burt Reynolds, although both, admittedly, have -- on rare occasions -- done some nice acting. This movie stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Emmett Kimsey, the sheriff of the unlucky Texas town. (The cast, thankfully, doesn't include Reynolds.) Kimsey will do and say more dumb things that you can count.
The problem with the direction and with John Logan's script is that both treat the laughably bad material with dead seriousness. Only as a parody does the show have a chance. Phillips costars with Dina Meyer as bat expert Dr. Sheila Casper. No matter how ludicrous the story gets, Meyer acts like she thinks she's making a public health documentary about some genuine threat.
(A self-styled "Bat Lady" came recently to my son's scout meeting in order to show us real bats, most of whose bite can't even break your skin, and to dispel their undeserved nefarious reputation. Bats, which she spends her entire life rescuing, are a natural and necessary predator for insects and are absolutely no threat to man except when rabid. And when rabid, they are too sick to fly, so about the only way to get hurt is to stick your finger next to them as they lie helpless.)
"Bats don't kill people. Period," Sheila informs the sheriff. "So there must be some other explanation."
Yes, there is, and it's the standard clichй of a secret government project run by an evil scientist, Dr. Alexander McCabe (Bob Gunton), who'll try to thwart the killer bats' destruction.
Sheila's black assistant, Jimmy Sands (Leуn), in a heavily stereotyped role, at least tries -- without any success -- to elicit a few much needed laughs. A man who makes his living studying bats, Jimmy doesn't think much of them. "I like 'em, but at a distance, a real distance like on 'Wild Kingdom,'" he explains to his boss Sheila.
Among Jimmy's other lines in the unoriginal script are: "Houston, we've got a problem," and "I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want anyone moving up the food chain. Period." (People say "Period" a lot in this film. It's the writer's pedantic way of reminding you of the supposed importance of the sentence.)
The movie falls back on every tired horror movie clichй. Take Lover's Lane. When you were a teenager, you might have had some fun and memorable times there. But in horror movies, nothing good ever happens to kids who visit one. And in this movie nothing good ever happens for the audience. Enjoy that popcorn. It'll be the best part of the experience of watching BATS.
BATS runs 1:30. It is incorrectly rated PG-13 for intense sequences of bat attacks and brief language. Having bloody corpses with guts everywhere and showing ferocious attacks, the movie clearly should have been rated R by the MPAA, not PG-13. The film would be acceptable for those teenagers who aren't prone to nightmares, but the movie is inappropriate for anyone less than 13.