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Bats

Bats (1999) Movie Poster
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  •  USA  •    •  91m  •    •  Directed by: Louis Morneau.  •  Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton, Leon, Carlos Jacott, David McConnell, Marcia Dangerfield, Oscar Rowland, Tim Whitaker, Juliana Johnson, James Sie, Ned Bellamy, George Gerdes.  •  Music by: Graeme Revell.
        Bats, the result of a government experiment gone wrong, have suddenly become intelligent, vicious, and omnivorous, and are attacking people near Gallup, Texas. Bat specialist Sheila Casper and her assistant Jimmy are brought in but can they stop the bats before the military comes in and, in their ignorance, makes things worse?

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Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
Image from: Bats (1999)
"Bats" amounts to a load of guano. This mediocre animals-run-amok thriller raises little hair either as a horror chiller or as a creature feature. The executives at Destination Films who green-lighted this half-baked hokum as their debut offering on the Hollywood scene should be hanged by their heels! Director Lou ("Made Men" & "Carnosaur 2") Morneau and an overqualified cast struggle valiantly against predictable writing and ersatz special effects.

"Bats" teams up a rugged, cigar-chomping Texas sheriff (Lou Diamond Phillips of "Young Guns") with a drop-dead gorgeous bat expert (Dina Meyers of "Starship Troopers") as they battle two scientifically beefed-up bats that threaten to destroy life as we know it on the North American continent. Scenarist John Logan has cobbled together a thoroughly synthetic script based on classics ranging from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" to Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" and "Jurassic Park." Logan substitutes genetically enhanced bats for dinosaurs, but (trust me) their lack of size does matter.

You've seen it done before and done better. The action unfolds one dark night in Gallup, Texas (pop. 7,000), when two carnivorous bats kill a couple of teenagers. Clearly, "Bats" imitates the opening scene from "Jaws." Cut to a helicopter from the Centers for Disease Control whirling into a remote desert location to haul Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyers of "Starship Troopers"), a zoologist specializing in bats, and her wise-cracking assistant, Jimmy Sands (Leon), to Gallup for an autopsy. The pick-up scene comes from "Jurassic Park" while the autopsy is straight out of "Silence of the Lambs." Although "Bats" adheres to a sure-fire horror film formula, this movie delivers few thrills and chills.

CDC chief Dr. Hodge (Carlos Jacott) introduces them to the amoral scientist, Dr. McCabe (Bob Gunton of "Patch Adams"), who created this mutant strain of killer bats. According to McCabe, he has spent vast sums of government funds over the last decade breeding these biologically altered bats. Experimenting on Flying Foxes, an Indonesian bat with a six-foot wingspan, he has made them smarter and more aggressive. Further, he has turned them into the equivalent of winged piranha. They fly in swarms and feast on flesh. When Jimmy asks why, McCabe boasts: "That's what scientists do. Improve things." Gee, sounds a lot like the unscrupulous scientists from "Jurassic Park."

Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Phillips) shepherds Casper & the CDC people on their search for the bats. The dialogue about these ferocious flying mammals is unintentionally hilarious. "Are we talking about bats!?" Nevertheless, the filmmakers go to silly extremes to persuade us that these crafty critters pose a peril. At one point, they trap Kimsey and Casper in his police pick-up and try to burrow through the AC to feed on them. Eventually, the bats decimate the townspeople of Gallup, and the U.S. Army rolls in for the big showdown. Our heroes track the bats down to an abandoned mine, and the military unveils a giant refrigeration bomb (looking something like a chrome-plated colander) to freeze the fiends. Freezing is another of those time-honored techniques for destroying certain monsters.

But these villainous varmints come out swinging. They wipe out the troops before they can set off the bomb. The Army retreats and calls in the U.S.A.F. to finish the job. Casper warns them that blowing up the bats will create bigger headaches. Reluctantly, the military permits Kimsey and Casper to reenter the cave and detonate the bomb. In a suspenseful finale, reminiscent of Michael Bay's "The Rock," Casper and Kimsey plunge into the cave, wade through a river of guano, and work against the clock to freeze their foe before the Air Force blasts the mountain to smithereens.

Shoddy special effects defang the fright. When the bats fly, they appear as computer generated graphics, but you can barely distinguish one bat from another, so they look like confetti. When the attack their victims, they show up as obvious hand puppets. Worse, the seams between the computer graphics and the puppets are blatantly obvious. As a result, the bats attain little screen menace. They resemble "Ghoulies" with wings. Consequently, "Bats" drums up very little terror because the titular antagonists never chill your goose bumps.

The only thing compelling about "Bats" is director Louis Morneau's muscular direction. He pours on non-stop action, rarely letting anything interfere with the forward momentum of the plot, but his roller coaster tactics cannot disguise the substandard special effects or distract us from the corny dialogue.

As ecological catastrophe chillers go, "Bats" is a trick on movie audiences rather than a treat for them.


Review by zardoz-13 from the Internet Movie Database.