In the small village of Kleinshloss, the locals are scared with a serial killer that is draining the blood of his victims, and the Burgomaster Gustave Schoen is convinced that a vampire is responsible for the deaths. The skeptical police inspector Karl Brettschneider is reluctant to accept the existence of vampires, but the local doctor Otto Von Newman shows literature about cases of vampirism inclusive in Amazon. When the apple street vendor Martha Mueller is murdered, the prime suspect becomes the slow Herman Gleib, a man with a mind of child that loves bats. The group of vigilantes chases Herman, while Dr. Von Newman's housemaid Georgiana is attacked by the killer.
Directed by: Frank R. Strayer
. Starring: Lionel Atwill
, Fay Wray
, Melvyn Douglas
, Maude Eburne
, George E. Stone
, Dwight Frye
, Robert Frazer
, Rita Carlyle
, Lionel Belmore
, William V. Mong
, Stella Adams
, Harrison Greene
, Fern Emmett
The Vampire Bat is set in the small German village of Klineschloss where Gustave Schoen (Lionel Belmore) the Burgermeister is holding a meeting with Inspector Karl Brettschneider (Melvyn Douglas) from the local constabulary about all the recent murders, six victims have been discovered in as many weeks all drained of blood & bearing the same two puncture wounds on their necks. Brettschneider doesn't have a single clue but the superstitious elders of the village believe the deaths to be the work of a Vampire. Brettschneider isn't convinced but the scared villagers keep telling tales of seeing a large Bat, meanwhile the latest victim Martha Mueller (Rita Carlyle) has been found. Brettschneider comes under increasing pressure to solve the murders but can he really believe that a giant Vampire Bat is responsible & if it is how's he going to stop it?
Directed by Frank R. Strayer The Vampire Bat was a cheapie from Majestic Pictures to cash in on the success of it's two stars Atwill & Wray & their success in the previous years Doctor X (1932) & is more of a murder mystery rather than a horror as the exploitative & enticing title may have lead you to believe & quite frankly it's rather dull. The script by Edward T. Lowe Jr. takes itself rather seriously & sets up the basic story that something is killing local villagers & that something could possibly be a Vampire, then for most of it's duration the film focuses on Brettschneider & his incompetent investigations which are, not to put too fine a point on it, boring. The Vampire Bat also has a bit of an identity crisis as it doesn't quite know what it wants to be, the title would suggest a horror film while the majority of it could easily be described as a thriller with the final few minutes descending into silly sci-fi. There is no Vampire Bat, the attempts to fool you are pathetic, all the character's are broad stereotypes & you can tell the villain of the piece straight away & as a whole there is nothing particularly exciting or entertaining about The Vampire Bat. I know it's old but that's not an excuse as cinema has moved on a lot since 1933 & a bland, flat, dull, boring & misleading film such as The Vampire Bat just doesn't cut it these days, just look at the original King Kong (1933) released the same year & how brilliantly that still holds up today. I didn't like it & I doubt many modern film-goers would either, it's as simple & straight forward as that.
Director Strayer doesn't do anything special but this is a case in point where I can cut the film some slack because of it's age, as a whole it's pretty much point, shoot & hope for the best stuff. There isn't much in the way of atmosphere or scares although some of the sets which were already existing ones taken from The Old Dark House (1932) & Universal's European set on their back-lot are nice & add a certain ambiance to things.
Technically The Vampire Bat can't compare to anything even remotely modern, for the age of it it's alright I suppose but again I draw your attention back to the original King Kong. Speaking of King Kong it's star Fay Wray has a role in this as does horror icon Lionel Atwill, I'll be kind & say the acting is OK.
The Vampire Bat will I imagine fool a lot of people into thinking that it's a horror film about Vampire Bats when in fact it isn't, personally I thought the whole thing was a bit of a bore. It's short & it tells it's story reasonably enough but I must admit I'm not a fan.
Review by Paul Andrews (firstname.lastname@example.org) from UK from the Internet Movie Database.