Devil Bat


1h 9m 1940
Devil Bat

Brief Synopsis

A mad scientist trains killer bats to respond to a special scent.

Film Details

Also Known As
Killer Bats
Genre
Horror
Release Date
Dec 13, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Distribution Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

Dr. Paul Carruthers, the kindly doctor of Heathville village, is convinced that Henry Morton and Martin Heath, the cosmetics manufacturers for whom he works, have become rich through formulas that he has developed. Driven mad by the desire for revenge, the doctor creates a strain of giant killer bats that attack when they smell a special scent he has formulated. Carruthers' first victim is Heath's son Roy, who volunteers to test the doctor's new aftershave. When Roy's dead body is found bearing strange wounds, newspaper reporter Johnny Layton and photographer One Shot Maguire come to Heathville to investigate. As a giant bat attacks Tommy, Heath's other son, Johnny catches sight of the creature, but no one will believe his story. After Morton's son Don dies of the same mysterious wounds, Johnny finds a bottle of aftershave in his bathroom and, recognizing the scent from the other victims, begins to suspect Carruthers. To eliminate the suspicious Johnny, Carruthers gives him a bottle of aftershave, which One Shot uses. As the bat swoops down out of the night sky, Johnny kills it, but the doctor creates another "devil" bat. Carruthers visits his next victim, Henry Morton, and hints that he is responsible for the murders, but before Morton can inform the police, he falls victim to the bat. Next on Carruthers' list is Heath's daughter Mary, but when the bat fails to gain entrance to her room, Johnny sneaks into the doctor's lab and finds the creature. After spilling the fatal scent on the doctor, Johnny forces him at gunpoint to await the bat's arrival. As the creature appears, Carruthers struggles with Johnny and runs into the night, only to become a victim of his own creation. After killing the doctor, the bat swoops after Mary, but the sheriff shoots the creature before it can harm her.

Photo Collections

The Devil Bat - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from The Devil Bat (1940), starring Bela Lugosi. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Also Known As
Killer Bats
Genre
Horror
Release Date
Dec 13, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Distribution Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

The Devil Bat


As central to the history of horror film as George Washington is to American history, Bela Lugosi's distinctive Hungarian accent and penetrating stare have kept many an expectant viewer glued to the late, late show.

The Devil Bat (1940) is Lugosi at his otherworldly, menacing best in a role made to capitalize on his most famous, iconic performance as cinema's greatest vampire in Tod Browning's Dracula (1931). Lugosi plays Dr. Paul Carruthers of Heathville, a deceptively genteel scientist who secretly harbors a murderous hatred for the wealthy local businessmen Henry Morton (Guy Usher) and Martin Heath (Edmund Mortimer) whom he feels cheated him out of his deserved profits for one of his formulas. Experimenting in his basement laboratory one night, Carruthers comes up with a devious equation of bat-plus-electricity to create the Devil Bat, an enormous, bloodthirsty beast whom Carruthers sics on his enemies. The scientist's nocturnal revenge begins with a fragrant aftershave that he convinces his unsuspecting victims to apply liberally to their neck, thus attracting his killer bat. The village is suddenly in a panic and fast-talking reporter Johnny Layton (Dave O'Brien) moves in to investigate, while making a play for Martin Heath's beautiful daughter, Mary (Suzanne Kaaren).

The Devil Bat was the first horror film made by the Producers Releasing Company, a low-budget indie, rebuilt from the failed Producers Distributing Corporation. And the mark of this lower-echelon Poverty Row studio is all over The Devil Bat. Testament to the film's lowly origins is the appearance of charismatic exploitation film actor Dave O'Brien as the slick reporter Layton. O'Brien's most famous screen performance is undoubtedly as the deranged "hophead" who murders and rapes under the influence of "reefer" in Louis Gasnier's 1936 anti-drug cult film Reefer Madness. The Devil Bat bears other marks of its cut-rate origins in its clearly limited budget for special effects (the resemblance of the Devil Bat to a furry kite propelled through the air is typical), some amateurish performances and - let's face it - a ludicrous storyline, though the original story's author George Bricker took great pains to argue the circumstances could happen. Despite such bargain basement flourishes, The Devil Bat has a sublimely weird ambiance and is unquestionably mesmerizing, due in large part to Lugosi's intensely creepy performance as a man driven to murder by his warped sense of wounded pride.

For many, The Devil Bat is evidence of the beginning of Lugosi's slide into film infamy as a once promising career petered out on cheap horror productions. Born in the Hungarian town of Lugos (from which the actor created his stage name, adding an "i" to suggest aristocratic origins), Lugosi began his career on the stage before appearing in a number of German film productions. After immigrating to the United States, Lugosi made his name in the 1927 Broadway production of Dracula. Three years later Lugosi would reprise that role in Browning's horror classic, where he altered the image of the vampire on film forever. Lugosi's imprint on that role was significant in several regards. Lugosi and Browning's macabre Count was significant for being a naturalistic monster, free of the face paint and ghoulish accoutrements that tended to define movie horror villains. And his spellbinding performance as the aristocratic bloodsucker also added a sexual element that has since become a recurring theme in screen revisitations of Bram Stoker's myth, from Frank Langella to Gary Oldman, to even George Hamilton's parodic Count in Love at First Bite (1979). As evidence of his dark charms, Lugosi reportedly received as much female fan male for his performance in Dracula in the mid-'30s as Clark Gable.

Director: Jean Yarbrough
Producer: Jack Gallagher
Screenplay: John T. Neville based on a story by George Bricker
Cinematography: Arthur Martinelli
Production Design: Paul Palmentola
Music: David Chudnow
Cast: Bela Lugosi (Dr. Paul Carruthers), Suzanne Kaaren (Mary Heath), Dave O'Brien (Johnny Layton), Guy Usher (Henry Morton), Yolande Mallott (Maxine), Donald Kerr ("One-Shot" Maguire).
BW-69m.

by Felicia Feaster

The Devil Bat

The Devil Bat

As central to the history of horror film as George Washington is to American history, Bela Lugosi's distinctive Hungarian accent and penetrating stare have kept many an expectant viewer glued to the late, late show. The Devil Bat (1940) is Lugosi at his otherworldly, menacing best in a role made to capitalize on his most famous, iconic performance as cinema's greatest vampire in Tod Browning's Dracula (1931). Lugosi plays Dr. Paul Carruthers of Heathville, a deceptively genteel scientist who secretly harbors a murderous hatred for the wealthy local businessmen Henry Morton (Guy Usher) and Martin Heath (Edmund Mortimer) whom he feels cheated him out of his deserved profits for one of his formulas. Experimenting in his basement laboratory one night, Carruthers comes up with a devious equation of bat-plus-electricity to create the Devil Bat, an enormous, bloodthirsty beast whom Carruthers sics on his enemies. The scientist's nocturnal revenge begins with a fragrant aftershave that he convinces his unsuspecting victims to apply liberally to their neck, thus attracting his killer bat. The village is suddenly in a panic and fast-talking reporter Johnny Layton (Dave O'Brien) moves in to investigate, while making a play for Martin Heath's beautiful daughter, Mary (Suzanne Kaaren). The Devil Bat was the first horror film made by the Producers Releasing Company, a low-budget indie, rebuilt from the failed Producers Distributing Corporation. And the mark of this lower-echelon Poverty Row studio is all over The Devil Bat. Testament to the film's lowly origins is the appearance of charismatic exploitation film actor Dave O'Brien as the slick reporter Layton. O'Brien's most famous screen performance is undoubtedly as the deranged "hophead" who murders and rapes under the influence of "reefer" in Louis Gasnier's 1936 anti-drug cult film Reefer Madness. The Devil Bat bears other marks of its cut-rate origins in its clearly limited budget for special effects (the resemblance of the Devil Bat to a furry kite propelled through the air is typical), some amateurish performances and - let's face it - a ludicrous storyline, though the original story's author George Bricker took great pains to argue the circumstances could happen. Despite such bargain basement flourishes, The Devil Bat has a sublimely weird ambiance and is unquestionably mesmerizing, due in large part to Lugosi's intensely creepy performance as a man driven to murder by his warped sense of wounded pride. For many, The Devil Bat is evidence of the beginning of Lugosi's slide into film infamy as a once promising career petered out on cheap horror productions. Born in the Hungarian town of Lugos (from which the actor created his stage name, adding an "i" to suggest aristocratic origins), Lugosi began his career on the stage before appearing in a number of German film productions. After immigrating to the United States, Lugosi made his name in the 1927 Broadway production of Dracula. Three years later Lugosi would reprise that role in Browning's horror classic, where he altered the image of the vampire on film forever. Lugosi's imprint on that role was significant in several regards. Lugosi and Browning's macabre Count was significant for being a naturalistic monster, free of the face paint and ghoulish accoutrements that tended to define movie horror villains. And his spellbinding performance as the aristocratic bloodsucker also added a sexual element that has since become a recurring theme in screen revisitations of Bram Stoker's myth, from Frank Langella to Gary Oldman, to even George Hamilton's parodic Count in Love at First Bite (1979). As evidence of his dark charms, Lugosi reportedly received as much female fan male for his performance in Dracula in the mid-'30s as Clark Gable. Director: Jean Yarbrough Producer: Jack Gallagher Screenplay: John T. Neville based on a story by George Bricker Cinematography: Arthur Martinelli Production Design: Paul Palmentola Music: David ChudnowCast: Bela Lugosi (Dr. Paul Carruthers), Suzanne Kaaren (Mary Heath), Dave O'Brien (Johnny Layton), Guy Usher (Henry Morton), Yolande Mallott (Maxine), Donald Kerr ("One-Shot" Maguire). BW-69m. by Felicia Feaster

Quotes

You're a dreamer, Doc. Too much money is bad for dreamers.
- Henry Morton
So you tried to pay me in flattery, telling me that I'm a dreamer. Well...I *do* dream - dreams that you would *never* guess.
- Dr. Paul Carruthers
Say, have you ever had a date with a girl?
- Editor Joe McGinty
A girl? Oh, yes, a girl. I believe I did take a girl out once.
- Reporter Johnny Layton
Say, have you ever had a date with a girl?
- Editor Joe McGinty
A girl? Oh, yes, a girl. I believe I did take a girl out once.
- Reporter Johnny Layton
Now, rub it on the tender part of your neck.
- Dr. Paul Carruthers
Imbecile! Bombastic Ignoramus!
- Dr. Paul Carruthers
That feels great...very soothing.
- Tommy
I don't think you'll ever use anything else.
- Dr. Paul Carruthers

Trivia

This low budget thriller, boosted by Lugosi, was one of the biggest successes for the poverty row Producers Releasing Corporaton (PRC). After the war, they tried to recapture this success by producing a non-sequel sequel _Devil Bat's Daughter, The (1946)_ and a virtual rehash Flying Serpent, The (1946).

Notes

This working title of this picture was Killer Bats, and it was also reviewed as The Devil Bat. According to Screen Achievements Bulletin, Sigmund Neufeld produced this picture, though he was not credited in onscreen credits or reviews. Another version of John Neville's screenplay was filmed by PRC in 1946 as The Flying Serpent, directed by Sherman Scott and starring George Zucco.