Bats (1999)

In honor of today’s Blood Moon, the 8th day of 31 Days of Horror is dedicated to the movie Bats, a film of which the original title was, well, duh, Blood Moon. It’s also pretty much the perfect follow-up to Kingdom of the Spidersbecause it’s almost the exact same movie, only made a few decades later and with a stronger female lead. Well that and Lou Diamond Phillips is no Bill Shatner (sorry, Lou).

Lou Diamond Phillips has no time for "Bats"

Lou Diamond Phillips has no time for “Bats”

Dr. Sheila Casper is the best bat expert around. She’s so good in fact the CDC has located her in a remote cave somewhere in Arizona, nearly scaring the crap out of her assistant Jimmy (Leon, or better known as the guy that played Jesus in Madonna’s Like a Prayer video) by landing their helicopter by his work station. It must be pretty serious if the CDC is willing to search out Sheila in such a remote location, but all they really tell her is they have a bat-mergency and they need her help in Gallup, Texas immediately!

For whatever reason, Sheila and Jimmy go with the CDC guy, where Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips) introduced them to some bloody, mangled corpses; seems some freak bats ripped out their throats! But no bat Sheila has ever heard of would do such a thing, they eat things like fruits and nuts, why would they suddenly become

Sheila's all like "why would you mess with mother nature, bro?"

Sheila’s all like “why would you mess with mother nature, bro?”

interested in humans for food? Something tells me the creepy, government-funded Dr. McCabe (Bob Gunton) has some idea as to what’s going on, but dude is tight-lipped until the terror continues to spread. Finally, McCabe is strong-armed into revealing his little secret: seems he’s been doing some experimenting with a pair of flying foxes, futzing around with nature and making them super-intelligent omnivores!

Incredulous, disgusted, and armed-to-the-teeth, Sheila, Jimmy, Kimsey and some other poor suckers set out to fight the evil bastards. Unfortunately, the fight isn’t going to be that easy. Not only has Dr. McCabe got some way of controlling the bats, the military has been called in to bomb the shit out of every cave within a 50-mile radius of Gallup. Jimmy and Sheila know what a disaster that would be; and fuck, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that bats can just fucking fly away, but whatever. Anyway now it’s a race against the moonlight and the bombers to freeze out the bats with their own cockamamie plot.

Waist-deep in Guano!

Waist-deep in Guano!

For as dumb of a movie as it is, Bats is actually thoroughly enjoyable, though for completely different reasons than Kingdom of the Spiders. While a pretty big part of Kingdom was all about the attractive, available Rack Hansen and what woman he’d woo next, there is not a single romantic thread throughout Bats. Sure there is a bit of sexual tension between Sheila and both Jimmy and Kimsey, but no one bones; they’re too busy kicking bat ass! For the most part, the characters are kind of likable, except for McCabe, who you’re obviously supposed to hate.

Another big difference between these two flicks is that no one actually seems to mind that a woman is knowledgeable about the situation at hand; everyone actually listens to what she has to say. That is, of course, except the military; they need a different sort of convincing! And that is perhaps the

McCabe is a nasty old dude with secrets and stuff.

McCabe is a nasty old dude with secrets and stuff.

biggest difference between Bats and Kingdom of the Spiders; the plot here is just a tad more sophisticated, throwing the big bad government into the mix for a whole new layer of who’s-to-blame. In the end it isn’t science vs. nature, or science vs. god, it’s actually science vs. science; the type of science where we learn and appreciate what mother nature has to offer (Sheila) and the type we manipulate to our own advantage without entirely understanding the consequences (McCabe).

Though all of that sounds sort of heavy, it isn’t presented that way. Bats is fully aware that it is meant to entertain you, and that it does. Certainly it’s not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen,

That bat is scary looking, right?

That bat is scary looking, right?

and there were definitely moments when I looked over at Q, eye in half-roll mode, wondering if we were going to keep the disc after it was over. This happened a lot in the first 20 minutes, when everyone said the word “bats” over and over and over again. If one were to have a drink every time someone says “bats,” you’d be on the floor well before the halfway mark. It is also fully aware that the bats special effects are totally awesome! Those fuckers look like miniature flying gargoyles; they’re nasty and even kind of scary, while being funny and goofy at the same time. If you come across a copy, give it a try; it’s at least worth an hour and a half of your time. Also, Lou Diamond Phillips!


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