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Some things just make you batty

This week's movie review:

BATS! -- Based on true events (physical characteristics of actual people were altered to protect identities), this B-level horror movie, offering predictable stunts, startles, bumps, and starlet screams, will assuredly attain cult classic status. A handsome couple moves their family into a new home, only to discover that something is terribly wrong; and find themselves swept-up in a fury of winged creatures of the night.

In the prologue, as the couple tours the home with the real estate agent, the terribly attractive woman inquires about a strange aroma. When the agent claims to notice nothing unusual, she attributes the odor to him.

The director foreshadows a foreboding future when, shortly after the move, the genius nine year old enters the playroom. He wildly retreats, stammering about something black and furry on the floor. The enticingly gorgeous stars, playing the brilliant boy's parents, scold him for not turning on the light; certainly, only a harmless stuffed animal blocked his path.

The brave father stomps into the room to demonstrate the ridiculousness of the delusional child's claim, only to run out screeching like a scalded school girl. Something lurks beyond the doorway and sinisterly swoops in the background.

A valiant effort by the beautiful and faultless hero and heroine to eradicate the pests from the brick manor ensues, at the end of which the male protagonist pronounces himself triumphant. (The lead female looks a bit less hopeful.)

For a brief period, during which the vermin secretly regroup and reorganize, the unsuspecting characters enjoy the all too common horror movie lull, when they believe the monster defeated and let down their guard.

Then, eerie music, that they, for some odd reason, can't hear, begins to play, until it hits a crescendo and BOOM, the bats return, more menacing than before. Bats flock into the house where they perform fly-bys in the bedrooms, back stroke in the toilets, collaborate in the cabbage pot, and hangout behind the blinds.

Wearing protective gear and uttering clichÈ-ish lines, like "we have nets and we're not afraid to use them," the family carefully creeps through the halls and secures the windows, chimneys and doors.

The husband and wife vow to the children that they will keep a vigilant watch while snuggling on the sofa; thus, the romantic interlude characteristic of this genre. As expected, the fearless husband unnecessarily exits the room, leaving his bride to keep lookout alone. Something dark and dreadful scurrying across the carpet breaks the disconcertingly peaceful moment.

Not sure what she saw, the glamorous, but bold, actress does the fright-feature-skulk. Instead of wisely running in the opposite direction, she walks directly to the place where she detects the most danger. Whoosh, a winged rodent dives at her. She leaps onto the sofa for safety, which proves about as smart as hiding behind a paper thin set-door from a masked man with a bloody knife.

Scratching noises in the chimney become audible. Suddenly, invincible bats swarm from the fireplace. Thinking quickly, the muscular lead male grabs the fireplace cover, ramming it into place. In true fear flick convention, he executes a flimsy barricade with two potted plants.

Like a last remaining survivor of any scary film, the rattled female suffers deep psychological unrest, flinching periodically at sounds reminiscent of bats battering into the home.

She awakes in the night in a sleep-induced fog and sees, in the tricky shadows on the ceiling, what looks like a lone bat making a slow circular flight over the bed. A dream-state scream alludes to the sequel, Bats II: The Guano Chronicles.



Web posted on Thursday, October 28, 2004


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