The Vampire Bat, Blu-ray (1933)

An interesting pre-Code 1933 resurrection starring Melvyn Douglas and Fay Wray.

The Vampire Bat, Blu-ray (1933)

Cast: Melvyn Douglas, Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill
Director: Frank R. Strayer
Studio: UCLA/The Film Detective FD0767 (4/25/17)
Video: 1:33 B&W & color added for flames
Audio: English mono
Extras: Featurette on Gregory Hesselberg, son of Melvyn Douglas, Audio commentary by film historian Sam Sherman
Length: 63 min.
Rating: ****

First all, one never even sees a vampire bat in this early film, except for a clearly dead little one in the vest of a troubled man-child they mistakenly peg as the vampire. This macabre feature of vampire attacks in a small German village (but in English) stars the heart-throb of the time, Melvyn Douglas, and King Kong’s Fay Wray. (She was the original “horror chick.”) A featurette attempts to make a documentary of one of the sons of Melvyn Douglas. I did not listen to the film commentary, which I’m sure was fairly interesting.

This is a classic horror film with not a great deal of horror in it. The most interesting thing to me was that during the periods when no one spoke, the audio dropped out completely. Guess that’s what they did in some of the earlier sound films. Otherwise this tale from Hugo-nominated writer Edward T. Lowe will have you wanting more films from this period. The cinematography is pretty ambitious, giving a nice moody appearance to everything.

You’ll need to leave it yourself whether you want to see this one or not. Be advised that it is quite a bit better than most horror films of this period, and that is partly why it was restored and remastered.

—John Sunier

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