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The West Indies island of Portuga exists mainly for sponge diving. But the best area of collection is frequented by a very large manta ray. Nina loses her lover to the creature and is comforted by a newly arrived minister, who seems very interested in an old poster offering a reward for a convict recently escaped from nearby Devil's Island. More deaths attributed to the sea bat follow before Nina resolves her feelings for her comforter. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
"The Sea Bat" is a thoroughly silly film--the sort of steamy adventure film you could have easily found back in the so-called 'Pre-Code' days. What I mean is that up until mid-1934, Hollywood did a lousy job of policing what was in movies and many of the films from about 1930-34 are amazingly steamy when you see them today. Sex, adultery, abortion, homosexual and the like were relatively common in movies and unlike the post-code era, they often went unpunished! This film implies a lot...sex, rape and more. And to fill that bill, they cast the blazing wild woman of the era, Raquel Torres...a Mexican actress who excelled at showing off skin and her ample good looks. Here you see her in LOTS of suggestive outfits, poses and situations...and often playing against the new preacher on the island, the Reverend Sims (Charles Bickford).
Torres plays Nina, a fiery young woman living on a fictional Caribbean island. When her boyfriend is torn apart by a shark, she becomes bitter and angry...and the new preacher decides to make her his pet project. Who will win in the end...the earthy and sex-crazed Nina or the godly preacher? Considering it's a Pre-Code film...the possibilities are endless...and most likely rather cynical!
The film is, not surprisingly, anything but subtle. Torres' character is more a caricature than a real woman and the dialog, at times, is a bit embarrassing...such as her father insisting that what she needed was a good horse whipping! He also refers to the locals as a group of 'slimy, drooling native'! So much for subtlety or political correctness! But that also is what makes the film oddly entertaining. What also helps is the surprisingly good cast including Boris Karloff, John Miljan, Gibson Gowland (of "Greed") and Mack Swain (a frequent foil in Chaplin films).
Overall, it's a film more entertaining than well made. Technically, it ain't great--with a silly script and too much stock footage. But, despite this, it IS fun.
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