28 user 23 critic

Nightwing (1979)

PG | | Horror | 22 June 1979 (USA)
Killer bats plague an Indian reservation in New Mexico.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Youngman Duran
Phillip Payne
Anne Dillon
Walker Chee
George Clutesi ...
Abner Tasupi
Ben Piazza ...
Roger Piggott
Donald Hotton ...
John Franklin
Judith Novgrod ...
Claire Franklin
Pat Corley ...
Charlie L. Bird ...
Danny Zapien ...
Joe Mamoa
Peter Prouse ...


A colony of vampire bats terrorize a small Indian community in New Mexico. Standard "Nature goes berserk" plot takes a twist toward the end when supernatural forces are discovered working through the bats. Written by B.M.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In the dead of night they come - Swift - Silent - Savage See more »




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 June 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Morsures  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (video)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie won Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society's 2nd Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1979. See more »


Abner Tasupi: The winged animals are Yelaw's messengers
See more »


Featured in Terror in the Aisles (1984) See more »


Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue
Performed by Crystal Gayle
Courtesy of United Artists Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Unfairly maligned.
14 January 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This adaptation of the Martin Cruz Smith novel (scripted by Steve Shagan, Bud Shrake, and Smith himself) is actually pretty faithful to the source material. Ultimately, it's not quite as satisfying as Smiths' story, where the characters were given more depth. But it's still a striking and interesting (if not great) film, an unusual mix of animal horror, human drama, and Indian mysticism. The actors in all of the major roles are pretty good, and director Arthur Hiller - a man known more for mainstream comedies and dramas such as "Love Story" - does his best working within a different genre. It's true that the film doesn't have very much suspense, but the animal attacks are NOT that badly done, despite the presence of some chintzy effects. At the very least, what "Nightwing" has to recommend it is beautiful New Mexico scenery and a solid score by Henry Mancini.

Nick Mancuso stars as Maskai policeman Youngman Duran, faced with sudden and mysterious deaths of animals and humans alike. An Englishman named Phillip Payne (David Warner) knows the score: the culprits are vampire bats, and he's the man to take care of the problem. Apparently eradicating this species is his life's work (one would think that animal rights activists would take exception to such a pursuit), because he believes that they embody evil. Yeah, I know, pretty thin for a motivation. Making life difficult for Duran is local mover and shaker Walker Chee (Stephen Macht), a man who's made it *his* mission to acclimate himself to the white man's world, and who's giving an assist to a mining company.

Overall, this isn't bad, even if lacking in style. It's fundamentally a decent story that's capably told. Mancuso is engaging in the lead, and Warner delivers his lines with total conviction, no matter how silly his character may be; the film benefits from his presence. The lovely Kathryn Harrold is appealing as Youngman's white love interest Anne Dillon, George Clutesi (who was in another Indian themed horror film from the same year, "Prophecy") is memorable in the small part of old priest Abner, and the great Strother Martin, in one of his final film roles, is a joy to watch as always as the bigoted trading post operator Selwyn. Among the supporting cast are character players Ben Piazza, Donald Hotton, Charles Hallahan, Alice Hirson, and Pat Corley.

"Nightwing" is definitely worth a look for the curious.

Seven out of 10.

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