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Robert Sean Leonard
A colony of vampire bats terrorize a small Indian community in New Mexico. Standard "Nature goes berserk" plot turns extra hokey toward the end when supernatural forces are discovered working through the bats. Written by
The Day belongs to Man...The Night belongs to Them
******SPOILERS****** One of the main reasons that I like "Nightwing" is that the movie educates the audience about the subject matter in it. You learn more about Vampire Bats in just a five minute conversation between Phillip Payne, David Warner, the Bat investigator and Walker Chee, Stephan Macht, the Indian official then you learned about the same subject in all the movies that Hollywood made about Bats put together.
The movie also gives you an interesting look about what I think is it's main subject; the mystical and religious as well as the cultural customs of the American Indians of the American South-West. The movie "Nightwing" has a dual story in it. Deadly Vampire Bat attacks on people and livestock in the South-West, the state of Arizona. There's an attempt by a big oil conglomerate, Peabody Mining, to buy up and strip mine a large section of two Indian Reservations, the Pahana & Maskie. This is being done with the help of a corrupt top Indian official, Walker Chee, in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
A number of cows and horses are found dead and the local farmers as well as government officials are left confused and baffled by what caused it. These incidents have attracted Phillip Payne who's a bat researcher or as he calls himself "The Exterminating Angel" to the area. Payne has been tracking down the migration of Vampire Bats since 1973 from South America Mexico and now to the southern part of the United States and he thinks that a large colony of Vampire Bats are responsible for whats been happening in the places effected with dead livestock and now people. There has also developed a number of deaths due to Bubonic Plague which Payne feel that the Bats are transmitting to both people as well as animals. Both the Peabody Mining Corp. and Walker Chee want to keep all this out of the news in order to protect their attempted land grab in the area.
With nothing able to stop the "Killer Bats" advance as they attack and kill people and cattle almost undeterred as a last resort Indian Police Sheriff Youngman Duran, Nick Mancuso,tries something new to stop the killer bats. With the help of ancient Indian Mysticism that Duran learned from his friend and Maskie Indian High Priest Abner Tasupi, George Clutsei, he's able to stem the tide of the Vampire Bat invasion.
Defiantly better then most of the movies about the same subject with it's focus on detail science and history instead of horror shock and gore. The rivalry between the upright and honest Indian Sheriff Youngman Duran and the corrupt and deceiving Indian official Walker Chee alone makes the movie interesting all by itself.
The Bat menace in the movie was intelligently handled and the film tried as much as possible to keep the supernatural and mystical angle in check making it more real as well as effective. The final sequence of "Nightwing" in the deadly "Bat Cave" as Duran Payne and Duran's girlfriend Anne Dillion, Kathryn Harrold, were working against the clock, or better yet the night, to destroy the giant Vampire Bat colony before it woke up was nail biting and very effectively done. The scenes of the Bat attacks in the movie, there were only three, were believable as well as shocking even though the special effects back then, in 1979, were primitive to what they are in movies today.
All and all "Nightwing"is one of the most unknown, it's almost impossible to find it on VHS today and it's never been released on DVD, and at the same time best movies about "Killer Bats" that you'll ever see.
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