Mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder has rented a country house called "The Oaks", which not long ago had been the scene of some murders committed by a strange and violent criminal known as "The Bat". Meanwhile, the house's owner, bank president John Fleming, has recently embezzled one million dollars in securities, and has hidden the proceeds in the house, but he is killed before he can retrieve the money. Thus the lonely country house soon becomes the site of many mysterious and dangerous activities.Written by
THE BAT is a film based on the novel/play by Avery Hopwood and Mary Roberts Rinehart that was very popular in the twenties and early thirties. There were two previous film versions; one silent version made in the twenties and an early sound version made in 1930, the latter version mostly recalled today because it was one of the first films shot in 70mm and what we today call "wide screen." Watching this 1959 version, I couldn't help get the feeling that this film belongs to era more remote than 1959. This kind of plot, with its creaky old mansion, secret passage ways, mysterious masked killer, hidden money etc., had just about vanished from the screen since the mid thirties. Other films of this type include the various versions of CAT AND THE CANARY and SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPLATE. Apparently someone noticed a film of this type hadn't been made in a while and it was a long time since the last version of THE BAT had been filmed.
This 1959 version is none-the-less a very entertaining "killer lurking around spooky old mansion" thriller. The entire cast is excellent, including stars Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. The film very effectively keeps the killers identity from the audience until the very end. But when the killers identity is revealed, it begins to make sense when one thinks about. Perhaps of interest to today's viewers is how the killer some what resembles Freddy Kreuger. Despite being an entertaining thriller, THE BAT didn't inspire a revival of this genre.
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