I dunno sometimes...you try and try and try to be charitable towards all the B thru Z grade movies out there, but once in a while a particular movie just tests your patience until you want to slap everyone involved. "Bat People" (which I saw under the title "It Lives By Night") is just such a movie. You can't watch this without thinking that it really should have been an episode on "Night Gallery", and not one of the better ones, either.
The movie has something to do with a doctor who gets bitten by a bat and consequently starts to morph into a Were-Bat who drinks human blood. (Actually, you'd think if he was turning into a real bat, he'd be eating mosquitoes by the gallon bucket, but because this is a cheap, lurid horror movie, blood's the word.) In spite of the fact that he has grand-mal seizures at the drop of a hat, and black-out episodes almost every night, his friend and fellow physician, Dr. Mustache Aspen-Extreme, insists that he's just having an 'allergic reaction' to the rabies shots. Meanwhile, the world's most obnoxious and stereotyped county sheriff suspects the doc of being responsible for the brutal murder and exsanguination of several local girls (and one wino). Also meanwhile, the doctor's wife decides that denial IS a river in Egypt and alternately patronizes him and nags him to distraction.
It's not so much that the acting is bad - you can tell that the actors are making professional level choices, and are trying to bring some juice and life to the script, even the guy who plays the sheriff. (Okay, it IS pretty bad, but it's bad in a clichéd, wooden, professional way). It's just that everything about the acting, the way the scenes are paced, the costumes, the dialog, the script and the story line in general sets your teeth on edge and makes you want to, well, slap everyone involved.
I think the movie had an outside chance at being a spooky, unsettling little cult favorite, BUT:
1)The director needed to beat Michael Pataki, an experienced character actor, with a chair until Pataki agreed to ACT, and not just channel Dennis Weaver.
2)He also needed to find a script that made a little more sense with regard to the whole "Bat Bites Human, Who Then Turns Into A Bat" scenario.
3) He also needed the actor who played the doctor to find a little more physically believable bit of stage business for his 'episodes', instead of resorting to "Man Has A Seizure" page from the Little Golden Book of Clichéd Acting Mannerisms.
4) He needed to rework the whole 'wife' character, make her both more intelligent, less shrill and waaaaay more observant.
I would never voluntarily watch this film again, except with the help of Mike and the Bots. It's bad, but it isn't bad in a silly, humorous or interesting way. Still better than "Battlefield Earth" or "Waterworld", though.
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