After an unknown assailant spikes the punch of a pharmaceutical family Christmas with a military grade version of sodium pentothal during Secret Santa, members of the family must survive the night from the victims of the untested drug.
The tense survival tale is set over several late-night hours in a sparsely-peopled Brazilian restaurant. When an armed robbery interrupts an already-terse dynamic between boss and customer,... See full summary »
I heartily recommend this movie, which won Best Narrative Film at Hollywood's Dances With Films indie film festival in the year 2000. Set in southern California in 1959, ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS follows
the exhausted but resourceful Chuck Grayson (Michael Dalmon) as he scrambles
to meet the challenge thrown down from on high by his boss, the penny-pinching producer-director Francis Gordon (Fred Ballard). That challenge? -- To put
together and shoot an entire "creature feature" in a scant three days, using the grouchy, exhausted cast and crew who have just finished filming "Monster From the Mineshaft." Why just three days? Because MFTM wrapped three days early and Gordon, a
selfish, demanding character patterned after the notorious real-life low-budget indie filmmaker Roger Corman, intends to milk his equipment, talent and permits at the rock quarry for every last ounce of movie making. Chuck's biggest difficulties consist of coming up with a title, a script, a monster and an affordable star (i.e., washed-up and cheap) to boost the marquee value of the movie. For the script, Chuck recruits a hop-head beatnik writer, played by Robert Bassetti, to write as they shoot. To make the monster, he coaxes a
mad-scientist-like sociopath portrayed by Bill Wise. For his "name" actor, Chuck reels in the boozy, seedy Larry "The Cat Creature" Meeker, Jr. (Douglas Taylor). You get two movies for the price of one here, for as ATTACK OF THE BAT
MONSTERS gets filmed, you get to see clips from the final black-and-white
product, which in style and content (down to the thriller music by Tim Bushong) is a hilarious pastiche of all those drive-in movies of yesteryear that crammed
together science-fiction, outlandish monsters and (for the European market) some bare-breasted titillation. ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS offers numerous comic sequences that build
to a rollicking climax, and the entire cast is fun to watch. Robert Graham, as the aged Shakespearian actor reduced to playing the wise old scientist, is both funny and touching. Ryan Wickerham, as Chuck's macho, fun-loving best friend and
hunkish leading man, is amusing throughout, and Casie Waller, as Gordon's
burnt-out "scream queen" girlfriend, shines in several scenes, especially the one where she teaches an extra the finer points of screaming for film. The tension between Fred Ballard's Gordon and Michael Dalmon's Chuck Grayson provides a
couple of genuine moments of pathos. In fact, Ballard and Dalmon are in a sense the two straight men for the wacky assemblage of misfits they're herding. Shot on a frayed-shoestring of a budget in and around Austin, Texas, the film does a fine job of creating the period and locale. Nicely lensed in Super-16mm by Tom Hennig. The Bat Monster herself is laugh-out loud funny and is the creation of Joe Castro, who has also displayed his talents in such genre films as
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (produced by the real Roger Corman), and
BLOODFEAST 2: ALL U CAN EAT.
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