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With: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton, Leon, Carlos Jacott, David Shawn McConell, Marcia Dangerfield, Oscar Rowland, Tim Whitaker, Juliana Johnson, James Sie, Ned Bellamy, George Gerdes
Written by: John Logan
Directed by: Louis Morneau
MPAA Rating: R for some graphic, bloody bat attacks
Running Time: 91
Date: 10/22/1999

Bats (1999)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Bat Crave

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Let's face it. There are good bad-movies and bad bad-movies. Frogs (1972), Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), Anaconda (1997), and Lake Placid (1999) are good bad-movies. Bats doesn't quite fall into that category, nor does it fall into the bad bad-movie category. You really want to like it. It's kind of funny in a simple, old-fashioned kind of way, like the B-movies of old. But it really doesn't have much energy or imagination. The bat-attack scenes are among the worst action sequences I've ever seen in a movie; a hash of blurry blips and flashes of color instead of something we can actually see. The bats are done by either CGI (in flight) or really bad muppets when on land.

Bats stars Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Undertow), who has been relegated to straight-to-video films for a while now. And this would have been one too, had it not been the debut film for Destination Films, a new indie company. Phillips plays a cigar-chompin' sheriff of a small Texas town terrorized by mutant bats.

Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers) is an adorable twenty-something blonde scientist who is (of course) the world's leading expert on bats. She's smart and she looks great in a tank top. Leon (yep, that's his full name, from Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video) plays her wise-cracking assistant. And stage actor Bob Gunton (Evita) plays the evil scientist who altered the bats in the first place and now wants to try to save them. He actually says the line, "I'm a scientist -- that's what I do!"

The movie tries to surprise us with his deadly plan, but you know exactly who he is from his first leering close-up ten minutes in. Filmmakers, keep in mind: the best movies of this genre: The Birds (1963) and Jaws (1975) didn't have any explanation for their creatures' attacks. Maybe the heroes of Bats should have hired a movie critic as a script consultant to protect them from cliches.

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