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BATS

SYNOPSIS:
The town of Gallup, Texas experiences a series of bizarre killings. When the authorities suspect the attacks are related to a swarm of bats, zoologist Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer) is called in to help. She and her assistant Jimmy (Leon) are assigned to help local sheriff Emmett Kinsey (Lou Diamond Phillips). It emerges that the bats have been genetically altered to carry a virus which changes their behaviour and increases their intelligence. When the swarm attacks the town itself, the military is called in to eradicate the batsí roost. But Sheila has other plans...

"As a straightforward, no-nonsense horror outing, Bats does its job with efficiency but lacks the flair and sense of humour the subject matter demands. A throwback to the straight-faced "invasion" films of the 50's, Bats is the kind of B-grade spook show best viewed under the influence of a six-pack and pizza at a rural drive-in. Only a lucky few will ever have the pleasure of that experience but the rest of us in multiplexes can enjoy a few good scares as the ridiculous but energetically handled mayhem unfolds. Bats starts on the right note as a young couple at a railway crossing become bat-fodder during the opening credits and it moves along briskly enough for 91 minutes without reaching any great heights. Largely at fault is a screenplay which takes this nonsense far too seriously and at the same time does little to explain the hows and whys of the killer bats' creation. "It's what we doÖ" is all mad Dr McCabe can offer when quizzed about his motivations. Humour is sadly lacking from a scenario which begs for the kind of affectionate parody which made such monster movies like Piranha (1976), Humanoids From The Deep (1980) and the more recent Tremors (1992) such cheerful fun. The attempts of comic relief sidekick Leon to lighten the mood are miserable at best. On the brighter side it looks good in wide-screen and has some effective set-pieces, particularly when the bats descend onto the streets of Gallup where, incidentally, F.W.Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) has been held over for its 78th big year at the local cinema. Bats has the look and feel of a film which really belongs in the straight to video category but it has just enough cheap thrills for genre buffs to give it a look."
Richard Kuipers

"Holy cheesiness, Batman. Itís the attack of the killer bats! This variant on the "donít mess with nature or thereíll be trouble" sub-genre features plenty of action, a hackneyed script lightened by some zinging one-liners and a lot of laughs. The film certainly doesnít break any new ground and you could spend all evening picking the films it references. Just off the top of my head, I can nominate The Birds, Nosferatu, Mimic, Arachnophobia and Aliens. Thankfully, the cast and director donít pay the material too much reverence and play it for laughs much of the time. Of course, it delivers the standard message about interfering with the environment but doesnít say anything that hasnít been said (and said better) before. Lou Diamond Phillips is effective as the good olí boy sheriff trying to save his town from impending disaster. Dina Meyer plays off Phillips well as the tough but tender zoologist. The pair donít have a great deal of chemistry in the romance department, but work well as a bat-busting dynamic duo. Leon gets most of the best lines in the film, like "Is a pig pork?" (rhetorically). Bob Gunton also provides good, campy support as the (mad) scientist creator of the bat menace. Bats is a hilarious romp matched with some pretty impressive creature effects. Certainly not a movie for an intellectual challenge, but my take is that it was never intended as a film with any weight. Basically, donít take Bats seriously and youíll probably have fun."
David Edwards

"Keen movie buffs shouldn't be surprised to find Bats bears striking similarities to 1979's Nightwing, a little seen Dutch-financed thriller culled from Martin Cruz Smith's debut novel. Directed by Arthur Hiller and boasting a music score by Henry Mancini no less, the film's unsettling narrative, supported by some well-crafted and genuinely spooky special effects, placed it several notches above many of the other creature features of the time. As written by the clueless John Logan, Bats looks like it's been assembled from the off-cuts found in the old Nightwing editing room. At a time when infinitely more accomplished horror thrillers suffer the ignominy of a direct to video release, one can only speculate how a picture as routinely formulaic as Bats ever got made let alone gain a theatrical release. On the evidence presented here, it's fairly obvious that neither writer Logan nor director Louis Morneau share even a rudimentary understanding of the rules which govern the much over-worked genre they have chosen to exploit. It's a stricktly join-the-dots scenario where atmospheric chills and thrills have been replaced by a stampede of hoary cliches strung together with scant regard for logic and motivation. As the sheriff who must do battle with the leathery predators, Lou Diamond Phillips is at a career nadir here, but it's a serviceable performance which he'll easily survive. As will the ever reliable Bob Gunton as the obligatory villain of the piece. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Messrs Logan and Morneau. At best, their involvement with this hackneyed effort earns them the right to join the ranks of all those who continue to give the humble B-movie such a bad name."
Leo Cameron

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 2C

TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

BATS (M)
(US)

CAST: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton, Leůn, Carlos Jacott, David McConnell, Marcia Dangerfield, Oscar Rowland, Tim Whittaker, Juiliana Johnson

DIRECTOR: Louis Morneau

PRODUCER: Bradley Jenkel, Louise Rosner

SCRIPT: John Logan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: George Mooradian

EDITOR: Glenn Garland

MUSIC: Graeme Revell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Phillip Duffin

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: June 8, 2000







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