It seems like all sorts of black and white movies center on a group of people cooped up in a big house while some sort of mystery unfolds. There’s generally a questionable character lurking around, an alarming body count…and a rainstorm. They don’t make ’em like they used to, but The Bat is a not-so-classic classic that will take you back to the good old days.
The fabulous Agnes Moorehead stars as mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder, a lovely lady who lives in a huge house with a million dollars hidden somewhere inside. Unfortunately the house is situated in an area beset with problems; a bit of a forest fire, bit of a bat infestation, and a bit of a serial killer who calls himself The Bat. (Picture a black sock used as a mask and some freaky-deaky gloves with makeshift points, and you’ll have some sense of the horror of The Bat.) There’s some degree of confusion with all of the bat activity in the movie. A regular bat bites Cornelia’s maid, so, fearing rabies, they call the local doctor/scientist (Vincent Price) who just happens to be researching bats. So much talk about bats and so little time.
Having lost her household staff to the bat scare, Cornelia invites a group of girlfriends over to spend the night – like you do when there’s a murderer on the loose and you’re afraid to be home alone. Fears intensify after Cornelia makes a grisly discovery behind a secret panel. The ladies retire to their rooms, in part to stay safe, but also in case police need to investigate the house? ‘Cause it’s not weird to have the cops potentially poking around downstairs while you lie in your bed and listen for prowlers. Little by little, the ladies creep out of their rooms and begin getting into trouble. Inevitably The Bat shows up, followed by the doctor, followed by a total Scooby Doo Ending.
It’s safe to say that The Bat only hangs together in the loosest sense, but it’s also fairly delightful. Vincent Price is dapper and charming, and Agnes Moorehead is simultaneously elegant and campy. The movie is less about plot than the notion of suspense, and the actors do a decent job of making it seem like something’s going on when in fact the movie might not make any sense.