The Ninjabot

The Cinema Slums: Bats (1999)

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 7:30 am by Adam Knabe

Welcome to the first installment of The Cinema Slums. I will be your guide into the crappiest corners of the movie universe and hopefully we will come out alive on the other side. Warning, there will be tons of spoilers! This is for your own good. I suffer so you don’t have to!


-Weaponized omnivorous hive minded viral killer bats!

-Sexy Chiropterologist from Starship Troopers!

-Wise cracking sidekick who won’t let you forget he hates bats!

-Super duper weaponized refrigerator gun!

-Bat shit jokes because the world doesn’t have enough!


Directed by: Louis Morneau (Retroactive, Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead, Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting, Carnosaur 2, & Werewolf: The Beast Among Us)

Screenplay by: John Logan (Rango, The Last Samurai, Hugo, Any Given Sunday, Skyfall, The Aviator, & Star Trek Nemesis)

Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton, Leon, & Carlos Jacott

The government, in all its wisdom, decides it would be a good idea to weaponize bats so they hire Dr. Alexander McCabe to genetically modify some bats to be omnivorous (Why not just make them carnivorous? So they might still want to partake in a salad before munching into a human steak?) and harness the ability to think with a psychic hive mind. Like all good experiments by any mad doctor these bats escape and coincidentally the modifications made to them have gone viral and begin to spread among the bat population. I really don’t get the science and neither do any of the three doctors in this film! So anyway, these killer bats descend on a small Texas town and start murdering the townsfolk.

Which means it’s time for Dr. McCabe and a member of the CDC,Dr. Tobe Hodge, to enlist everyone’s favorite cliche: The Sexy Female Scientist! who now comes with a new improved wise cracking sidekick who never shuts up. Doctor Shelia Casper, the world’s best Chiropterologist (but of course!) and her wacky sidekick Jimmy Sands join Doctor McCabe, Doctor Hodge, and a handsome no nonsense Sheriff Emmet Kimsey to rid the town of this bat menace.

Bats Sexy Scientist

As this rag tag bunch of movie cliches try to figure out how to track and kill these bats the mayor of the town fails miserably at getting the townsfolk to evacuate. A blood bath in the town square ensues until finally the townsfolk decide to high tail it out right before the army is called in to begin to take steps in blowing the whole town to kingdom-come. By this point the nervous and extremely useless Dr. Hodge has been mauled to death leaving four of our rag tag group to try and fry the bats with a bunch of electrified fencing at a local school. Dr. McCabe loses his last screw and begins to believe the delusion the bats obey his every whim. The bats respond to this by ripping the good Doctor up (and I wouldn’t have it any other way…)

With the town completely evacuated, the bats being scared back to their nest in an abandon mine, and the army about to bomb the whole place you would think this would be a good time to end the film. But no! The Sheriff cannot live with the idea of all those empty houses being blown up so he takes the sexy scientist Doctor Shelia Casper and her sidekick Jimmy Sands and plans to use some untested super refrigeration unit to freeze all the bats. Doctor Casper and Sheriff Kimsey spelunk into the bat’s cave where the army has somehow gotten the world’s biggest freezing unit down into this seemingly impenetrable cave. They try to start up the unit but break it in the process and have to resort to blowing the bats up like they should have done in the first place. With seconds to spare the air strike is called off and the day is saved from killer bats… and any chance of a good movie!

 Bats Lou Diamond


The Breaks:

Animals run amok films are a huge staple of the horror genre. From killer shrews, frogs, ants, rabbits, sheep, worms, snakes, dogs, sharks, grasshoppers, and so on. If it is part of the animal kingdom then it probably has a horror film about it and most of these films don’t take themselves too seriously which usually works in their favor.

Bats in horror films don’t usually just run amok but are strongly associated with vampires which makes them even more interesting and frightening in my opinion. This movie takes the two above mentioned notions of not taking itself too seriously and the allure of vampires and goes in the completely wrong direction giving us a dry and ultimately boring affair. All the scientific mumbo jumbo in this movie is thick and really bogs the movie down. When watching a killer bat movie I do not need an extensive science lesson on bats. I just want to see bats ripping people up in all the gory glory I can imagine. Instead we get a lot of flapping wings, squirming people, and shaky cam. The filmmaker spent all his special effects on some rubbery looking robotic bats instead of some good old fashion over the top gore.

Bats rubber bat

And then there is the completely bat shit (pun intended!) plot. We spend the first half of the movie with characters who have information but aren’t telling anyone for no good reason and other characters who refuse to believe it’s killer bats. By the time everything starts going crazy nobody knows how to handle these creatures. Most of the characters just shoot wildly into swarms of bats with little to no effect. The idea that these modified bats can suddenly pass their weird powers on to other bats makes no sense at all but then again, maybe I am the fool looking for sense in a killer bat movie. The real problem is this movie is no fun. It is as fun as taking a whole bottle of Nyquil and then going to your local park to listen to a monotone ranger rattle on about the mating habits of bats. Which I might do one of these days.

The characters are all wooden clichés but the worst offender is the annoying and ever present motor mouth one liner spewing sidekick Jimmy Sands. This guy will not shut up! He just keeps spewing one annoying sound bite after another and somehow never gets ripped up by these killer bats, which is the true crime of this film. I want crappy one liners in a killer bat movie, but I don’t need them none stop and at such poor quality as the crap Jimmy is peddling!

For example:

There. Now it’s securer than the god damn Alamo.

Clip their Wings? Man, Could you just shoot their damn heads off? And don’t miss.

Houston, we’ve got a problem.

I hate you.

I hate you.

The most perplexing part of this overall movie may be how such an awful screen play could be written by a man with a list of great films under his belt. To be fair this was one of the first scripts he ever wrote and it was probably just a paycheck but the very idea that the guy who wrote Hugo and Skyfall wrote this is just astounding. The director on the other hand? A bunch of low rent direct to DVD sequels of sub par horror films and a mediocre Jim Belushi sci-fi thriller. That explains a lot.

The Bottom Line:

Bats is a snooze fest and failed opportunity to pile on the gore for a hammy good time. Avoid this at all costs!

Bats: F



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