Now in reviewing this title and reading up on it I learned that Devil Bat was actually supposed to a horror comedy. That seems strange to me because I actually took it for a more serious early horror film when I was younger and even upon my most recent viewing. It seems that all Universal-esque titles of the time with an element of horror understood that the movie had to balance the terrifying and strange with an element of comedy. This is where a movie like Devil Bat can shine. It’s just off the wall enough to give you a few solid chuckles, but the bat… the giant bat monster that permeates that night to KILL… well it’s kinda scary if you watch the movie with the lights off and grab your kids shoulders every now and again and yell boo. Even Frankenstein had a few moments of slapstick chicanery.
You watch Devil Bat because you want to watch Bela Lugosi in something other than Dracula or other Universal Monster picture that has a tolerable production value. Producers Releasing Corporation may not have been the mark of quality but you occasionally got a watchable movie unlike other penny cinema offerings that imitated, poorly the art of filmmaking (I’m looking at you The Corpse Vanishes from Monogram Pictures). Director Jean Yarbrough goes on to direct King of the Zombies in 1941 (which actually went up for an Academy Award for music), House of Horrors in 1946 and She-Wolf of London in 1946.
I think you pick up Devil Bat because you want to scare the kids or relive memories of watching it on the Late Late Shock show du jour from your childhood. Set your expectation to “reasonable” and check it out. This met my expectation for quality and exceeded the look of the previous releases I had seen when I was younger.
Devil Bat is available through Kino Lorber.