aka It Lives By Night
Director – Jerry Jameson, Screenplay/Producer – Lou Shaw, Photography – Matthew Leonetti, Music – Artie Kane, Photographic Effects – Howard A. Anderson Co, Special Effects – Terry Urbano, Makeup Effects – Stanley Winston. Production Company – Eastborne Productions.
Stewart Moss (Dr John Beck), Marianne McAndrew (Cathy Beck), Michael Pataki (Sergeant Ward), Paul Carr (Dr Kipling)
While on holiday, John Beck, a scientist researching bat immunology, joins a group tour of a maze of caverns. Straying away from the group, he is bitten by a bat. Soon after, he begins to hear noises that nobody else can and is driven to consume blood. Eventually, Beck’s wife Cathy discovers that he is turning into a bat creature.
The Bat People is a low-budget B movie from the 1970s. It was a directorial debut for Jerry Jameson, primarily a tv director who would later go onto make a number of disaster movies including Airport ’77 (1977), the tv movie A Fire in the Sky (1978), Raise the Titanic (1980) and Starflight One (1983).
The Bat People has a ridiculous premise – Stewart Moss is bitten by a bat whereupon he turns into a bat. Why or how is never clearly explained. One is not sure if the fact he was researching bat immunology is somehow connected. (No doubt, the biological thinking the film seems to operate on would have veterinary personnel who deal with rabid dogs or snake handlers worried about similarly becoming hybrids should they be accidentally bitten). At heart, the idea is only the old werewolf theme, conducted with bats instead of wolves.
The film is indifferently made – there is much running around and various attack scenes but hardly anything happens. Three-quarters of the film is nearly over before the film reveals what the audience has known all along – indeed, what the very title of the film has shouted out – that Stewart Moss has become a bat-man.
The only time the film raises itself out of this tedium is at the end, which contains a mildly imaginative scene with Stewart Moss transforming into a (not very well made-up – one of the earliest pieces of work from Stan Winston) bat person during coitus with Marianne McAndrew with the transformation occurring while she has her eyes closed in passion.