directed by Louis Morneau
(Columbia TriStar, 1999)

Movie formulas can work, which is why they became formulas in the first place. But plots and character types can only be recycled and reused so many times before some element of freshness is injected for variety's sake.

Bats is one of those critters-gone-wild flicks that cuts every person and story thread from the Big Book of Hollywood Cliches. There's nothing original to be found.

A scientist has tampered with bats, infecting them with a virus that makes them smart and encourages them to ferociously eat people. They escape and menace a small Texas town as prelude to spreading and destroying the World As We Know It.

In the opening scene of a horror movie, what do you expect to happen to the teenage lovers in the parked car? Right.

Bats is populated with rubber-stamp characters such as Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer), the sympathetic bat expert with a tough attitude concealing a heart of gold; Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips), the homespun hick hero who cracks the leading lady's tough shell and whose every bullet finds its mark; Jimmy Sands (Leon), the cowardly, wise-cracking black sidekick; and Dr. Alexander McCabe (Bob Gunton), the mad scientist who tampers with nature and must, of course, pay the price at the hands (or claws) of his creation.

The film might have worked if they'd approached it with a wink and grin, but the cast follows director Louis Morneau's lead and takes this all way too seriously. Oh, and the bats don't even look very real.

Still wondering if you should watch this one? Then why the heck are you reading movie reviews, anyway?

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 13 March 2004

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