The Vampire Bat (1933)

vampire bat poster 1933 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good cast and decent visuals

Usually poor transfers, story never feels like it comes together

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Vampire Bat

Studio:  Larry Darmour Productions

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  January 20, 1933 (Premiere)/January 21, 1933 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

vampire bat melvyn douglas robert frazer

Lurk much, dude?

The village of Kleinschloss is being plagued by death which seem to indicate a vampire.  Karl Breettschneider (Melvyn Douglas) thinks the stories are myths and that the villagers are being superstitious but Dr. Otto von Niemann (Lionel Atwill) questions if it can possibly be true.  The people keep dying and anyone could be a suspect…especially the simple man named Herman Gleib (Dwight Fry) who seems fascinated with bats.  Breettschneider and his girlfriend Ruth Bertin (Fay Wray) must stop the deaths and uncover the truth of the murders!

Directed by Frank R. Strayer, The Vampire Bat is a horror mystery film.  The film is in public domain and frequently part of multi-movie packs.

When VCRs were new, having a “real” video instead of something just recorded off of TV was a luxury.  Public domain movies were always cheap (but fun) means to pass time.  I had a copy of Night of the Living Dead and my friend had a copy of The Vampire Bat.  I know I watched The Vampire Bat at least once, but it didn’t leave much of an impact.

vampire bat lionel atwill monster

Wow…you made a potato in an aquarium

The story is a bit odd in that you expect with The Vampire Bat as a title for it to be about vampires.  Instead the story is about a serial killer stealing the blood of victims for a Frankenstein type monster.  It is an odd blend of a lot of horror aspects into a story that isn’t very satisfying.  It feels like all the elements are there for a good story, but the story fails to reach the level of other classic horror films.

The cast is good though they have all been in better movies.  Melvyn Douglas plays the “handsome lead” and never seems to develop past this generic stock character.  He’s joined by King Kong star Fay Wray who also becomes a damsel in distress here.  Lionel Atwill plays the mad scientist with his beat heart-like creature and Robert Frazer plays a nice henchman in Borst who does a good job “looming”.  I also like Maude Eburne as the hypochondriac aunt.  Dracula stand-out Dwight Frye plays a similar role in this film as the simple minded Herman Gleib who pays for his eccentric behavior.

vampire bat lionel atwill fay wray

Sir…could you take a Tic-Tac?

The movie has a lot of what makes old horror films great.  The black-and-white imagery of the film is moody and creates a better story than the actual story.  Unfortunately for The Vampire Bat, it is often in poor quality and really rough prints.  With a cleaner print and better visuals, the movie might stand up better.

The Vampire Bat is one of the better “public domain” horror movies but still not a great movie.  Many of the other big name classics have earned their place among the Horror Hall of Fame, but The Vampire Bat probably falls in the second tier instead of the bottom tier.  It has the right ideas, the right cast, and the right visuals, but the story never comes together in a satisfactory way…still if you are a fan of classic horror, it is worth checking out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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