Retrospektive 2018

The Devil Bat

Jean Yarbrough
USA 1940
69 min

“Imbecile! Bombastic ignoramus!” Dieses Skript-Zitat darf nicht als Kritik missverstanden werden, doch die Dummheit der Figuren dieses Films lässt den Rachefeldzug von Dr. Paul Carruthers völlig gerechtfertigt erscheinen. Bela Lugosi spielt diesen Chemiker eines Kosmetik-Konzerns, der um seine Anteile gebracht wird und daraufhin Riesenfledermäuse züchtet, die er trainiert, Menschen zu töten, die ein bestimmtes Aftershave tragen (das er als Probeexemplar an seine Feinde verschickt). Der einstige Star von DRACULA agiert dabei zwar oft wenig glaub-, aber doch auf seine Art würdig – am schönsten sind die Szenen, in denen er oder seine mutierten Fledermäuse über die Leinwand irren.



Almost hard to watch except when mad doctor Bela Lugosi or his mutant bats are on screen, and padded to an unforgivable extent by scenes in which amateur detectives and potential victims stand around the set wondering about mysteries whose answers have been known to the viewer from the beginning, THE DEVIL BAT is at once less effective than it should be as a low-grade horror film and more effective than any film needs to be as an absurdist condemnation of human fatuousness. The stupidity of the characters is so total, and the characters themselves so irritating, that Lugosi and his campaign of revenge seem completely justified. The contribution of Jean Yarbrough, here making his second feature film as director, is not very distinguished, but more committed or more imaginative direction would hardly have made a difference to the film. (In his most worthwhile work, THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW, one of the glories of American television, Yarbrough seemed to function more as stage manager than as director.) THE DEVIL BAT belongs to, and exists solely for and because of, Lugosi. On a downward career spiral from which he would never manage to rebound, the former star of DRACULA compensates himself for the ignominy of appearing in this pathetic little production by wringing each of his scenes by the neck and acting everyone else off the screen. (Chris Fujiwara)


  • Bela Lugosi
  • Suzanne Kaaren
  • Dave O’Brien
  • Guy Usher
  • Yolande Donlan
  • Donald Kerr
  • Edmund Mortimer
  • George Bricker
  • John T. Neville
  • Arthur Martinelli
PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation)
16 mm
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