Horror Movie Review: The Bat (1959)
The Bat is a black and white horror movie starring Agnes Moorhead and Vincent Price. It was released in 1959 and, although it can probably be classed as a horror movie, it has equally good credentials as a mystery.
Moorhead plays mystery writer Cornelia van Gorder, who is renting a large country house for the summer. The house is called The Oaks. It belongs to the local bank manager John Fleming, but it’s his nephew Mark who is renting the house to the writer. Mark is the local real estate agent and as his Uncle has gone away on a hunting expedition for the summer, Mark sees no point in allowing the property to stand empty.
The bank manager is not quite the upstanding gentleman that people believe him to be though and has stolen over $1 million worth of securities from his bank. Worse still, he has left his cashier very much in the frame for the theft. Fleming confides this information to his friend Dr Wells, who has accompanied him on the hunting expedition, and Wells is more than a little surprised at the revelation. Fleming has a reason for sharing his secret. Although he’s confident that he has successfully covered his tracks at the bank, as an extra precaution he intends to fake his own death and wants his friend to help him. Wells reminds Fleming that they would need a body. The bank manager has already thought of this and suggests they murder their guide Sam and ensure his body is so unrecognizable no one will suspect the deception. If the Doctor agrees to help him Fleming will split the money with him. If not he will shoot him.
Wells doesn’t seem to have a lot of choice in the matter, but when his gun-toting companion is distracted by a forest fire Wells picks up his own gun and shoots Fleming. The doctor knows Fleming had a secret room built into The Oaks, realizes that that is where he will have hidden the stolen securities, and intends to take the lot.
When she hears of Fleming’s death, Van Gorder has her doubts about him and believes that it was he who stole the money and not the cashier, who is a personal friend of hers and is now in jail. These are the least of her worries though. There has been someone prowling around the grounds of the house and the papers are full of stories about The Bat, a merciless killer who has no face and rips women’s throats out with a steel claw!
Doctor Wells spends a lot of time at The Oaks. The Bat is never too far away from the house either and seems to be looking for something. Are the doctor and The Bat one and the same person though? Or could the writer’s chauffeur/butler be the man behind the mask? The identity of the killer remains a mystery right up to the end of the movie.
The Bat is an entertaining little film but I think it’s Vincent Price who steals the show and he dominates every scene with the sheer strength of his persona. Moorhead also plays quite a strong part, but the thing that I will always remember about her in this film is not her acting, but one of her dresses. It is horrible. Don’t believe me? Check it out here.
Director: Crane Wilbur
Vincent Price … Dr. Malcolm Wells
Agnes Moorehead … Cornelia van Gorder
Gavin Gordon … Lt. Andy Anderson
John Sutton … Warner, the chauffeur
Lenita Lane … Lizzie Allen
Elaine Edwards … Dale Bailey
Darla Hood … Judy Hollander
John Bryant … Mark Fleming
Harvey Stephens … John Fleming
Robert Williams … Detective Davenport
Mike Steele … Victor Bailey
Riza Royce … Jane Patterson