Public Domain Movie: The Vampire Bat (1933)

Horror Movie Review – The Vampire Bat (1933)

The Vampire Bat is not a usual run-of-the-mill vampire movie. There are no howling wolves—the children of the night seem to have lost their singing voices. Nor is there a dusty, old castle or any sign of coffins. There is a laboratory though, and it looks a little reminiscent of Frankenstein’s lab.

In the opening sequence, an old man is hobbling along the dusky streets of Kleinschloss. He is carrying a lantern and leaning heavily on his stick. Some large bats are hanging from the branches of a nearby tree. The old man glances up at the bats and then sees something much larger than a bat crossing the rooftops. He hobbles off as fast as he can and the camera zooms in on a lighted upper window just as a woman’s scream rips through the night.

Meanwhile, the town fathers are engaged in a meeting and are discussing what they believe to be a resurgence of vampirism.

There are five men sitting at the table but only one man, Police Inspector Karl Brettschneider, seems sceptical of the idea of vampires. Karl does not believe in vampires but people are dying in Kleinschloss, and the blood has been drained from every dead body.

The worst thing about all of this is that none of the villager’s preventative measures are not working. They lock their doors, close their windows, and clasp crosses to their chests while they sleep. Regardless of these precautions, many of them are still drained by the morning.

The Vampire Bat Movie Poster
The Vampire Bat (Movie Poster)

While the police inspector searches for a rational explanation for the deaths, Scientist, Dr Otto von Niemann, examines the victims and soon-to-be-victims and takes a less than scientific view. He believes a vampire may be active in Kleinschloss.

Dr von Nieman’s assistant, the more than lovely Ruth Bertin, is played by Fay Wray. If you are a fan of classic movies you may remember her from the original King Kong movie.

When she’s not busy working for the  doctor, Ruth spends a lot of time in the arms of Karl and the two make a rather attractive on-screen couple.

Of course, with so many unexplained deaths, the villagers need someone to point the finger at and it is the slightly dim-witted Herman Gleib that seems to be on the receiving end of their fingers. This is partly due to his unnatural obsession with bats, which he keeps as pets. As is so often the case on the silver screen, things are not as they may seem.

With a runtime of just under an hour, The Vampire Bat is not a long movie. It’s unlikely to fill many viewers with terror but it’s quite an entertaining and is probably a must-see movie for fans of Fay Wray.

The Vampire Bat: Additional Information

Directed by Frank R. Streyer


Lionel Atwill … Dr. Otto von Niemann
Fay Wray … Ruth Bertin

Melvyn Douglas … Karl Brettschneider
Maude Eburne … Aunt Gussie Schnappmann

George E. Stone … Kringen
Dwight Frye … Herman Gleib

Robert Frazer … Emil Borst
Rita Carlyle … Martha Mueller

Lionel Belmore … Burgermeister Gustave Schoen
William V. Mong … Sauer

Stella Adams … Georgiana
Harrison Greene … Weingarten

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