Volume 93, Issue 31
Tuesday, October 26, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
BATS sinks fangs into predictability
Gazette file photo
AND IF THAT DOESN'T WORK, LOU OVER HERE CAN SING 'LA BAMBA' AGAIN. Leon, Dina Meyer and Lou Diamond Phillips combat a swarm of bats in the innovatively entitled film, BATS.
By Luke Rundle
Rare is the Hollywood horror flick that is truly innovative and unique one which shuns the traditional conventions of the thriller. The new horror movie, BATS, is not one of those movies.
In fact, it may be the best example of why such derivative horror conventions were instituted namely, to give horrible movies something for audiences to pay attention to, instead of dying from boredom.
For starters, you must begin with the traditional component of a seemingly unbeatable, scientifically-bred foe which is not only ugly, but evil as well. The computer-generated nemeses in this flick fit the bill bats bred by an evil genius who bumped up their intelligence and aggression, while instilling in them an appetite for human flesh.
To add to the shock factor, their up close and personal profiles look a lot like Gremlins with wings. One almost wishes the subjects of the picture were at least grounded in reality. That way, it would be possible to walk out of the movie having learned something about the bats themselves.
Next, one must not forget about the traditional stereotyped characters. Lou Diamond Phillips stars as the generic Texas sheriff, smoking inner tube-sized cigars at every opportunity, walking with a distinct Marlboro Man quality and drawling out dry witticisms with the speed of a turtle on Prozac.
The female lead is played by Dina Meyer. Meyer is the gorgeous and intelligent bat expert who, despite never taking a bathroom break, manages to stay glamorous with teased hair and flawless makeup throughout the action.
Add in single-monikered actor Leon, as the wisecracking sidekick who repeats every scientific-sounding statement in plain English and you've got yourself the right ingredients for a truly predictable picture.
For added inanity, pit the characters against their foes in an impossible to fathom position and watch the battle unfold. In this case, the armed forces in the area are more than willing to supply our little band of heroes with all the body armour and weapons they need, but for some strange reason they don't want to intervene right away. This renders the band alone against their winged foes, with an air strike looming unless they manage to defeat the bats with their cunning and wits.
Trying to find the bright spots in this movie is as difficult as trying to spot a potbelly in a GAP commercial when something doesn't exist, there's no sense looking for it. The acting on all fronts is plodding and pedestrian, with many of the same problems affecting the plot.
Audiences with half a brain should be able to predict what line of dialogue the characters are about to utter and read the plot easier than a picture book with large print.
BATS is one of those straight to video releases destined to take up much needed space on bargain rental racks at your local video store. Not since Lake Placid and The Haunting has a horror film sucked the lifeblood out of audiences with such vampyric efficiency.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999