Dr. John Beck (Stewart Moss) and his wife, Cathy (Marianne McAndrew) are on a belated honeymoon ski trip. Beck studies bats. They decide to spend one afternoon taking a tour of some caverns. They slip away from the regular tour group to be by themselves. Cathy slips and falls into a cave ravine and panics. John climbs down to her to calm her. Now both of them are stuck and unable to climb out. While they wait to be missed by the group a bat flies at them and ends up biting John. They are eventually rescued.
John seems to have a slight reaction to the bat bite. Cathy finally convinces him to see the resort’s doctor, Dr. Kipling (Paul Carr). Not knowing whether or not the bat is rabid Carr decides to take all precautions and agrees to have rabies injections.
Right after the first injection John has a serious reaction to the medication. Soon after, John begins to experience vivid nightmares and visions of turning into a bat. He also begins to have seizures and blackouts. During these periods he begins attacking and killing people. Slimy police officer, Sgt Ward (Michael Pataki) knows something is up and sets his sights to prove that John is responsible for the murders as John continues his transformation into a were-bat and crave human blood.
“The Bat People” AKA “It Lives by Night” AKA “It’s Alive” was released in 1974 and was directed by Jerry Jameson. It is an American horror film.
The title is a bit of a misnomer. There are no bat people in the movie, just one bat-man. Since that moniker was taken the title was adjusted. Although the concept of a were-bat is an interesting one, the execution of the story is a long and mostly dull one. Plus, there is an overuse of stock footage of screaming bats.
The acting is fine, especially Moss, the tortured bat creature. The actual make-up of the were-bat, when you finally get to it, is great. The effects were done by Stan Winston in one of his earlier films. The movie also has a great ending, despite the fact that that it raises questions that are not answered.
Besides the lackluster story there is a really big plot hole that affects the movie. People get bitten by bats all the time and none of them turn into bats themselves. There’s no radioactivity, gamma rays or secret sauce involved. Just a regular bat. The movie weakly suggests that John may be mentally off balance and imagining that he is turning into a bat. What blows up that theory is that there is a string of dead people with their throats ripped out trailing behind him.
Another plot hole is that John started having nightmares and sensitive hearing before he got bitten by the bat. This would suggest that John already was a bat person and either the bat bite or the rabies injection triggered the transformation. It could also be that they just needed some spooky scenes inserted to offset the mostly boring film.
Stars Stewart Moss and Marianne McAndrew were married in real life. The movie was filmed in Carlsbad Caverns.