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Bats (1999, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer)



Morneau’s cult horror opens with a suitably shocking scene, as a young couple making out on a warm summer night are killed by a swarm of bats. Surprisingly swiftly, the government take notice and put together a task force. Dr Sheila Kasper (Dina Meyer) is joined by the town’s sheriff Emmet Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips), and together they realise their colleague Dr Alexander McCabe (Bob Gunton) is to blame for the deaths, having developed a virus that increases the mammal’s intelligence and aggressiveness..

The bats’ attacks intensify, and it becomes obvious that if left unchecked, the new species will eventually overrun the planet. The military consider a carpet bombing campaign, but when Kasper claims this will never work she is given a few hours to activate her own plan: locate the bats’ lair, force the animals into hibernation and save humanity…

It was a summer for beasts gone bad, with the glorious Lake Placid and the dubious Deep Blue Sea debuting. Morneau’s low-budget curiosity checks all the genre’s boxes – inept cops, eccentric heroes, mad scientist – but it works because there’s no grasp for profundity. It’s an unapologetic shocker built on the tension delivered by a decent script. Motivation and back story are expertly managed, leaving the solid Meyer and Phillips to compensate for the noticeable lack of digital sorcery. A tasty tribute to Hitchcock (trapping his heroine in a phone box a la Tippi Hedren) illustrates a sophisticated humour, and we’ll always have room for rubber bats purloined, presumably, from a prop room marked ‘House of Hammer’.

production details
USA | 91 minutes | 1999

Director: Louis Morneau
Script: John Logan,

Lou Diamond Phillips as Sheriff Emmett Kimsey
Dina Meyer as Dr. Sheila Casper
Bob Gunton as Dr. Alexander McCabe
Leon as Jimmy Sands
Carlos Jacott as Dr. Tobe Hodge
David McConnell as Deputy Wesley Munn
Marcia Dangerfield as Mayor Amanda Branson
Oscar Rowland as Dr. Swanbeck
Juliana Johnson as Emma
Ned Bellamy as Major Reid
George Gerdes as Chaswick
James Sie as Sergeant James