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Vampire Bats ReviewVampire Bats
By Marilyn Moss
Sunday, Oct. 30
"Vampire Bats" doesn't exactly have the makings of classic horror (or even Halloween) fare, but it's decent enough for a spell or two. The new CBS teleflick gives Lucy Lawless and Dylan Neal the chance to reprise their roles from the television movie "Locusts" as a husband and wife team of scientists who get embroiled in weird goings-on in the animal and insect worlds. This time around they're involved, appropriately enough, with maniacal bats who start attacking the community in which they live. What could be more Halloweenish? It's all good enough for one evening but few will be talking about it next morning.
Lawless is Dr. Maddy Rierdon, a college professor (and anyone who mistakes her for one hasn't been to college lately) who along with her husband, Dan Dryer (also a professor), has recently moved to a quiet Louisiana town just in time for a bizarre murder. One of her students is found dead -- and bloodless, at that -- with strange markings all over his body. Maddy gets cooking to find killers. Could they be vampire bats?
The movie has the right stuff to make it seem season: There are flying creatures, a cemetery, drunken students carrying on at a party. It's all here. So, too, are the effects: circular, even off-kilter camera angles (as if we were being watched, or as if some flying apparatus were about to swoop down). There is also some eery music from Doug Cuomo and some embellished editing from Micky Blythe.
Still, it all comes to little, as if the story had been told pretty often. The characters are stock at best, and Lawless and Neal seem somnambulists as they try to dig up the truth behind the town's terror. Casual and hip are one thing, but these two seem slightly asleep. Part of the problem may be the script they've been handed. Writer Doug Prochilo (who also created the characters) doesn't give the story anything unique but instead seems to rehash the Halloween-bat staples that we've been exposed to time and again. Director Eric Bross gives the movie a somewhat upbeat pace but doesn't lift it beyond the ordinary.
It's fun to see Brett Butler as Neal's sister, Timothy Bottoms as the town mayor and Craig Ferguson in a special appearance. For those who like Halloween -- or batty serial animal killers -- "Vampire Bats" will please enough. But you have to like the genre no matter what.
Von Zerneck/Sertner Films in association with Sony Pictures Television
Director: Eric Bross
Writer: Doug Prochilo
Based on characters by: Doug Prochilo
Producer: Christopher Morgan
Co-producer: Peter Sadowski
Co-executive producers: Malcolm Petal, Kimberly C. Anderson
Executive producer: Jill Tanner
Director of photography: Horacio Marquinez
Production design: Jim Gelarden
Editor: Micky Blythe
Music: Doug Cuomo
Maddy Rierdon: Lucy Lawless
Dan Dryer: Dylan Neal
Shelly: Brett Butler
Hank: Timothy Bottoms