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Vampire Bats Review

After eliminating Locusts, Dr. Maddy Rierdon is on the trail of a deadly new predator—and this one has fangs

* Vampire Bats
* Starring Lucy Lawless, Dylan Neal and Brett Butler
* Written by Doug Prochilo
* Directed by Eric Bross
* Premieres Sunday, Oct. 30, at 9 a.m. ET/PT

By Kathie Huddleston


After their adventures in the CBS movie Locusts, professor Maddy Rierdon (Lawless) and her husband, Dan Dryer (Neal), attempt to get their bearings after moving to Louisiana with their two daughters in search of a simpler life. However, Maddy isn't happy at all at their temporary living arrangements in a rental, while renovations on their house are being completed, or at having to take Dan's pushy sister, Shelly (Butler), up on her offer of babysitting.
Our Pick: C+

When a student at the college that Maddy and Dave teach at is found dead and drained of blood, the police suspect two of Maddy's students were involved. As the students are dragged off for questioning, Maddy pushes her way into the investigation and discovers that the boy's body suffered animal bites.

When two fisherman are found dead and bat droppings are found on the bodies, Maddy begins to suspect what might be happening. However, the professor doesn't believe the deaths could be caused by normal bats or even normal vampire bats. Despite Maddy and the coroner's warnings, the mayor (Timothy Bottoms) refuses to put out a warning to the public.

The police finally release Maddy's students, and her class joins the determined professor as she tries to capture some of the bats. As the attacks continue, Maddy, Dave and her students attempt to discover the cause of the change in the bats, while Shelly pins down an old schoolmate, believing he might have something to do with it all. Unfortunately for our heroes, the bats aren't the only predator around. There's someone with a secret, and it's a secret that someone is willing to kill to keep.

Popcorn, bats and shlock

Shlocky horror movies have done well on the major networks lately, partially because they realize something SCI FI has known all along. Bad horror movies are cheap to make, and they're fun to watch. Vampire Bats does spend a little more time on its characters than the average bad television horror flick, but not much more. However, what it doesn't do is go far enough over the top to make it a good popcorn flick.

When you watch this kind of movie, you want the victims to deserve their fate, but a cast that's just too large insures we don't really know any of these people very well, despite a few good moments from some of the characters. None of the college kids are distinctive enough to stand out, and even Dylan Neal as Maddy's husband fades into the background. Still, Lucy Lawless, Brett Butler and Timothy Bottoms do manage to help breathe some life into Vampire Bats, and they help elevate it slightly above average.

As for the script, it's sad when the drug-addled are the primary victims, mainly because they aren't aware enough to run away. The Vampire Bat victims have four or five bites, and the bats are small and don't look like they could suck down much blood at all. It would have helped if the bats were bigger and scarier-looking. Then we wouldn't be bothering with logic, a process that shouldn't even cross your mind during a flick called Vampire Bats.

And please, can we have a moratorium on the town council or mayor who refuses to put out a warning for no good reason at all other than it will add some conflict to the script? No one's done that well since Jaws in 1975, and yet we see it over and over and over and over again. Screenwriters of the world ... stop it! The secret of what made the bats batty may not be anything new either, but at least that done-to-death revelation doesn't make me want to throw a brick through my television set.

While Bottom's Mayor Poelker does redeem himself later in the flick, movie mayors need to start putting out the darn warning. People won't heed it anyway, so monsters will still get a chance to attack. If people acted smart and the monsters still ate them ... now, that would be a story worthy of a title like Vampire Bats.

There are a couple of moments and performances that lift this flick above the rest. Unfortunately, not much else does. Still, if you like bad television movies and don't mind the lack of inspiration, Vampire Bats might be just what the coroner ordered for a Sunday night on the eve of Halloween. —Kathie