Bats (1999) — Bruce Wayne’s alternate origin story

“Don’t you see? They want me! Because I can control them – I made them that way… come to me!”

Justin’s rating: Wesley, why’d you have to die on the diner counter? That’s all sorts of unsanitary right there!

Justin’s review: Bats, the notoriously un-scary creature flick from the late ’90s, absolutely floored me with how abrupt it began. Most all of similar types of creature features that try to build up the threat of some sort of menace — killer rabbits, spiders, alpacas, what have you — take their time to slowly ease us into the ridiculousness of the on-screen events. Get in several teenager kills, maybe an old lady out for a Sunday stroll. Have just one guy desperately trying to convince everyone that they’re in mortal peril and being called a crazy person for it.

This movie? It opens with a headache-inducing bat attack and then, pow, instantly every single person in this Texas town AND the United States government are on board with the concept of killer bats swarming people like lil’ furry piranha. I have literally never seen a horror movie go from zero to “Yup we’ve got killer bats, time for the CDC to fly in some batologists!” this quickly. Such is the roguish nature of Bats.

Naturally, this event is an outbreak of laboratory bats that were bred by Shawshank Redemption’s warden (I know he has a name, but that’s how we’ll always think of him) to be flying buzzsaws that can infect other bats to be killers. You know, for science! “That’s what we do!” this crazy doctor says, “We make everything a little better!” A little better, in this context, is a future spread of killer bats over the ENTIRE COUNTRY. You thought COVID was bad? Bats lays out a scenario that no mask or social distancing can handle.

Joining Shawshank Ridiculous in fighting this unbelievable outbreak of viral hang-gliding mice is the country’s best and brightest: Sheriff Lou Diamond Phillips in his most “aw shucks, let me bite off a bit of this here cigar” form, Batologist Dina Meyer, comic relief assistant Leon, and a guy from the CDC who has the worst movie hair I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I think it was a dead ferret.

Try as it might, Bats can’t even come close to being a scary or compelling horror movie. It simply has no ammunition here with a PG-13 rating, a 90-minute runtime, no way to realistically pull off a bat attack, slanty BatVision, and absolutely terrible puppets on hand. It’s just an exercise in silliness that none of these decent actors should’ve been involved with in the first place. I feel particularly bad for Phillips, who ended the decade by starring in this dud. He didn’t get to headline a lot of movies, and he’s just wasted here.

Didja notice?

  • This is one headache-inducing bat attack. Guess bats can explode windows somehow?
  • CDC likes to send helicopters with vague messengers shouting exposition over the blades
  • “Bats, Doctor Casper, bats!”
  • This movie LOVES having its characters say “bats” bats bats bats bats
  • A bat assistant who is scared of bats?
  • Hey, it’s the warden from Shawshank Prison!
  • Bats can chew through bones, apparently
  • CDC guy has the worst hair
  • Her bat origin story!
  • Stupid bat swarm, ruining a bit of pre-date flirting
  • Maybe don’t drive if you’re being swarmed by bats?
  • “They’re flying into the engine!” is a thing this movie said
  • Bats can rock entire trucks. That’s just what they do.
  • AHAHAHA the face of the mutated bat
  • This diner operates with the lights off?
  • Tell me that this slanty camera angle isn’t BatVision. IT IS.
  • The whole town gets absolutely wrecked at the 30 minute mark.
  • My deputy just died on a deli counter! Welp,, time to put his hat over his face and walk away from the corpse!
  • Aww CDC guy got it too
  • They threaten to bring in the military to bomb all of these caverns. I really wish we got to see that movie.
  • Oh yay, Leon is going to stay. I know you were on the edge of your seats.

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