THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) Reviews and free to watch online in HD

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The Vampire Bat is a 1933 American horror film directed by Frank R. Strayer (Condemned to LiveThe Monster Walks; Murder at Midnight) from a screenplay written by Edward T. Lowe (House of Dracula; House of Frankenstein).

The movie stars Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray (King Kong), Melvyn Douglas (Ghost Story; The Tenant; The Old Dark House), and Dwight Frye.

Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill had been in the successful film Doctor X the previous year and had already wrapped shooting on Mystery of the Wax Museum for Warner Bros. This was quite a large-scale release and would have a lengthy post-production process. Seeing a chance to exploit all the advanced press, poverty row studio Majestic Pictures Inc. contracted Wray and Atwill for their own “quickie” horror film, rushing The Vampire Bat into production and releasing it in January 1933.

The film was shot on the Eastern European village set from Universal’s Frankenstein (1931) and the cave scene was filmed in Bronson Canyon, while some interiors were from The Old Dark House (1932).

On April 25, 2017, a special restored version of The Vampire Bat is released on Blu-ray by The Film Detective



Special Features:
– New Melvyn Douglas Featurette with his son, Gregory Hesselberg
– Audio Commentary by Film Historian Sam Sherman


When the villagers of Kleinschloss start dying of blood loss, the town fathers suspect a resurgence of vampirism.

While police inspector Karl Brettschneider (Douglas) remains sceptical, scientist Doctor von Niemann (Atwill) cares for the vampire’s victims one by one, and suspicion falls on simple-minded Herman Gleib because of his fondness for bats. A bloodthirsty angry mob hounds Gleib to his death, however, the vampire attacks continue…




” …The Vampire Bat is far better than you’re entitled to expect. It remains moody and atmospheric, and tries hard, if unsuccessfully, to give the plot a rational underpinning – plus it gives me an excuse to stare at Fay Wray for an hour or so, which can’t be a bad thing.” Horror News


The Vampire Bat is a fun trip, getting by on looking okay and playing with enough conventions to still seem sprightly, even with wooden direction and some lame comic relief. It serves as a fascinating mix of every genre trope that had emerged in both the silent era and the early sound years.” Danny,

“Like most of the early horror talkies, The Vampire Bat is exceedingly, well, talky, but Strayer does a good job of minimizing the damage caused thereby. He has a great eye for frame composition, he makes deft use of some unconventional transitional techniques between scenes, and most importantly, he keeps the camera moving, panning and zooming and winding busily around the set.”

hollywoods maddest doctors


“Quirky, odd, and different, The Vampire Bat is a horror film about vampires that take the concept to a whole different direction.” J. Luis Rivera, W-Cinema

“It offers numerous surprising or creepy sequences and images: the close-up of the dog, the chase through the torch-lit cave, the blood transfusion, the caped killer at the window. The defects include a lack of atmosphere and consistency…” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

“One of the best independent films churned out to meet the new vogue for horror (most of which were more darkish thrillers than pure horror).” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror



“Atwill and Dwight Frye act as though they believed everything in a cheap quickie that starts as a vampire movie and turns into yet another variation on the standard mad scientist plot.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

“Edward T. Lowe’s script and Frank R. Strayer’s direction are outdated but this is worth seeing for the cast…” John Stanley, Creature Features

“Dated low-budget horror comic with a few well-dash handled moments amongst the talk.” Howard Maxford, The A-Z of Horror Films


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Choice dialogue:
Burgomeister: “Vampires are at large, I tell you. Vampires!”
Doctor Otto von Niemann: “Mad! Is one who has solved the secret of life to be considered mad? Life! Created in a laboratory! … Living, growing tissue. Life! That moves, pulsates, and demands food for its continued growth! Ha!”




Cast and characters:
Lionel Atwill … Doctor Otto von Niemann
Fay Wray … Ruth Bertin
Melvyn Douglas … Karl Brettschneider
Maude Eburne … Aunt Gussie Schnappmann
George E. Stone … Kringen
Dwight Frye … Herman Gleib
Robert Frazer … Emil Borst
Rita Carlyle … Martha Mueller (as Rita Carlisle)
Lionel Belmore … Bürgermeister Gustave Schoen
William V. Mong … Sauer
Stella Adams … Georgiana
Harrison Greene … Weingarten

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