Friday, April 30, 2010

The Good Daughter: The Devil Bat's Daughter

Perseverance pays off, ladies and gentlemen!  After a lot of waiting and pondering, I got the movie in the mail today and got it ready to review for you!    Was it worth the wait?  Was it worth the effort?  Before I answer that, let me give a little back-story for anyone who doesn't know the history of this.  In 1940, Bela Lugosi began his 'poverty row' career with a film called The Devil Bat.  It was a hit and, more importantly, cost very little money to make.  As such, a sequel was made...six years later.  Of course, there were some catches.  Since he died in the first movie- sorry to SPOIL a 70-year old film for you- he doesn't show up.  Mind you, dying in the previous film doesn't stop you from appearing in sequels- see Hell Up In Harlem, Bride of Re-Animator and Saw IV-VI.  This film has no major recurring cast members, in fact,, enjoy.  This is...
The film begins with a woman ending up in a doctor's care and acting strange.  She's having strange dreams and reactions to external stimuli.  As a freaky bonus, her point-of-view randomly becomes an out-of-focus camera lens.  My god, you're being Edited!  They call in a psychiatrist to help her out, but, being a '40s film, there has to be more to this.  The young woman is staying at a house owned by a woman who is the separated wife of the psychiatrist.  The man's new fiancee is not happy with this, but he does not relent.  He hypnotizes the young woman and tries to draw the truth from her.  All he can get out of her is that she came into town, went to her dad's house and found out that he was dead.  Did more happen than that?  Find out after this annoying and interrupting picture...
The man keeps treating her as the movie keeps cutting to a calendar changing dates.  Wow, time change editing has sure changed, the times.  That sure was awkward, huh?  Anyhow, all of his therapy and pills do not stop her dreams of killer bats.  Things only get worse as she seems to have killed a dog in her sleep!  Let's step away from that plot, however, for a sub-plot revolving around some romance.  Apparently, the woman whose house our heroine is staying in has a grown-up son.  Um, how?  She appears to be about 35 at most!  To make matters sillier, the son appears to be about 40!  What were these people smoking back in the '40s?  Oh right, reefer.  Within the short amount of time that the movie takes place in, the son falls in love with the woman.  When your movie is only 67 minutes long, you have to rush these things.  Speaking of rushing, the woman wakes up in the morning and finds herself at the bottom of the stairs.  Right across the room, the 'old' woman is dead.  Dun dun dun!
Naturally, the people all think that she is guilty because she is the daughter of Dr. Caruthers aka 'The Devil Bat.'  By the way, where is the family resemblance between her and Lugosi?  Our 'young' hero does not believe that she is guilty of murder and vows to find out the truth.  This leads him to seek out the mystery of the father's missing notes.  While in the house, he finds the rock that the psychologist has been playing with the whole movie.  It takes some tricky investigation techniques- including pretending to be drunk so that he can stay in the psychiatrist's apartment- to find out the truth, but he eventually.  He does this by talking down the fiancee and getting the papers.  Right at the hour mark, he confronts the man with the evidence and he talks a lot of it away.  With one last trick up his sleeve, he reveals that the drugs the woman took would have made it impossible for her to move, he suddenly pulls a gun and runs.  Yeah, he gets shot.  All of this wraps up nicely as the heroes get married and nobody died...except for those other people.
This movie is really not that good and I'll tell you why.  For one thing, the movie has almost no horror elements at all.  Are there giant bats in this movie?  No.  Okay, that's not completely true.  In the film, our heroine has nightmares about the bats, which are made up of footage from the previous film.  This gets a bit absurd as she actually has dreams about the bats attacking people.  Um, you weren't there for any of that, but okay.  The plot is annoyingly-straight-forward and features a super-small cast.  Who's the bad guy?  Gee, I wonder if it's the guy who looks like Jackie Earl Haley!  In defense of the movie, it is a different take on the story and is not simply a retread like many of the 'son/daughter/cousin of Frankenstein' films.  Of course, those films are entertaining for those reasons.  As a side note, I should talk about the DVD.  The version that Netflix carries is not at all restored and pops more than popcorn!  Oh and the DVD menu has the Chapter options on the front page with a little 'Feature Start' button hidden in the corner.  How did we live with these things again?
Up next, Instant Trash returns with a movie that one of my readers thought was fake.  It's real as hell and you can live in it's glory...glory on glory.  Stay tuned...

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