The Bat People (1974)

batpeopleAs part of their honeymoon, Dr. John Beck (Stewart Moss, Raise the Titanic) and Cathy (Marianne McAndrew, Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes) tour the Carlsbad Caverns. Itching for a quickie, Cathy breaks away from the group to look for a humping spot … and proceeds to tumble into a crevice full of creepy-crawlies. Being a he-man hubby, John leaps to her rescue, but in doing so is bitten by a bat.

You know what happens next, yet you will watch The Bat People regardless. (Directed by Airport ’77‘s Jerry Jameson, the film is known alternately as It Lives by Night.)

batpeople1Allow me to spell out the obvious: John starts turning into a man-bat. The first thing that something is awry is when his eyes roll back in his head before hitting the ski slopes, and he shakes violently. Thanks to the facial tic, it looks like an uncontrollable orgasm every time it happens … and it happens a lot across 91 minutes: at the hospital, in a hot tub, while fleeing the police — you name it. Eventually, hairy hands give way to a full transformation into the titular (but singular) creature, which looks less like a bat and more like a Planet of the Apes denizen confined to the short bus. Adding insult to injury is that the changed doc likes to slaughter people — you know, like real bats do.

Michael Pataki (Dracula’s Dog) co-stars as a perverted sheriff who’s on to Mr. Beck’s crime spree, but really just wants to get into Mrs. Beck’s silky britches. Interestingly, Moss and McAndrew were married in real life, and their union remains unbroken today; not even this AIP stinker could kill it. Actually, for all its chintziness, The Bat People sent one career soaring: that of Stan Winston, here (in his first feature) credited as “Stanley” and eventually the Oscar-winning effects artist of Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens and other movies that illustrate he clearly got better (as did the gigs). —Rod Lott

Get it at Amazon.

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