Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Devil Bat (Blu-ray Review) - Kino

Directed By: Jean Yarbrough
Written By: John T. Neville, George Bricker
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O' Brien
Color/68 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Bela Lugosi stars as Paul Carruthers, a mad scientist of sort who has vowed revenge on his fellow businessmen as he feels they've denied him an equal share in their success and riches. Carruthers plans his revenge by using a giving a special fragrance to his potential victims that will attract his mutant killer bat. 

A simple plot leads to an entertaining film with Lugosi carrying the film and nailing his role. This wasn't a Universal production like Dracula and it is evident that the same production budget wasn't there but that doesn't mean this movie looks cheap. The sets are very well dressed, including a mini Frankenstein lab. THE DEVIL BAT includes a heavy dose of humor and ends up being a very underrated black comedy horror film that deserves better than the budget bin, public domain releases it has suffered through for decades. It finally has the release it deserves. All classic horror fans should check this one out. 

The Audio & Video
Kino Lorber presents THE DEVIL BAT in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame with a transfer that is pretty damn impressive for a low budget horror film that is 70+ years old. The overall quality of the materials used were in great condition with just a bit of white speckling throughout. The image is strong with deep black levels and much improved details over the public domain releases fans of the film have become accustomed to. On the audio side of things, the 2.0 Mono mix is just as strong as the video, with dialogue coming through loud and clear. Background noise is at a minimum and the soundtrack level is mixed beauituflly as to not compete with dialogue. A superb job by Kino.

The Extras
The main feature on this disc is an audio commentary track from film historian and Video Watchdog contributor Richard Harland Smith who gives a lively and loving commentary to a film that he's been interested in since he was 10 years old. There is plenty of interesting information here and is a highly enjoyable listen. Other features are a still gallery and a trailer for Lugosi's earlier film White Zombie.

The Bottom Line
While a bit light on the extras, this classic horror film gets a transfer that rivals the Universal horror films (something that can't be said about the production budget!). This disc is without a doubt the best the film has looked in at least one generation and likely the best it'll ever look until someone invents a time machine to go back to 1940. A great release that will get the approval of classic horror fans.

THE DEVIL BAT is available HERE

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