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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Devil Bat [Blu-ray]

 

(Jean Yarbrough, 1940)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC)

Video: Kino Classics

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (B, C Unverified)

Runtime: 1:08:22.348

Disc Size: 21,052,512,570 bytes

Feature Size: 20,124,940,992 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.91 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 17th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Richard Harland Smith (film historian and TCM columnist)

• Image Gallery

White Zombie Trailer

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: After brilliant scientist Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi) develops an ingenious product for a cosmetics company, he is cheated out of his fair share of the profits by his greedy partners. Hell bent for revenge, he decides to turn his laboratory of science into one of doom as he creates a giant race of bats that turn into ripping and shredding beasts of fury, designed to attack anyone wearing the very product he invented. This classic horror film finally gets the beautiful HD remastering it deserves.

 

 

The Film:

This campy, entertaining cheapie from PRC Pictures features Bela Lugosi as a chemist who plots an elaborate revenge scheme on his business partners, whom he feels have cheated him out of his share. To this end he develops a mutant breed of vicious, oversized bats and trains several of this breed to home in on a special chemical which he then blends with shaving lotion. Presenting gifts of the lotion to his partners as a peace offering (and browbeating them into splashing it on themselves while in his presence), he subsequently unleashes his monstrous pets to tear them to pieces. Believe it or not, this was one of PRC's more successful horror programmers, spawning a the sequel Devil Bat's Daughter.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The Devil Bat was the first horror film made by the Producers Releasing Company, a low-budget indie, rebuilt from the failed Producers Distributing Corporation. And the mark of this lower-echelon Poverty Row studio is all over The Devil Bat. Testament to the film's lowly origins is the appearance of charismatic exploitation film actor Dave O'Brien as the slick reporter Layton. O'Brien's most famous screen performance is undoubtedly as the deranged "hophead" who murders and rapes under the influence of "reefer" in Louis Gasnier's 1936 anti-drug cult film Reefer Madness. The Devil Bat bears other marks of its cut-rate origins in its clearly limited budget for special effects (the resemblance of the Devil Bat to a furry kite propelled through the air is typical), some amateurish performances and - let's face it - a ludicrous storyline, though the original story's author George Bricker took great pains to argue the circumstances could happen. Despite such bargain basement flourishes, The Devil Bat has a sublimely weird ambiance and is unquestionably mesmerizing, due in large part to Lugosi's intensely creepy performance as a man driven to murder by his warped sense of wounded pride.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Devil Bat surfaces on Blu-ray from Kino.  The image quality shows plenty of speckles and it does not appear to have had any restoration beyond the transfer to 1080P.  This is only single-layered but compared to the weak public domain DVD or TV versions I've seen - it appears to be the best. It is thick but exports detail with the layered contrast.  Outside of the confines of Dr. Paul Carruthers laboratory things tend not top brighten extensively. There are a few visible vertical scratches but for those keen on the film I doubt any of the imperfections will deter appreciation of the hour-8-minute horror. the video does not look a exceptional but it supplies the best visual appearance we are likely to see.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. It has some light hiss inherent in the print and dialogue is as imperfect as you might imagine for a lower tier production of the era. Actually it sounds quite strong (Bela's cackling! and the first screeching sound of the Devil Bat itself) - perhaps sounding superior than the visual image. There are no subtitles.

 

Extras :

Kino include an audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith (and of Video Watchdog Magazine). He covers quite a lot of detail with a lot of his personal affection for the film after his first exposure to it in the early 70s. I like his pace and what he tends to focus on - positives more than flaws. There is also an Image Gallery and a trailer for White Zombie.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Devil Bat is cheesy in the way that I enjoy. It hints of Ed Wood but is more polished while still retaining its innocence carrying the limitations of its meager production. Vintage Bela as a mad scientist is always welcome and the shortish The Devil Bat makes for a great start to a horror double feature some sleepless Friday night. It will really get you in the mood for one of the Universal Classic Monster flics.  The Blu-ray provides the closest to theatrical as we are likely to get. If you can appreciate this genre and era - then this should please. 

Gary Tooze

August 31st, 2013

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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