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Attack of the Bat Monsters - FrightFest Review
By James Whittington, Saturday 3rd March 2018
For a movie that's had a longer gestation period than any project I've known of, Attack of the Bat Monsters looks as if it could have been made yesterday, or the 1950s where its set! More on this later, here's what the film is about:
The movie follows schlock impresario Francis Gordon as he and his intrepid crew attempt to shoot an impromptu monster movie in the three days left over from the film they've just wrapped. This is the 1950s Z-Grade movie industry as its never been seen before.
From the Saul Bass opening title homage (which is worth seeing by itself) the movie perfectly encapsulates the era of post-World War II guerrilla film-making. Attack of the Bat Monsters has been ready since 1999 but varying circumstances have seen it shelved until now. Restorer Mark Rance (who brought Tobe Hooper's psychedelic Eggshells vividly to the big screen during FrightFest 2010) under writer/director Kelly Greene's supervision has helped bring it to life and it does look very nice too.
The script sizzles with references to this age of movie making and feels like a fly-on-the-wall to the Corman years of churning pictures out. The cast play slight caricatures of the era such as the pushy and manipulative director, the desperate artist, the aged thespian and watching this you can see who the film is talking about. The way it reflects practices of the time is made with good humour but towards the end, when the director and writer try and get, shall we say, a European version of certain scenes with the female lead. Its an uneasy moment, designed to emphasise the pressure actors were under and is perfectly executed.
Kelly directs with confidence, littering scenes with pathos and heart and the way it jumps from in front to behind the camera adds to the experience, feeling like you are watching a team of people trying to complete something that's almost impossible.
A very original and incredibly entertaining piece that reflects a time that we'll never see again. It is going to be interesting to see what Kelly delivers next, let's just hope its not such a long wait this time.
Related show tags: 4 STARS, ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS MORE FRIGHTFEST Everything you ever wanted to know about FrightFest... but were afraid to ask!
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