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The Bat Special Edition - When It Flies Someone Dies! Has Vincent Price All Over It

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Horror films come in various shapes and forms. Sure the most obvious are those with a horrible monster who might look stupid today because there was no budget to make the guy in the suit look good (no CGI remember?), but lighting and careful directing and pacing could make up for it mightily. Less obvious were horror films where it was humans who were the “monsters” in more of how they behaved and what they did — one could call Sweeney Todd a monster even though he didn’t have multiple arms or sport a giant squid-like head. So a horror film involving humans that were not exactly right in the head and certainly didn’t behave as they should in polite society could make for an ugly time for them, but a good time if scary for the audience. And one of the purveyors of scaring the audience without having to wear prosthetics or sport non-human attributes was Vincent Price in The Bat Special Edition.

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Now Vincent Price was never known for just his looks, because his iconic voice could bring the terror with just low tones and simple words — he never needed to scream or shout (though he did go insane in many films…). What we would call today an old school actor, his career spanned decades, although he was too young for the very, very early days of horror films and so came into his own more in the later stages of horror — the 50’s for example. Black and white of course adds to the mood overall, although color now appeared to make scenes even more lurid (and as we’ll note in a bit, more of a problem). So as black and white continues to rule, in The Bat Special Edition, when the heading says “When It Flies, Someone Dies!” there’s no joke involved or camp either

The Bat is from 1959 and can be considered a period piece in that it’s filled with actors who know how to play a horror movie without a massive budget and where it’s just as much about creating a mood in how one reacts to what is going on around them — not just reacting to horrific sights and events, but also to minor moments. The cast includes solid actors who may be playing weirdos (love that term and comes from the back of the film’s packaging so credit where due…) who know their craft and don’t strive for acting over the top, with examples being Agnes Moorhead (don’t compare her acting in the TV show Bewitched to what she does here) along with others and a bit of trivia in that Darla Hood, the original girl from the Our Gang comedies, makes an appearance (her last, btw).

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Being what we would now call a “modern” movie, in that it’s not the old style square movie frame but in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the black and white enhances the look because for one thing it doesn’t over emphasize the scenery over the actors. Let’s face it, black and white films are imbued with a form of timeliness that makes watching them more immersive than color. Especially the lurid color that encroached into horror movies in the 1960’s to turn everything into more of a joke than not (think Dr. Phibes with Vincent Price as an example of that, although it’s still one of this reviewer’s favorites but for reasons we’ll not go into now). Being Blu-ray means the quality of the black and white’s resolution is much improved over seeing said film not in the theaters but on DVD which would have been junk. But not here.

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So what about special features, extras, that kind of thing? Being Blu-ray there’s plenty of space so there had better be something cool added. And there is. First you get a feature length commentary and companion essay from a professor/film scholar, a featurette from Ballyhoo motion pictures n the director and screenwriter of this film and something even more cool and unusual to find on a movie disc — nine archival radio episodes featuring the iconic voice of Vincent Price

The Bat Special Edition has a lot of “bite” to it, and the dts audio makes hearing the dialogue no problem at all. And let’s face it, with a Vincent Price film you want to be able to hear his every word crisply and without hiss or distortions. So to find out more check out the Film Detective’s website.

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