Who’s in it?: Lionel Atwill (Mark of the Vampire, Captain Blood, Son of Frankenstein); Fay Wray (King Kong); Melvyn Douglas (Hud); Dwight Frye (Dracula)
What’s it about?: Mysterious deaths lead the inhabitants of a small village to suspect a vampire is in their midst.
How is it?: Early in Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, there’s some doubt about whether a vampire is actually responsible for all the deaths that are occurring. Van Helsing says so, but not everyone is convinced. It’s an interesting situation that gets resolved more quickly than I want, so I’m glad that it’s the entire focus of The Vampire Bat. Karl Brettschneider (Douglas) is the inspector in charge of solving the murders and he insists that vampires don’t exist. The rest of the town disagrees though and suspects the mentally disabled Herman (Frye) who enjoys playing with bats and has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t deviate from the standard tropes of its genre, so anyone familiar with B-movie horror featuring murders and a beloved local scientist (Atwill) will know what’s going on before the opening credits are done. Even so, there are a couple of surprising twists that keep the movie from being too predictable. Also, Maude Eburne livens the mood as the humorously hypochondriacal aunt of the scientist’s assistant (Wray).