Monday, October 31, 2022

The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon – Final Recap


The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon

As George Harrison once wrote, all things must pass, and so it goes with the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon. On behalf of Gill Jabob from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Yours Truly, we’d like to give a hearty thanks to everyone who took part, as well as our dear readers!

Donald Pleasence - The Flesh and the Fiends

I’d also like to thank Gill for suggesting this blogathon topic. It’s wonderful to see Mr. Pleasence receive his due, and I believe the blog posts did just that, covering a wide range of film and television roles (Plus a recipe!). Today’s final four offerings are no exception. I’m woefully behind, but look forward to reading and commenting on everyone’s posts in the next few days.

Donald Pleasence - The Mutations

On a slightly different note, I’m reminding everyone to stay tuned for announcements in 2023, with two more blogathons in the pipeline. Trust me, you won’t want to miss ‘em. Until then, happy Halloween!


Be sure to visit the recaps from days One, Two and Three:


Day 1  

Day 2  

Day 3 


Now, onto the submissions:

Prince of Darkness Poster

Eric Binford from Diary of a Movie Maniac shines a light on Prince of Darkness (1987).


The Devil Within Her Poster

Amber from Camp and Circumstance proves it’s what’s inside that counts in her review of The Devil Within Her (aka: I Don’t Want to Be Born) (1975).

Hell is a City Poster

Erica from Poppity Talks Classic film shows us that Hell is a City (1960).


The Corsican Brothers Poster

Sally Silverscreen from 18 Cinema Lane spends some quality time with The Corsican Brothers (1985).



Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon – Day 3 Recap

The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon

Where did the weekend go? We’ve already reached Day 3 of the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon, hosted by Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Yours Truly! Tonight, we present a quartet of posts for your enjoyment.

Donald Pleasence - The Great Escape

Note: There will be a post-blogathon wrap-up tomorrow, where I’ll list any late entries (and maybe a brief announcement or two). If you still plan to join, enter a comment below, email me at, or reach me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge).

Donald Pleasence - Wake in Fright


Be sure to visit the recaps from days One and Two:



Here are Day 3’s submissions:

The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water

Scampy from The Spirochaete Trail reviews The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water (1973).

Journey Into Fear Poster

Don’t be afraid to read Peter Fuller’s (from Vincent Price Legacy UK) post on Journey Into Fear (1975). 

The Devonsville Terror Poster

Are you frightened yet? Andrew Stephen from Maniacs and Monsters wants to tell you about The Devonsville Terror (1983). 

Circus of Horrors

And finally, I’d like to draw your attention to the center ring, where Yours Truly from Cinematic Catharsis is about to perform a death-defying review of Circus of Horrors (1960). 


Circus of Horrors


Circus of Horrors Poster

(1960) Directed by Sidney Hayers; Written by George Baxt; Starring: Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, Donald Pleasence, Jane Hylton, Kenneth Griffith and Yvonne Romain; Available on Blu-ray and DVD. 

Rating: ***½ 

This post is part of the Devilishly Delightful DonaldPleasence Blogathon, hosted by Gill Jacob from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Yours Truly. Be sure to check out all the terrific posts, covering a wide range of films/TV appearances from his expansive career.

Schuler, Nicole, and Angela

Martin (Kenneth Griffith): “Thieves, murderers?”

Dr. Rossiter/Schüler (Anton Diffring): “Yes. Well, don’t you see? These are the people who will constitute our circus troupe. I change their faces, minimize the police apprehension. Willing subjects for my anxious hands. We hold their safety and they hold their tongue. It’s the ideal front.”

What is it about the circus that makes it such a fertile ground for tales of horror and suspense? Look no further than Tod Browning’s forays into the big top and sideshows (The Show, The Unknown, Freaks), which exploit the more lurid aspects of that colorful milieu. If nothing else, the movies have taught us that the circus is a haven for shady individuals with questionable histories and motives, on the run from the law. Director Sidney Hayers and writer George Baxt’s depiction of a circus from hell is considered the second title in a rough trilogy of films from Anglo-Amalgamated,* starting with Horrors of the Black Museum (1959) and ending with Peeping Tom (1960).  Filmed in England, Circus of Horrors incorporated footage of a real, working performance troupe, Billy Smart’s Circus.** 

* Fun Fact #1: Circus of Horrors could easily be confused for a Hammer Films production, considering the fact that Anton Diffring, Yvonne Monlaur, and Yvonne Romain all appeared in movies from Anglo-Amalgamated’s competitor. 

** Fun Fact #2: Note the circus banners emblazoned with “BS” (No, not that kind of BS) for Billy Smart, which conveniently stand in for Bernard Schüler’s circus.

Martin, Angela, and Rossiter/Schuler

The story begins in 1947, with Dr. Rossiter fleeing the UK after a botched attempt at plastic surgery. Along with his accomplices, surgeon Angela and her brother Martin (Jane Hylton and Kenneth Griffith), he makes his way to the French countryside, where he adopts the name Bernard Schüler. He encounters Vanet, a down-on-his-luck circus owner circus, played by Donald Pleasence (in a small but pivotal role). Vanet’s daughter Nicole’s (Carla Challoner) face is scarred from a wartime schoolyard bombing (“There are many like me now.”), which Schüler promises to restore, for a price. After Vanet’s “accidental” death, Schüler takes on the role of Nicole’s uncle, while vowing to turn the threadbare circus into something noteworthy (“It’ll be the ideal front.”). In a move that would make any self-respecting human resources professional cringe, he combs the seedy underbelly of various European towns, searching for women with shady backgrounds and facial flaws. Once they’re a part of the circus, he fixes their appearance, and keeps detailed dossiers on them, so they won’t blab to the authorities. Any attempts to defy Schüler by leaving result in their immediate peril. Flash-forward a decade, and Schüler’s circus is a big success despite a series of questionable incidents (It comes to be known as the “Jinx Circus.” A Berlin police inspector (Peter Swanwick)* is wise to Schüler’s subterfuge, but without proof of any foul play, he’s forced to let him go. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from tipping off the British authorities, including Scotland Yard inspector Arthur Ames (Conrad Phillips), posing as a reporter. 

* Fun Fact #3: If the “German” police inspector looks familiar, it’s no coincidence. The British actor is probably best known for his role as the inscrutable Supervisor in the landmark television series, The Prisoner (1967).


Pleasence, sporting an attempted French accent (and hair!), makes an impression as the depressive alcoholic Vanet. The only thing of value he has left is his beloved daughter, Nicole (“The war has left nothing but ruin and poverty”). He unwisely promises Rossiter/Schüler “anything and everything” if he will repair his daughter’s face. Although the operation is a success, it proves to be a Faustian bargain. In an alcohol-fueled moment of poor judgment, he antagonizes Bosco the dancing bear, getting too close to the enraged animal (okay, a guy in a not-very-convincing bear suit). The ensuing attack sequence looks more like a bear rug was draped over him, but it’s a testament to Pleasence’s skill and professionalism that he convincingly sells his violent death. The one person who doesn’t suspect any wrongdoing is the adult Nicole (Yvonne Monlaur), who only thinks of Schüler as her uncle.

Schüler discovers Elissa

Diffring paints a portrait of the perfect egomaniac, shamelessly manipulative, amoral and vain. He wields a riding crop that he inflicts on animals and humans alike, to submit them to his will. Much like Dr. Frankenstein,* he believes the means justify the ends. The performers he helps are nothing more than raw material for practicing his craft. Of all the people he manipulates, none are as pitiable as Angela, his assisting surgeon, who carries an unrequited torch for him. Schüler uses her love for him as leverage, stringing her along with declarations such as, “You are very necessary to me” (Not exactly a declaration of affection). To him, she’s little more than another surgical instrument that can help him attain his goal. He hopes to re-emerge from hiding to boast about his revolutionary medical discoveries (“I have unlocked the secrets of plastic surgery that will stagger the world.”). In the meantime, however, he has a circus to run, and doesn’t appreciate dissent or attrition among the ranks. He sits back and lets someone else do the dirty work (usually Angela’s brother Martin). Schüler is a character you love to hate – never for a moment do you want to see him get away with murder. Despite his abhorrent nature, one thing that keeps him from being a two-dimensional villain is that he genuinely cares for Nicole, while attempting to shelter her from his evil actions.   

* Fun Fact #4: Diffring starred as Baron Frankenstein in the failed 1958 Hammer TV pilot Tales of Frankenstein.

A Knife Act Gone Bad

Circus of Horrors keeps its audience on edge throughout with a series of bloody events orchestrated by the sociopathic main character.* Considering that World War II and its associated horrors had only ended 15 years before the movie debuted, the atrocities of Nazi* surgeons such as Mengele would have been embedded in the public’s consciousness. Everything about the film is slightly off-kilter, adding to the viewer’s unease. The inclusion of the song, “Look for a Star”** is more disconcerting than soothing (Like it? Great. Don’t like it? Too bad. It’s featured in the movie five times). Similarly, the troupe of clowns*** emerge as a mute Greek chorus, underscoring Sculer’s misdeeds. 

* Not-So-Fun Fact: Although frequently typecast as a Nazi (and Nazi-like characters) in numerous productions, Anton Diffring’s film roles couldn’t be further from the truth. Diffring had fled Nazi Germany to avoid persecution because he was gay and his father was Jewish. 

** Fun Fact #5: The hit song was written by Mark Anthony, a pseudonym for Tony Hatch, probably best known today for penning the Petula Clark song, “Downtown.” 

*** Fun Fact #6: Watch for Kenny (“R2D2”) Baker in an uncredited appearance, as one of the clowns.

Schüler's First Patient

One of the plot conveniences is that characters who are otherwise so street smart foolishly telegraph their intentions to leave (Why don’t they just sneak out in the middle of the night?) or blackmail the doctor. After his top star Magda (Vanda Hudson) dies in a knife act gone awry, with a little help from Schüler’s toady, Martin, high wire performer Elissa (Erika Remberg) insists that she have top billing in the show (Three guesses about how well that goes, and the first two don’t count). Also, considering the reputation of the “Jinx Circus,” it stretches believability why anyone would want to join in the first place (free plastic surgery or not). While perhaps a notch below in quality compared to some of its more notable contemporaries (Psycho, Peeping Tom, and Eyes Without a Face), Circus of Horrors is unabashedly ghoulish fun.


Sources for this article: “Back to the Circus: An Interview with Kim Newman” (2020), “Interview with Broadcaster Stuart Maconie” (2020).

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon – Day 2 Recap


The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon

We’re back for Day Two of the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon, hosted by Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Yours Truly! Please enjoy today’s posts, covering some film and television titles that might have slipped beneath the radar.

Donald Pleasence - From Beyond the Grave

It’s not too late to join. If you plan to post tomorrow, or you’ve been delayed, enter a comment below, email me at, or reach me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge).

Donald Pleasence - Prince of Darkness

Check out Day 2’s stellar submissions below, and don’t forget to read all the amazing posts from Day 1. See you tomorrow for Day 3!

Manuela Poster

Lê from Critica Retro sets sail on her review of Manuela (aka: Stowaway Girl) (1957). 

Kidnapped Poster

You’ll be captivated by Rachel’s (from Hamelette's Soliloquy) take on Kidnapped (1971). 


The Uncanny Poster

Eddie Harrison from Film Authority invites us to experience The Uncanny (1977). 

The Barchester Chronicles Poster

Debbie Vega from Moon in Gemini examines the miniseries The Barchester Chronicles (1982). 

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon Is Here – Day 1 Recap


The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon

Welcome to Day One of the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon! My superb co-host Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews and Yours Truly are proud to present this three-day event, celebrating versatile, enigmatic character actor Donald Pleasence. We have a bumper crop of posts for your perusal, featuring select film and television reviews (and even a recipe!).  

Donald Pleasence - Alone in the Dark

If you’ve signed up, but your post isn’t quite ready for prime time, don’t panic. We’ll post your link on Day Two or Three (and a little bird told me there could be a bonus fourth day as well). Latecomers are also welcome (as my cohort mentioned in her post, the Halloween movies still haven’t been claimed). Post a comment below, email me at, or reach me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge).

Escape from New York

Here are Day 1’s submissions below, and remember to tune in Saturday and Sunday for recaps of Days Two and Three!


Cul-de-Sac Poster

Greg Wilcox from Destroy All Fanboys! invites us to take a ride down to the the Cul-de-Sac (1966). 


The Adventures of Robin Hood

Join Terence Towles Canote from A Shroud of Thoughts as he looks at Mr. Pleasence’s role on TV’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (1956-1958). 


Dracula 1979 Poster

Andrew Wickliffe from The Stop Button sinks his fangs into Dracula (1979).  

The Dark Secret of Harvest Home

Listen. Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell (with profound apologies to Lennon & McCartney)? Angelman tells all in his review of The DarkSecret of Harvest Home (1978). 

Columbo - Any Old Port in a Storm

Hey good lookin’, find out what’s cookin’ with Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers as she serves a heaping helping of Donald Pleasence's "No-Name Curry," along with a look at his appearance in the Columbo episode, “Any Old Port in a Storm” (1973). 


Twilight Zone - Changing of the Guard

With a little help from Rod Serling, Mitchell Hadley from It’s About TV takes you on a journey to a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, a look at the Twilight Zone episode “Changing of the Guard.” (1962) 

Alone in the Dark Poster

Brian Schuck from Films Beyond the Time Barrier will keep you company with his review of Alone in the Dark (1982). 

The Flesh and the Fiends Poster

It would be truly fiendish if you missed Michael Denney’s (from Maniacs and Monsters) review of The Flesh and the Fiends (1962). 


Telefon Poster

Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews answers the call to write about Telefon (1977).


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Horror Month Quick Picks and Pans

We Are the Night Poster

We Are the Night (2010) Lena (Karoline Herfurth), a small-time thief with a troubled past, finds a strange kinship among a group of vampires. She initially enjoys her new-found freedom as an immortal being, but soon discovers the terrible price that comes along with her transformation. Things get especially complicated when a cop (Max Riemelt) takes an interest in her affairs. Director/co-writer Dennis Gansel keeps things moving with kinetic action scenes on the streets of Berlin, but knows when to slow things down for moments of introspection. At its core, We Are the Night is about belonging and unconditional love, wherever that love might spring from. 

Rating: ****. Available on DVD

The Eyes of My Mother Poster 

The Eyes of My Mother (2016) After witnessing the grisly murder of her mother by a deranged drifter, Francisca begins a gradual descent into madness. As she grows up, she becomes increasingly isolated from society, while attempting to create her version of “family.” Filmed in glorious black and white, The Eyes of My Mother is short on plot, but long on a pervasive sense of gloom. Part Repulsion, part Psycho, writer/director Nicolas Pesce’s debut feature is a perversely fascinating character study. Kika Magalhães is excellent as the adult Francisca, somehow managing to convey vulnerability and menace simultaneously. It’s well worth seeking out, if you have a stomach for its unique brand of grotesquerie. 

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Kanopy

La Llorona Poster

La Llorona (1933) One of numerous titles dedicated to the legendary wailing spirit, Ramón Peón’s film has the distinction of being one of the first Mexican sound horror movies. In a flashback sequence, set in Mexico’s colonial past, an indigenous woman kills herself and her child, rather than have the child’s father (a Spanish nobleman) take custody of him. It’s not particularly terrifying for modern audiences, but a milestone nonetheless, setting the template for countless horror films released. And the vision of La Llorona’s ghostly figure rising into in the night sky is suitably eerie.   

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray


Alone in the Dark Poster

Alone in the Dark (1982) Dr. Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz) is enthusiastic about starting work at a new psychiatric hospital, but some of the residents aren’t too keen on the fact that he replaced their favorite psychiatrist. Believing that he murdered his predecessor, they conspire to kill him and his family. Director/co-writer Jack Sholder’s (The Hidden) movie features some ridiculously over-the-top performances by Donald Pleasence as the hospital’s touchy-feely director, a delusional colonel (Jack Palance), and a maniacal preacher (Martin Landau). Add an appearance by NYC punk band The Sick F*cks, and you’ve got your night’s entertainment sorted out. It’s full of plot holes and logical inconsistencies, and doesn’t make a lick of sense most of the time, but who cares when you’re having so much fun? 

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Cold Skin Poster

Cold Skin (2017) A young researcher (David Oakes) hitches a ride on a steamer (circa 1914) to research wind patterns on a remote Antarctic island. He forms a reluctant alliance with an eccentric lighthouse keeper (Ray Stevenson) when he discovers they’re under constant attack by a colony of amphibious hominids. But everything isn’t as it seems when he realizes the creatures aren’t monsters, but an intelligent species with their own unique culture. Cold Skin is a refreshing spin on the monster siege film, asking us to consider humanity’s long, sordid history of colonization and genocide.   

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Knocking Poster 

Knocking (2021) Upon her release from a Swedish psychiatric hospital, Molly (Cecilia Milocco) attempts to settle into life in a new apartment. Her peace proves to be short-lived, as she hears a persistent knocking sound from upstairs. Her attempts to localize the source results in friction between Molly and her puzzled neighbors and disbelieving authorities. To everyone but her, it soon becomes clear that her perceptions might not be accurate. Director Frida Kempff presents a baffling, sometimes frustrating viewing experience that keeps you guessing throughout. By the film’s conclusion, it’s still unclear whether the strange goings on are all in her head or reality. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Kanopy and Shudder

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things Poster 

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971) Writer/director Thomas Casey’s LGBTQ+ slasher stars Abe Zwick and Wayne Crawford as Paul and Stanley, two fugitives on the run from the cops, after a murder in Baltimore. They hole up in suburban Miami, but neither one does a great job of keeping a low profile. Stanley drives around in a flashy van, while Paul disguises himself as Stanley’s “Aunt Martha.” When Stanley begins taking an interest in some of the neighborhood women, Paul/Martha lapses into moments of jealous, homicidal rage, and bodies start piling up. While I’d hesitate to call this a “landmark” film, it's refreshing to see a genre film from a different perspective.  

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

The Strangeness Poster

The Strangeness (1985) A group of surveyors explore an old abandoned California mine for its potential to yield gold. While they peruse its inky depths, something deadly lurks in the shadows. The vaguely yonic stop-motion creature (dripping acid from its orifice) is barely seen. Expect many shots of the characters bumbling around in the mine and bickering over who’s the leader. Meanwhile, they foolishly separate so they can be picked off one-by-one. It’s not bad for a movie that allegedly cost $25,000 to make, but it’s not good either. 

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray, DVD (Out of print) and Amazon Prime

Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Devil Bat


(1940) Directed by: Jean Yarbrough; Written by John T. Neville; Story by George Bricker; Starring: Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O’Brien, Donald Kerr, Yolande Mallott (Donlan) and Guy Usher; Available on Blu-ray and DVD. 

Rating: ***

Note: This review is an expanded version of a capsule review from October 2015. 

Dr. Carruthers in His Secret Lab

“Formula. That’s but child’s play for a great scientist. Your brain is too feeble to conceive what I accomplished in the realm of science.” – Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi)

After a career high point with Dracula (1931), Bela Lugosi experienced a slow career decline, migrating from Universal to third-tier, so-called “Poverty Row” studios (including Monogram and PRC). But that doesn’t mean he didn’t appear in some notable features along the way. Lugosi portrayed more than a few mad scientists throughout his filmography, ranging from serious (The Raven) to bordering on self-parody (Bride of the Monster). He found the sweet spot, however, as the curiously named Paul Carruthers in PRC’s The Devil Bat.

Dr. Carruthers Admiring His Killer Bat

Dr. Carruthers lives a second life that he conceals from prying eyes. Adjacent to his formal lab is a secret lab, sequestered behind a panel, where the real work takes place (which in turn leads to a dungeon-like enclosure, housing his specially bred bats). He concocts an elaborate scheme for exacting revenge against business partners Henry Morton (Guy Usher) and Martin Heath (Edward Mortimer) along with their progeny, involving said bats and a special aftershave. Being a gifted chemist, you think he’d cut out the middleman with the bats, and create some kind of fast-acting, albeit undetectable poison. Then again, where’s the fun in that? After convincing his intended victims to wear his killer bat-attracting concoction, he sits back and enjoys the handiwork of the murderous flying mammals, as they swoop down on their unsuspecting prey, tearing out the victims’ aftershave-slathered throats.

Joe McGinty, Johnny Layton, and "One-Shot" McGuire

Enter go-getting Chicago Register* reporter Johnny Layton (Dave O’Brien) and his overly enthusiastic (Okay, how about obnoxious?) photographer, “One-Shot” McGuire (Donald Kerr). When he’s not snapping pics, he’s harassing the Heath’s French maid, Maxine (Yolande Donlan),** who somehow falls for him anyway (apparently in 1940,  you didn’t need charisma to woo the ladies, just a load of chutzpah). Layton also likes to mix his business with pleasure. Although he’s determined to get the scoop on the murders, he’s never too busy to sweet talk rich heiress Mary Heath (Suzanne Kaaren).*** 

* Fun Fact #1: Johnny’s boss, chief editor Joe McGinty, played by Arthur Q. Bryan, was known primarily for his voice talent. He was probably best known for providing the original voice for Elmer Fudd in the Warner Brothers cartoons. 

** Fun Fact #2: After winning a beauty contest, she wasn’t terribly keen on doing the movie. Per an interview, Donlan commented, “…I wasn’t even interested in it then! I wasn’t interested in being in a picture of that kind at the time.” 

*** Not-So-Fun Fact: Besides being an actress, co-star Kaaren was also an inventor. One of her most notable inventions was a pop-top can, which was appropriated by the Continental Can Company for a whopping $1.20.

Dr. Carruthers and His Next Victim

Lugosi is obviously having a blast with his role as the duplicitous Dr. Carruthers. Considering his tumultuous career, typified by grossly underpaid roles, relative to his co-stars, I can’t help but think his performance was at least semi-autobiographical. It must have been cathartic to channel his frustrations about those he believed had wronged him over the years. One of the film’s conceits is that Carruthers is such a genteel, kindly individual, no one would ever suspect him of any skullduggery (despite the fact that he has a clear motive for the murders). All the while, Lugosi seems to be winking at the audience with lines like: “I don’t think you’ll use anything else,” and “I want to try it out on several people first, and see if it works” (Mwah, ha, ha!).  

Dr. Carruthers' Secret Lab

Carruthers’ fuzzy science is never explained. Instead, we take it on face value that he can create giant bats simply by charging them with electricity, which somehow makes them increase in size (insert shots of real fruit bats). Yep, not only is he a chemical genius, but a wiz at bioengineering as well (unlike the lazy specialists depicted nowadays, those old-timey scientists did it all). The titular creature doesn’t disappoint. As it swoops in for the kill, the giant bloodthirsty bat shrieks like an enraged Muppet.
Another Victim of the Devil Bat

In one scene, in which Carruthers confronts Henry Morton, the company head replies with the patronizing comment, “You’re a dreamer, doc. Too much money is bad for dreamers.” In his DVD commentary, film historian Richard Harland Smith pointed out that most critics leave out the fact that Carruthers willingly sold out, so there wasn’t any wrongdoing on the part of the company. Despite this “gotcha,” something doesn’t sit right. The audience is missing some information that a few lines of exposition can’t provide. We don’t know if he was coerced to sell his cold cream formula for such a pittance or if it was simply a moment of poor judgment. Whichever reason was Carruther’s motivation for selling, it’s hard to have sympathy for a couple of businessmen that, in good conscience, lowballed the scientist and significantly profited off his invention. Does that mean Carruthers is justified in bumping off the cosmetics company family members one by one? Nope, but they certainly could have coughed up a little extra dough for the good doctor (Or perhaps he should have hired a good lawyer? Although I’d take killer bats over a court procedural any day.). It’s also worth noting that the Heaths and the Mortons are a pretty cold bunch. Mary Heath (Suzanne Kaaren) doesn’t seem particularly distressed about the fact that her brother was just viciously murdered, but seems to enjoy Layton’s flirting. 

Layton, McGuire, and Mary Heath

Lessons learned:

·       If you can’t have fun with your revenge plot, don’t do it at all.

·       Don’t upset a chemist, you never know what they’ll concoct next.

·       The more irritating you are, the more appealing you appear to the object of your affections.

·       A few pesky murders can’t thwart Cupid’s arrow.

Dr. Carruthers

The Devil Bat was ravaged by reviewers of the time, including one from Variety who dismissed it as “pretty terrible,” with “Acting, directing, photography – all poor.” But I think that misguided critic and their like-minded colleagues missed the point. Is it a self-conscious dark comedy or a naïve revenge thriller? Does it really matter? Considering the multiple one-liners that Carruthers employs in his send-offs, I suggest it would be the former. The Devil Bat may not have won many accolades, but it made me smile. Taken in the proper light, hopefully it will do the same for you. 

Sources for this article: Kino DVD commentary by Richard Harland Smith; Poverty Row Horrors! by Tom Weaver (1993)