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us title: The Bat
italian title:
year: 1959
director: Crane Wilbur
composer: Louis Forbes
full details: IMDB
overall score: 46

Bottom Line: For Completists Only
As long as you've seen eveything else, this is worth a look.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Five years before Mario Bava unleashed his archetypal Giallo classic Blood and Black Lace on the world, American audiences were treated to a murder mystery featuring a black-gloved, black-masked, fedora-wearing killer who lurks in the shadows and lacerates the throats of his victims with his claw hand. 

Typically double-billed on home video with The House on Haunted Hill, Crane Wilbur's The Bat is the 3rd cinematic remake of the original Broadway play from 1920. The film shares many similarities with the Giallo and is a solid contender on the GialloScore for an American film from 1959. 

Lacking any of the golden-age Giallo glamour and titillation, The Bat features many elements that would eventually become staples in the films of the genre. Specifically the aforementioned black-gloved killer, the bumbling and incompetent police investigation, the murder mystery writer turned amateur detective, the financial gain motive, the final reveal and explanation, and a number of shifty red herring suspects.

For me the film isn't particularly entertaining. Too much time is spent on exposition and character establishment. The underlying black-comedy aspect of the film deflates any of the tension in the suspense scenes of which there are hardly any. There are plenty of better American Hammer-style horror films worth watching before this one (including The House on Haunted Hill).

But there's no denying that the stylistic elements employed here influenced the Italian filmmakers who would transform some of these ideas into the landmark films that spawned the Giallo movement. So if you're a completest or a Giallo historian this film should be on your checklist.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 30/60
Hidden Identity10 points
Black Gloves5 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Motivation: Blackmail/Gain5 points
Avoid Capture: Killed by Police or other character5 points
Standards : 12/30
Body Count >= 34 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Signatures : 4/10
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Comic Relief Character1 point
Pathologist1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Total Points : 46/100



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Published: 2015-06-15