The Bat has a good premise and two accomplished mystery/horror stars in Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. There’s plenty going on–a series of murders, and a million dollars gone missing.
The tone flips between mystery and comedy like a stagey British parlor story. Having a mass murderer on the loose in and around an isolated mansion sounds promising. Everyone’s a suspect, if for no other reason than the money. Casting Moorehead’s Cornelia as a mystery writer is an unnecessary contrivance. Can’t we find out that we’re seeing a mystery without having it announced, so to speak?
The ‘bat’ role is a cool idea. Part of the mystery lies in figuring out if he’s a deranged human, or…something else. As soon as he enters the house, we see that he’s just a guy with a mask, but the various props he uses definitely put fear into Cornelia and her guests. It was fitting that the ‘bat’ gets Price, as we’re led to believe he’s the prime ‘bat’ suspect.
The action picks up nicely from that point. Strangely, as the ‘Goofs’ post points out, the policeman calls for help after the ‘bat’ cuts the phone line. I just wish, as other reviewers have said, that Lizzie would’ve become a victim, and the sooner the better. Her old-biddy act really messes with the tone. Some humor in a mystery /crime/horror movie is ok, but it should fit in with the overall atmosphere. Someone losing it would make sense; instead she’s merely a silly distraction.
The denouement works pretty well. I suspected the Lieutenant, but I thought it might’ve worked better had Fleming somehow survived, and returned from the woods to get the money. I realize that’s absurd, as Price would have had to kill someone else to have a body, which is exactly what he had just refused to do. We were told early on that the Lieutenant had money problems, he knew the money was in the house, and he had the most legitimate reason to poke around there.
The problem remains that the ‘bat’ was around before anything happened at the house; that is, before Fleming was killed, and before there was any hidden money. It’s never even mentioned that the Lieutenant is the second ‘bat-man’, or who the original one might have been. Still, The Bat was entertaining. Just needed more of a bite. 6/10.