The Vampire Bat (1933)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 12/23/15
Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye

A series of murders have been committed in a small European town, and all evidence points to vampires. Local constable Karl (Melvyn Douglas) dismisses the opinions of the town elders as superstitious nonsense, but without any solid clues he eventually begins to consider vampirism as a possibility. The respected Dr. Niemann (Lionel Atwill) aids Karl in his investigation and encourages him to pursue the vampire angle, but it's all just a clever ruse to divert attention away from the doctor's secret experiments, which happen to require large amounts of human blood. Karl finally solves the case by outwitting the increasingly suspicious doctor, and manages to rescue his girlfriend Ruth (lovely Fay Wray) before she becomes the vampire's latest victim.

"The Vampire Bat" is a quaint and enjoyable production with a shrewdly misleading title. Apart from the annoyingly fussy and hypochondriac Aunt Gussie, the characters are wonderful and the acting is quite good. Both Lionel Atwill and Melvyn Douglas are commanding and charismatic, and Fay Wray is simply stunning. Dwight Frye delivers a delightfully eccentric performance as the town fool, who is mercilessly hunted down by the hysterical townsfolk under suspicion of being a vampire. It's more of a murder mystery than a horror film, and offers very little in terms of thrills and scares, but the script is taut and the characters are engaging. A fun trip for fans of classic horror, when vampires were all the rage.