1999, Movie, PG-13, 91 mins


A straight-faced throwback to the glory days of mutant wildlife on the rampage, this small-scale shocker pits a flock of way-too-smart bats against the residents of tiny Gallup, TX. The first hint that something's amiss comes when two teens are ripped to bits in their car. Enter weirdo researcher Dr. McCabe (Bob Gunton) and Dr. Hodge (Carlos Jacott) of the Centers for Disease Control. They seem to know altogether too much about what's going on, and are remarkably reluctant to share it with local lawman Sheriff Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips) or visiting bat expert Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer). Turns out there's not all that much to know; McCabe has created a race of oversized, ultra-intelligent, hyper-aggressive super bats (Why? "Because I can!" he cackles) and they're on the loose in Southern Texas, getting in people's hair and then ripping their scalps off. If the bats spread, everybody's going to be very, very sorry. You may be having a flashback right about now to NIGHTWING or CHOSEN SURVIVORS, because let's face it — there are only so many ways you can spin "us vs. the killer flying chihuahuas." The special effects bats are pretty amazing, though it may not have been a good idea to show them in close-up so often; real bats don't look real in close up (you know, nature's gargoyles), let alone fake ones — no matter how carefully and accurately constructed. And once the little beasts start crawling into cars through the exhaust pipes with malevolent intent and dive-bombing people in convenience stores, it's hard not to think of GREMLINS. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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