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In the central European village Kleinschloss, a killer is loose, and
since he sucks the blood of all his victims, the superstitious villagers,
including the Bürgermeister, believe it was either a vampire bat, or a
vampire. Only the very sober police inspector Brettschneider (Melvyn
Douglas) and Doctor Niemann (Lionel Atwill) seem to disagree, but before
long the evidence seems to become overwhelming, and the villagers even
think they have a prime suspect, Herman (Dwight Frye at his usual crazy
best), the village idiot, who can somehow be tied to most of the murders
... so the villagers form a mob to hunt him down.
Meanwhile another murder happens, in Niemann's own house, and once
again, all evidence seems to point to Herman ... when the Bürgermeister
arrives and announces Herman is dead, killed way before the murder and
like a proper vampire (including a stake through the heart and head cut
off) ... so that throws a spanner in the vampire theory.
The audience of course knows by now that the real killer is Doc Niemann
himself, who hypnotizes his servant Emil (Robert Frazer) to bruing him his
victims he then sucks dry in his laboratory, for his experiments - but
inspector Brettschneider doesn't know that, nither does he know that the
sleeping pills the good doctor is handing him are poison, and that he,
Brettschneider, is supposed to be the good Doctor's next victim.
Later that night, Niemann's assistant Ruth (Fay Wray) catches Niemann
holding Emil - who's already in Brettschneider's room - under hypnoic
spell from afar. Immediately she realizes that Niemann is actually the
killer, and pretty much immediately Niemann has her tied up ... then he
goes to his lab to work his magic on Brettschneider, but has to realize
that Brettschneider has not taken his sleeping pills, has actually
overcome Emil and is now threatening him with a gun. Niemann manages to
disarm Brettschneider, but then Emil picks up the gun and turns against
his master who has turned him into a murderer. Ultimately, Emil shoots
Niemann and then himself ...
The Vampire Bat is a very likeable, typical 1930's B-horror movie,
featuring a story with both horror and sci-fi-elements and some of the
best genre actors around during that time, including Lionel Atwill, Fay
Wray and Dwight Frye. If you like 1930's horror, you won't be