Nightwing 1979 Movie A swarm of bats flying away from a fire behind them

At Dawn They Sleep: Movies about Bats

Diverse and interesting, movies about bats are next up in our animal attack series. And if you’re wondering where our Rabbit Reviews fascination with natural horror will end, I’ve got no good answer for you. Out of all the animals we have been through so far (sharks, crocodiles, bees), I found the bats to be the least represented. Often in the background but never stars of the show, bats really deserve more attention from film-makers. And they are such amazing animals with a lot of interesting traits that could be used in movies. From echolocation, hibernation to the fact they are hanging upside down. Not to mention the fact that they can survive being encased in ice and are resistant to scorpion poison. Some of the bat species are endangered and if you would like to help check Bats Conservation Trust.

Europeans associated bats with death and witchcraft but other cultures have some pretty strange beliefs about our winged friends. Popobawa is a bat-like creature that often sodomizes its victims and it was the focus of a major panic in native Tanzania as recently as 1995. Aztecs and Mayans also had their bat gods Camazotz and Oaxaca. One of the few positive references to bats can be found in Chinese culture. I know, right. They have been associated with happiness, joy and good fortune. In this article, we will be going over movies about bats but we won’t be talking about Vampire or Batman movies. There are already so many articles written about these two that I think we don’t need another one. With an average runtime of 80 to 90 minutes, these movies are short and sweet, so let’s begin.

Honorable Mentions

These are the movies that do not feature bats but creatures that are very similar. It’s always fun to explore different genres and directors, especially when we’re talking about creature features. You might check out one movie and end up watching everything in this sub-genre or from the same director.

The House by the Cemetery [1981]

Have you been warned that bats will get into your hair and get stuck? Well, I have and it turns out that this is a myth. Ahh, the lies they fed us from an early age… Also known as Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero, this is one of the Lucio Fulci splatter horror movies. In case you’re not familiar with his work, he’s an Italian director and writer also known as The Godfather of Gore. The reason for this nickname is the level of goriness in his movies, especially in Zombi 2 and The Beyond. You can expect exactly the same from this movie. Brutal murder scenes and exactly one but really fucked up scene involving a bat. A very long and nasty scene that makes you wonder why the hell we didn’t get more bat movies in the eighties. This could be the most disturbing scene in all of our movies about bats.

After he showed off tits in the opening scene, Fulci decides to mix The Shining and The Amityville Horror into one hell of a movie. The atmosphere was really dreadful and foreboding with phenomenal sound editing. The murders are gruesome and bloody, something that you simply cannot see in modern movies. I should warn you that they are pretty fucked up, so be prepared for some explicit violence. Towards the end, the movie turns into a psychedelic nightmare that will stay with you for some time.

Graveyard Shift [1990]

Based on a short story written by Stephen King published in 1970, Graveyard Shift is a fun little movie resembling the rest of the King’s movies from that period. Especially The Mangler. Set in an old textile mill with a lot of machinery and not a lot of safety protocols, you get this sense that things can go wrong any minute. Not to mention the huge rat infestation that’s plaguing the mill. After one of the workers ends up in a cotton picker, John Hall, a drifter looking for work in this small town is hired to work on the machine. And then things take a turn for the worse.

The way this movie built this authentic and realistic atmosphere in the first forty minutes is simply amazing. Towards the end, things start looking really rushed and messy. Committed performances and the wait for the next scene involving our mysterious creature keep the attention peeled to the screen despite these flaws. With a couple of familiar faces like Andrew Divoff and Brad Dourif as The Exterminator, Graveyard Shift is a great warm-up movie. It will get you in the mood for the rest of the movies about bats. If for nothing else it’s worth watching just for the atmosphere that was spot on!

The Silence [2019]

The only movie on this list that has good special effects does not have bats! Technically, the creatures are called Vesps and they are completely blind, searching for their prey using sound waves or echolocation. This is the first clue that we’re talking about subspecies of bats and the second clue is the fact that they emerged from a fucking cave. So, after a couple of cave researchers unseal a cave that’s been sealed for centuries these creatures emerge and start wreaking havoc. They cannot see but they have excellent hearing so everyone must stay completely silent if they want to survive. We follow a family of a deaf girl trying to survive in these conditions.

Conditions that they are used to because they already know the sign language and do not rely on sounds if that makes sense. Clearly riding on a high-powered concept used in The Quiet Place, The Silence is your typical creatures attack a family movie. You can already guess who’s going to die and in what order. Formulaic and with several plot holes, this is a movie where you can’t wait for our Vesps to swoop down and eat our protagonists. Special effects are awesome and the creatures look truly frightening. It was so refreshing to see good production values and CGI after all the B movies.

The Beastmaster [1982]

The reason why I included this movie is purely a subjective one. Released two years before Conan the Destroyer, I watched it as a kid and was completely terrified by Winged Devourers, as I later learned they are called. They are half-human half-bat creatures that eat their prey in the most unusual way. I also have to mention a scene towards the end of the movie where our protagonists are chased down a narrow corridor by a guy in leather with glowing eyes. I know it sounds funny, but I was shitting my pants during this scene when I was younger.

The Beastmaster is your standard-issue sword and sorcery movie that wasn’t that successful when it was first released. However, exactly because it was so incessantly played and played on television it garnered a cult following. It’s a story about Dar, a man who’s looking for his fate and using his supernatural abilities to talk to animals to fight evil. Insanely entertaining and cute, this is one of those movies that you can watch every few years and it will still be fun. Something like Die Hard and other classics from the eighties. With a very good and diverse cast, great animal footage and vibrant atmosphere I highly recommend you check it out. If for nothing else than for skimpy outfits that everyone wears.

Best movies about bats

Unlike many sub-genres of movies where animals attack humans, bat movies are very diverse. From your standard-issue toxic-waste-mutated bats over mystical and supernatural to half-humans half-bats, each of these movies has a distinct story to tell. And since there’s not many of them, we should cherish each one.

9. The Devil Bat [1940]

This classic mad scientist horror starring none other than the most famous vampire of the 20th century Bela Lugosi is the first movie about bats. It’s so strange to watch a movie that’s eighty years old. You see how the world has changed and how it didn’t change at all, reminding you of your own mortality. Not to get too philosophical on you, The Devil Bat is a movie about Dr. Paul Carruthers, a scientist working for a big company that just offered him a bonus payment to thank him for his services. However, that bonus is practically nothing compared to the profits generated by his hard work. You can guess what’s going to happen next. This movie marked the beginning of a downward spiral for Lugosi, best remembered as count Dracula in the 1931 cult classic. We also have Dave O’Brien, best known for his role in another classic Reefer Madness. He’s the guy who kept yelling play it faster, play it faster! Ahh, good times, good times.

I really liked the fuck-you-to-the-greedy-companies angle in this movie. The special effects are comical with our flying bat looking like a giant pancake flying through the air. It also sounds like a screaming goat, so every time when it would shriek I would just bust out laughing remembering all those clips I watched. You can find them on YouTube, they are hilarious. There are also cute attempts of humor with our bumbling photographer called Oneshot and his love escapades. At least the movie has a really good atmosphere and pacing with something always happening. And with a runtime of just 68 minutes, it’s a great appetizer if you’re looking to gorge on movies about bats.

8. The Roost [2005]

Carefully constructed and stylish intro reminiscent of the old horror television shows like Fright Night and Tales from the Crypt shows commitment and love for the genre. This was the directorial debut for Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) made with a small budget and just one camera. The only real problem is the quality of the video that also had a seventies filter on. You know the one I’m talking about, like in Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature. Okay, the pacing is also an issue sometimes, with some really dragged out scenes. However, if you like this genre, you will appreciate the effort that everybody put into this. The sound editing and music were great and acting top-notch. These two elements kept The Roost going. We follow four friends on their way to a wedding when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. As they try to find help, strange things start happening.

Moody and atmospheric, The Roost has that student film vibe going on which makes it feel authentic. The story is straightforward and without many cliches that could ruin a movie like this. The special effects are okay, especially when you consider the budget. We also have the opportunity to see the zombats, people who have been bitten by bats and then transformed into zombies. This is the only movie about bats that features them. Unfolding in real-time and set in one location on fucking Halloween, it can be fun viewing, especially since the runtime is just over seventy minutes. It also provides you with the opportunity to see how a horror movie director is made. What mistakes he made and what could have been better. If you’re looking to take a break from bat movies after this one but would like to stay in the same driving-somewhere-troubles vibe, check out Dead End, following a family driving to a Christmas dinner, Splinter or Dark Country.

7. Bats: Human Harvest [2007]

This sequel to one of the better entries on this list Bats from 1999 has nothing to do with the original. Starring David Chokachi, best known as Cody Madison from Baywatch and Pollyanna McIntosh, best known as Jadis from The Walking Dead, it’s a mixed bag that can be entertaining at times. Pollyanna, a Scottish lassie, plays a Russian spy with a heavy Russian accent, something that she admirably pulled off quite well. Although you can see the frustration on her face at times. It revolves around genetically enhanced bats that are now dwelling in a Chechen forest that’s in the middle of the war-zone. So, you’ve got Russians, Americans and Chechen all in the same trouble. Just like in another really cheap sequel, Lake Placid 2, the entire movie was re-dubbed for unknown reasons. Since the movie follows a group of soldiers being attacked by a dangerous enemy in the jungle, you see that they were going for that Predator vibe.

Unfortunately, what we got is a barely watchable mess saved by our two main actors and some decent dialogue. For example, there’s a scene when a guy is strangling the scientist responsible for this mess and another guy walks in saying we don’t have time for this prompting the strangler to simply respond then make some time! Hilarious. The fast pacing didn’t mean much since you really don’t care about most of the things that are happening on the screen. With a bigger budget, I think that Bats: Human Harvest could have been a really decent movie about bats. Especially since it features a quite unique bat story about them being used by the military and it tried to improve on some of the aspects of the original.

6. Fangs [2002]

I think I should mentally prepare myself that every C or B movie with animals that attack humans could be a Jaws copy. Traumatized by all the bee movies where you have small, idyllic towns in the middle of nowhere invaded by a dangerous animal, I was unprepared for Fangs. You can clearly see it’s a product made for television, for that boomer audience that remembers the better days. Pepperidge farm remembers. And if you had any doubts about this, our main guy starts listing things that he likes about the good old days. This type of movie can be hilarious as a movie so bad it’s good and that’s how you should treat it. Just imagine if they flipped that storyline of idyllic town into the most fucked up town in the US. Like everyone is on drugs, armed to the teeth and crazy and then the animal’s attack. Now that’s the movie I would like to watch.

After the death of professor Fuller who was doing research on bats, young Ally Parks starts digging around looking for answers. Her quest leads her to Dr. John Winslow, an animal expert who’s willing to help with the investigation. Another clue about what type of movie is this is the fact that dashing Dr. John has been a widower for three years and still refuses to see anyone. Filled with wholesome content and values, Fangs is appropriate even for kids, unlike some of the more violent movies about bats. As it progresses it gets sillier and sillier and in the end, we end up with our heroes dressed like football players. American football players to be more precise. So, if you’re in the mood for some Jaws with bats complete with a yearly festival that’s about to get fucked up by hungry bats check out Fangs.

5. Nightwing [1979]

With a title as cool as this, I was expecting this movie to be an easy number one on this list. Fucking Nightwing, it just rolls from the tongue. And when I started getting Native American vibes my excitement just exploded. Upon further research, I found out that the name first pops up in a Superman comic back in 1963. Disappointments just keep pounding me as I continue to watch the movie finding it to be too diluted and slow. I really wanted it to work and it had such an interesting story set in a small Indian community in New Mexico, but ultimately I found it too disjointed. Toying with very powerful concepts like tribal rivalry, supernatural, capitalism and racism, Nightwing just can’t get out of second gear. It would be interesting to read the novel of the same name upon this movie is based. We follow Youngman Duran, a deputy who’s investigating a series of cattle mutilations. They seem really odd in nature and no one can figure out what type of animal could make such marks on the cattle. And why.

As in most of the movies about bats, the main culprits are the vampire bats or Desmodus rotundus, which is their Latin name. Shot at the height of the seventies animal attack craze Nightwing can provide you with your bat movie fix. The Australian movie revolving around native Aboriginal legend of a giant crocodile Dark Age did a tremendously better job with this dynamic. There is some decent bat footage and really good science talk about bats, but this is just too few elements to keep the movie together. It’s still worth watching, especially from this time distance. Set in the vast deserts of New Mexico, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful landscapes and stunning cinematography.

4. Chosen Survivors [1974]

Our second movie about bats from the seventies is the most original one. It combines two of the very popular motives of animal attacks and survival bunkers. Those are, of course, nuclear survival bunkers. Like the ones from the Fallout video game series that I played religiously. And enjoyed every second of it. As they were carrying half-awake and clearly drugged participants of this experiment into the bunker I kept thinking is this the mother of all those “let’s throw a bunch of diverse characters into a closed environment and go from there movies”? I don’t want to give away too much of the plot to keep you interested in this cute little flick. You can expect a claustrophobic atmosphere, good bat footage and some old-timey fun complete with slapping someone when they’re hysterical. Also, things take a turn for the worse as attempted rape is turned into consensual intercourse. That scene could be used in sex ed classes to show how not to do things.

Same as Nightwing, this is more of a survival movie than a full-on bats attack flick. And it also features a lot of subjects ripe for analysis. From the post-apocalyptic fears of the post-WWII society over government experiments to, finally, the way they “classified” their subjects. Not only can you analyze the characters themselves but also the writers who created them. This is a small and low-budget movie with a great atmosphere and a story with an original twist. The story that makes you think, especially now, almost fifty years later. Just one final note, as soon as I saw Alex Cord who plays Steven Mayes here, I instantly got a flashback of a video showing an arrest of his lookalike. It took me a while to figure out where did I see that scene and it turned out that it was the television show Narcos. And the guy in question is Don Neto AKA Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. Who’s still alive…

3. Vampire Bats [2005]

We are taking a small break from our series of seventies movies about bats with this little gem from 2005. Starring none other than Lucy Lawless also known as Xena: The Warrior Princess and Tony Plana whom you might recognize from numerous tv shows and movies, Vampire Bats demands nothing and offers a lot. Looking like it was shot a couple of years earlier, a feature that a lot of these B movies have, it has an unmistakable turn-of-the-century vibe. From music, clothing to general thinking. And while we’re on the thinking subject I applaud their commitment to the scientific approach that they forced throughout the movie. This is a sequel to the 2005 film Locusts also starring Lawless. You can expect classic made-for-television movie quality complete with commercial breaks. The effects are pretty decent and there are a lot of shots of our bats in action.

After some of the residents of a small Louisiana city find a dead college student, a police investigation leads them to Dr. Maddy Rierdon’s classroom. He was her student and police accuse some of his classmates of ritualistic murder. Maddy decides to help them and discovers that the body has strange marks. Marks that only a bat could make. The only problem is that bats do not attack humans. And suck their blood. Vampire Bats is just a fun and entertaining movie to watch. I mean, these kids get invited to an “underground” party that turns out served free punch spiked with ecstasy. That’s MDMA or Molly for all you youngins out there. The toxic waste story fits in well with the general scientific narrative and reminds me of another movie with a similar plot: Alligator. I know it’s a strange decision to rank this obviously corny tv movie this high but I just had a blast watching it. With good pacing, it was over before I knew it.

2. The Bat People [1974]

Here’s another controversial decision, to rank this movie this high. It’s often found at the bottom of the IMDb’s Worst 100 Movies list and it has a misleading title. There are no bat people, just one bat guy. Please, let me elaborate on this decision. I had no idea what this movie was about when I played it. Apart from the fact it’s about bats. It turned out to be a really intense psychological horror with great performances and a phenomenal atmosphere. I mean, it works perfectly well as a period movie, showing us what life looked like in the seventies. We find ourselves in ski resorts, pools, doctor’s offices, hotels and many other places that give off that authentic vibe. The movie opens with nightmarish scenes of fruit bats close up just setting the mood for the rest of it. It turns out that it was a nightmare that our hero Johnny was having. Recently married Dr. John Beck takes his wife spelunking in Carlsbad Caverns where he’s bitten by a bat. This event will change his life forever.

Starring Stewart Moss who looks like Carl Sagan to me, The Bat People is a serious movie that explores both the new husband-wife dynamic as well as altered states of mind. Just replace the bat mutation with any mental disorder and this movie starts looking more and more realistic. Committed performances from Moss and Marianne McAndrew, playing his wife create the necessary dynamic. Now, when it comes to actual bat footage this movie has some phenomenal stock footage of bats while the special effects were sparse. This is the first Stan Winston (Terminator, Jurassic Park, Aliens) movie and we get a decent hand and headshot of our mutated creature. However, that’s it. There are some odd plot twists and strangely philosophical dialogue that I will leave for you to discover. In the end, The Bat People is a strange movie and I understand why people might not like it, but it’s worth a watch if you’re willing to go all in. And it’s really refreshing after all these movies about bats featuring relatively similar plots.

1. Bats [1999]

If you’re looking for that entertaining and funny movie about bats look no further. Bats is the perfect B movie with a likable cast, great script and good practical effects. It reminded me a lot of Lake Placid that came out the same year. Just like any good creature feature, it starts with a couple going back and forth in a car. It doesn’t take long before the bats get them. Right from the start you see competent editing and great camerawork that made the movie really easy to watch. And just in case you were not sure that this is going to be a B movie extravaganza Lou Diamond Phillips name pops up. Followed by none other than my high-school crush Dina Meyer also known as that girl how showed her tits in Starship Troopers. But that’s not all. We have Bob Gunton and incredibly funny Leon in supporting roles. Directed by Louis Morneau who made a phenomenal sci-fi thriller Retroactive just a couple of years earlier and written by John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall, The Aviator, Sweeney Todd) it’s no wonder Bats turned out the way it did.

Made with a budget of $5.25 million, it was a commercial success grossing well over $30 million in all sales. It’s really fast-paced and it doesn’t take too long before we’re thrown into full-blown mayhem with bats flying everywhere. The special effects were a good mixture of CGI and practical effects with some pretty gnarly murder scenes. The city of Gallup, Texas is in big trouble. There seems to be a huge roost of bats living nearby and they’re attacking everything in sight. Now, Sheriff Emmett Kimsey and bat expert, Dr. Sheila Casper must work together to get to the bottom of this. Bats reminded me of Primeval and Phantoms, although the CDC involvement combined with the military gives off an Outbreak vibe. I hope you had fun with our selection of movies about bats and stay tuned for more lists!