Tuesday, April 21, 2009


When an elite group of American soldiers embarks on a special mission to capture a rogue scientist hiding in a Chechnyan forest, they find more than they bargained for...genetically altered, flesh-chomping bats.


Much like BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, BATS: HUMAN HARVEST is not really a sequel to the first BATS. None of the original cast or crew appear to be involved. Netflix describes it as a "follow-up."

I sort of want these livetxts to Elana to speak for themselves, cell phone punctuation and all -

Msg: Okay, BATS: HUMAN HARVEST actually has a compelling open. Well played, mr. merryman. [Brett Merryman, co-writer/co-producer.]
Msg: Except for the actor with the really bad fake croatian accent.
Msg: Wow. Weapons grade bad acting. Hello sexy counter terrorism science lady! (whoops,chechen, not croatian)
Msg: Hahahahaha freeze frame metal soundtrack american army gear-up montage
Msg: Amazing handguns that never require reloading!
Msg: The evil scientist talks just like lorne michaels
Msg: Did they even handcuff dr evil? Hes just walking around with his palms together
Msg: Now the american lone wolf is being led away by sexy russian double agent, arms behind his back. No room in the budget for handcuffs?
Msg: Oh, its over. Yay

But there's more to it than that. Yes, there are the confines of the genre (as it were) - the black ops mission, the lone wolf soldier who fights being a team player, Natasha Badinoff, Dr. SNL, and of course the bats - but like I said, compelling open. Obvious limited budget, but the shot reuse is clever enough that while the viewer realizes she is eating leftovers for the fourth night in a row, she does note their transformation from, say, stew to omlette filling to casserole to casserole over rice with little to no resentment...and even admiration for the chef's versatility.

Take, for example, the scene between three Chechnyan farmer dudes toting their heavy cart of farm crap up to the edge of the forest. They argue briefly about the merits of going through (shorter) vs. around (reputedly deadlier), and the pro-through guy attempts to prove his point by walking a few feet into the trees and yelling something like "See? According to all those completely silly rumors, I should be dead by now!" Cue bats biting off his arm at the elbow, cue FOREARM FLYING ACROSS THE SCREEN, SPEWING "BLOOD."


And there is a bunch of actual witty dialogue, none of which I thought to write down so you'll just have to take my word for it. Or better yet, read THE WIDOWMAKER, which, if there is any justice in this world, will get sold and made. Hi, Brett, I have a big crush on your script.

Monday, April 20, 2009

BATS (1999)

When a colony of genetically mutated bats begins eating residents of a small Texas town, a chiroptologist and her wisecracking black sidekick (tm) are called in to batten down the hatches.


Brett Merryman wrote one of my very favorite spec scripts of 2008, THE WIDOWMAKER (not the K-19 one) - a completely non-campy spy story that ends in destruction and awesomeness. But before he wrote that, he co-wrote and co-produced BATS: HUMAN HARVEST, which I will discuss in a later post. Naturally, I had to check out the regular BATS first.

The main thing you need to know about BATS is that it is an homage to Hitchcock's THE BIRDS. In the making-of featurette, director Louis Morneau tells you so. And then lead actor Lou Diamond Phillips tells you so as well. So you know it's true.

So basically these two innocent teenagers get chomped to death at Lover's Point or whatever and the military calls Sheila Casper, Bat Ph.D to investigate and exterminate with extreme prejudice. She loves the little batties and doesn't want them to die. Town sheriff and resident sweaty and muscular tank top wearer Lou Diamond Phillips is none too thrilled with this development, either: His town, his biceps, his rules. They manage to agree to kill the bats, together, after the bloodthirsty creatures fight their way into their locked truck, hurling their furry fangy selves through the windows, squirming in from beneath the gas pedal.

Lou evacuates the town - any reluctant-to-leave residents quickly change their minds after a semi-CGI bat attack on Main Street, where the movie theater is playing NOSFERATU; then he, Dr. Casper, and Wisecracking Black Sidekick (remember him?) locate the local evil scientist (tm) behind all this and barricade themselves in an abandoned school. Evil Scientist sneaks out to commune with his creations, which (spoiler alert!) promptly destroy him, leaving Casper, WBS, and sweaty, muscular Lou to destroy the bat herd with - now - military assistance. A plan is hatched, the plan goes awry due to infighting and whatnot (by this point I was basically doing my nails and counting minutes until the bombs were supposed to happen), Casper and sweaty Lou are forced to decend into the underground bat lair, where they set phasers on stun or something and then make it up and out just in time for everything to blow to the high heavens in a glorious detonation of 80% of the below the line expenses. Oh, and also the WBS doesn't die! It's a happy ending for everyone. Except the bats.

BATS tv promo with Dutch subtitles: