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Film / Bats

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Where do you hide when the dark is alive?

Bats is a 1999 American adventure-horror film, directed by Louis Morneau and produced by Bradley Jenkel and Louise Rosner. The film stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton and Leon. It was the first film released by Destination Films.

Bats, the result of a government experiment gone wrong, have suddenly become intelligent, vicious, and omnivorous, and are attacking people near Gallup, Texas. Bat specialist Sheila Casper and her assistant Jimmy are brought in and team-up with local sheriff Emmett Kimsey, but can they stop the bats before the military comes in and, in their ignorance, makes things worse?


  • Abandoned Mine: The bats are roosting in the old Black Rock Mine. This is where the final confrontation between human and bat takes place.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Several bar customers just sit and drink without any concern as people are being attacked and killed in the streets.
  • Armies Are Evil: Turns out that the only bunch of people crazy enough to fund Dr. McCabe's research was the U.S Government searching for a bio-weapon to unleash on their enemies. The government agent that tells so (to the lieutenant in charge of the detachment sent to hunt the bats) even does it with a matter-of-factly "yeah, we did it".
  • Badass Bystander: When the Bats attack the town, as most of his customers just sit there, the bartender grabs his shotgun and races onto the street shooting bats for a while. Unfortunately, when he runs out of ammo he then proceeds to accidentally endanger both Sheila and Kimsey, as he gets into the nearest car to flee, it happens to be the car Kimsey was hiding under for cover. He then proceeds to crash the car and knock out a ticket booth that Sheila was hiding in.
  • Bat Out of Hell: The bats have been genetically engineered to be more intelligent and omnivorous in an attempt to create the ultimate predator. Sheila immediately says something must be wrong when she finds out that bats (specifically flying foxes) are involved, saying they don't act like this.
  • Black Guy Dies First: Subverted. Jimmy, Sheila's tech support/boyfriend, is Black and ends up in the thick of the action thanks to following her. A number of people die, including the sheriff's deputy, the CDC agent who brought them in, and the scientist who altered the bats, but Jimmy survives to the end credits.
  • Bioweapon Beast: It's eventually revealed that the U.S. government asked Dr. McCabe to create omnivorous, intelligent and murderously vicious bats as a weapon for an unspecified purpose. The Doctor took the task eagerly just to see if it could be done.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Subverted. The closing scene shows the lone surviving bat slowly and menacingly rise up from the dirt in preparation to fly off into the sunrise, only to get run over by the heroes' SUV as they drive off into the sunrise. Didn't stop Sci-Fi Channel from making a sequel, though...
  • Enemy Rising Behind: When the Bats attack the town in force, Kimsey's deputy Wesley is chased into an empty building and shoots at bats for a while, not seeing that one is behind him and beginning to crawl up his jacket.
  • Flash Freezing Coolant: The plan to get rid of the titular bats is to use an industrial refrigeration unit to disperse coolant above and into their cave while they sleep, so they go into hibernation and eventually freeze to death.
  • For Science!: Obviously Evil Mad Scientist Dr. McCabe initially justifies creating the eponymous (killer and super-intelligent) bats with the words "I'm a scientist. That's what we do. Make everything a little bit better." It's later hinted that it was a secret government project, but still you have to wonder why the protagonists accepted that justification so well...
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The intelligent, omnivorous, killer bats were the result of genetic experimentation by a rogue scientist. Had the movie been made 30 years earlier, it is easy to imagine they would have been the product of atomic tests in the desert.
  • Hidden Depths: Sheriff Kimsey turns out to be a fan of opera. He even lampshades that it'd make him lose points as a badass if anybody else in town knew it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: McCabe is killed by the bats he genetically engineered to be the ultimate predator and to prey on humans.
  • Ironic Last Words: Dr. McCabe expresses his belief that he can control the bats and calls them to come to him. They do...and immediately go straight for the blood vessels.
  • Lovable Coward: Jimmy is played as more comedically scared than the sheriff or Dr. Caspers, quickly wishing he could head for Antarctica to avoid the titular beasts. (It doesn't help that he's freaked out even by harmless bats.) However, he stays with them the entire time they're trying to stop the crisis, helping to get civilians away from the carnage and to make sure the bats don't spread.
  • Karmic Death: McCabe is killed by his own creations while attempting to communicate with them.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Plucky Comic Relief uses a home-made flamethrower to (quite gleefully) burn several bats when they come to attack the school the heroes turned into their headquarters.
  • Kill It with Ice: The plan for destroying the bats involves using an industrial coolant dispersal device to drop the temperature in the mine till they start to hibernate and then freeze to death.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. McCabe created the bats with the specific intention of killing people. He is killed attempting to communicate with them, although a minute before being killed he also makes clear that he deliberately released them (it was said earlier in the film and taken as truth that the bats had accidentally escaped) and that he has no desire to order them to stop.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The U.S. Army only provides the heroes with intel in order to determine where the bats could be, obtains the refrigeration unit that will kill the bats for good and then decides to go deliver it into the nest... at night. The heroes finish the job with the gear they scavenge from the detachment's base.
  • Redshirt Army: The U.S. military detachment in charge of dealing with the bat problem goes to the spot where the bats nest, at night, and is completely annihilated.
  • Science Is Bad: Mad Scientist Dr. McCabe initially justifies creating the rampaging super intelligent omnivorous bats with the words "I'm a scientist! That's what we do!". No one finds this explanation even the slightest bit strange.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The continuation film by the Sci-Fi Channel involves a new swarm of bats raising hell somewhere in Eastern Europe.
  • The Sheriff: Sheriff Kimsey is not well-equipped to fight a swarm of killer bats, but the people of his county are under threat and it is his job to protect.
  • Species Title: About genetically engineered killer bats.
  • The Swarm: The bats attack the town in their thousands, easily overwhelming even the most heavily-armed opponent.
  • Toilet Humor: As if their plight wasn't already hard enough, the protagonists end up having to wade through waist-high bat guano when they enter the cave to enact the final plan. It is unbelievably gross.
  • Villain by Default: The eponymous monsters were genetically engineered by a "mad" scientist. When asked why he would create such a creature, his response basically sums up the premise of this trope: "Because I'm a scientist! That's what we do!"
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Jimmy describes himself as being uncomfortable around the bats up close while Sheila goes into the caves after them, which is why Jimmy is the one who stays outside with the equipment and talks into her radio.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jimmy doesn't like bats to begin with and he's very quickly scared and unhappy when it turns out that Gallup has a swarm of human-killing bats on the rampage.
  • Zerg Rush: The bats keep coming in great numbers, at one point there's enough of them in the sky to block out the full moon.