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Film / It Lives by Night

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"Well, maybe IT shouldn't drink so much coffee."


It Lives By Night, also known as The Bat People, is an American International Pictures horror film from 1974 that's best known for its appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's the story of a researcher and his wife who suffer a case of The Stupids and wander away from the tour group in a cave for a bit of honeymoon-making. Of course, they are attacked by a bat and he gets bitten, and from then on he periodically turns into a sort of half-bat-half-human monster.

His symptoms are first mistaken for rabies, as the Grooviest Doctor in the World ascertains. However, this turns out not to be the case. Given the unexplained, violent deaths that tend to follow cases like this, law enforcement becomes interested. Said law enforcement is one loathsome, perverted cop who seems to have a thing for women in vulnerable situations.


Just what will be the fate of our hapless, transforming protagonist? Can he rid the bats from his belfry and return to a normal life? Will he outwit the lecherous Sergeant? Will he lay with his pinched, ferret-y killjoy of a wife to infect her with his were-bat affliction, and then run off to kill a smelly homeless guy? Answer key: no, kinda, NOOOOOOOO! and yes.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.


Tropes found in It Lives By Night:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Sgt. Ward, a.k.a. Sheriff Menacing W. Pervert.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Well, your precise definition of "bad guy" may be important here, but at the end of the movie John, who you may remember murdered several people, is at large and remains a danger to all. His wife supports him and implicitly becomes a bat person herself. Sgt. Ward is killed by a bat... swarm. Bats swarm, right?
  • Bat Out of Hell: A werewolf version of the "Dire Bat" variant as well as a swarm.
  • Car Chase: Man, for a crazy guy Johnny drives like a maniac! Wait...
  • Catapult Nightmare: Several times. At one point he just darts up and starts screaming.
  • Catch-Phrase: Ward's "Know what I mean?" His last utterance is a Dark Reprise / Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
  • Corrupt Cop: Sgt. Ward.
  • Fate Worse than Death
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Our choices for hero are the corrupt, leering sheriff or the Jerkass who turns into a bat and murders people (and later admits that he likes it and doesn't intend to do anything about it).
  • Hero Antagonist: Sgt. Ward may be a slimy person, but he's the only one who seems to be aware that Johnny is trouble. Too bad he's too inept to do anything about it.
  • Jerkass: Johnny seemed to be an asshole even before he was bitten, especially to his wife Kathy.
    • Made even more cringe-inducing by the fact that the two actors who played Johnny and Kathy are real-life husband and wife.
  • Monster Misogyny: John kills four people, on-screen (not counting Ward, who was killed by a bat swarm). The only one not a young, attractive female was a drunk hobo - who got several lines of dialog before dying.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Implied with Ward.
  • Obviously Evil: John isn't evil per se, but his guilt is very apparent to Sgt. Ward and the viewer. Too bad Ward was too stupid to do anything about it when he had the chance.
  • Porn Stache: Dr. Mellow Ski Bum sports an epic one.
  • Wham Line: When Kathy and Ward arrive at the cave at the end, we get this from Kathy...
    Kathy: Goodbye, Sergeant. (sics a swarm of bats on him)

Alternative Title(s): The Bat People


Example of: