“Where Do You Hide When The Dark Is Alive?”- ‘Bats’ (1999) 20th Anniversary Retro Review

The ’90s may be known as the decade that brought back the slasher genre to audiences with Scream, but it is also the decade that brought many creature features to us. Bats (1999) is one of them. Released on October 20, 1999, the film may not be as well know as some others such as Arachnophobia, Deep Rising, Species, Tremors, Mimic and The Relic. It may not be a blockbuster of the decade like Jurassic Park. But, it definitely is a fun film from the ’90s that you may have missed. Let’s take a look back at Bats!

Film Synopsis:

Genetically mutated bats escape and it’s up to a bat expert and the local sheriff to stop them.

The Cast and Crew:

Louis Morneau, no stranger to creature features with Carnosaur 2 (1995) under his belt, directed Bats. He would later direct horror films The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting (2003) and Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (2008). Written by John Logan as one of his first writing credits, he has gone on to write many blockbusters, including Gladiator (2000), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Skyfall (2012). More recently, he had a hand in writing the script for Alien: Covenant (2017). He both created and wrote the Penny Dreadful TV series and has just announced the Penny Dreadful: City of Angels TV series.

The film stars Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba 1987, Young Guns 1988) as Sheriff Emmett Kimsey and Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers 1997, Star Trek: Nemesis 2002) as Dr. Sheila Casper.

Bats still photo
Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer) and Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips) in Bats.

The film also stars veteran film and TV actor Bob Gunton (Demolition Man 1993, The Shawshank Redemption 1994 – read our tribute to the film here) as Dr. Alexander McCabe.

Bats still photo
Actor Bob Gunton

Rounding out the cast is Leon (Cool Runnings 1993, Oz TV series) as Jimmy Sands. You may recognize him from Madonna’s iconic 1989 video, “Like a Prayer.”

Leon from Bats
Leon as Saint Thomas in Madonna’s 1989 video, “Like a Prayer.”

The Film:


I suppose after viewing this trailer, it is a surprise to find that Bats had a theatrical release. In today’s world, this would probably be a Syfy channel film or straight to video release. The film is definitely formulaic, so don’t bother looking for anything different from the typical story of small town gets hit with an invasion of mutant killer creatures. There’s the town sheriff and the hot scientist chick, great supporting characters and some hellish mutated bats. That’s about it. It is a fun film, with quirky lines and solid performances, and is worth a watch even after 20 years. The special effects are great for the era. I believe they hold up for the most part all these years later. Is it corny and cheesy at times? But of course! That’s what is so much fun about it.

Watch Bats right now!

Bats Film Trivia:

  • Shot in thirty-six days
  • Produced in just under 6 months, the picture continues to hold one of the top spots for fastest produced 35mm feature films (from script to screen) to receive a wide-release. Pre-production: script acquired/director hired: May, 1999. Production: June and July, 1999. Post-production: edited (including 250+ visual effects), scored and mixed: August and September, 1999. The film was released on 2,540 screens in the U.S. on October 22, 1999.
  • With a final budget of $5.25 million, Bats recouped it all in its first week in theaters. It grossed well over $30 million worldwide in theatrical, DVD, digital, and television sales.
  • The bats in the film were a combination of animatronics, CGI, and 2 live bats. The 2 original bats in the film were brought over from Indonesia.

Bats photo

  • Lou Diamond Phillips brought his own cigars. Moreover, Phillips also ad-libbed some of his dialogue.
  • Dina Meyer dyed her hair blonde for her role as Dr. Sheila Casper.
  • Theatrical teaser trailers (which included no images from the actual film) appeared in theaters as the picture had just begun its second week of a 28 day shoot. No actual full-length trailers were ever created in time for the film’s theatrical release.

So, now that you know a bit more about Bats, are you going to check it out in all of its 20 year old glory? Let us know in the comments below!

About JenniferLeigh

I love a good scare. I have a collection of over 500 horror movies and I am an avid reader as well. I'm also a fan of other nerdoms, Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Files, Firefly and Doctor Who to name a few. I live in Illinois with my husband and cats who share my nerdoms.

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