The Devil Bat
Enemies of a chemist, beware! In the comic-horror classic "The Devil Bat” (1940), Bela Lugosi plays Dr. Paul Carruthers, whose "weird, terrifying experiments” result in giant killer bats. Carruthers' plan for the bats is a diabolical yet innovative approach to murder: angered that his rich employers haven't shared with him more of the profits of the cosmetic company he helped make successful, he trains the bats to attack anyone wearing a special lotion. He convinces his targets to wear the lotion, resulting in their doom. The comic element comes in with a goofy photographer who helps a journalist solve the murders and bring the doctor to poetic justice.
The film taps into the political and philosophical currents of its day, when debates about the proper relationship between laborer, corporate owners, and financial profits were frenzied. Socialist-leaning thinking argued that corporate owners grew rich by exploiting the laborers—pocketing more than was fair of financial reward. By making Carruthers a villain who can't appreciate the generosity of his employers rather than a victim exploited for their greed, "The Devil Bat” comes down squarely on the side of mid-century Capitalist, anti-Communist sentiment.
Julia BartZookeeper and bat trainer Julia Bart of Utah's Hogle Zoo discusses bat behavior and the film "The Devil Bat.”
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