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The Devil Bat [Bela Lugosi]

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The Devil Bat, starring Bela Lugosi
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The Devil Bat (1940), starring Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O’Brien

Synopsis of The Devil Bat

In The Devil Bat, a deranged scientist (Bela Lugosi) develops an aftershave lotion that incites his gigantic bats to kill! Director Jean Yarbrough (House of Horrors, She-Wolf of London) guided Lugosi to one of his most fiendish performances in a film that turned out to be a big hit for Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). This movie may not stop you from shaving, but it will make you crave more horrors from Hollywood’s poverty row!


I have to admit, I enjoy The Devil Bat quite a bit.  The underlying plot is that Bela Lugosi’s character is driven by envy.  He created a shaving lotion that he sold to the Heath family.  They’ve made millions from it.  He was given the option to to have a percentage of the sales. Instead, he chose the one-time payment.  But he blames everyone else for his choice.  And he almost has a change of heart when the Heath family offers him a percentage of future sales.  They don’t have to, but they feel it’s the right thing to do.  But almost doesn’t count.  It’s an interesting character study in obsession, and blaming other people for your own choices.  Wrapped in a horror movie story.

Cast of characters

  • Bela Lugosi (Dracula 1931, White Zombie) as Dr. Paul Carruthers. Physician, chemist, and mad scientist. When does he find time to sleep? To get revenge on the Heath family, he’s developed gigantic bats, whom he’s trained to follow the scent of his newly-designed shaving lotion. And kill!
  • Suzanne Kaaren (Disorder in the Court, Miracles for Sale) as Mary Heath. The female protagonist, who becomes the last surviving member of the Heath family.
  • Dave O’Brien as Johnny Layton. A hot shot reporter, assigned to cover (and help solve) the murders. He becomes Mary’s love interest as well.
  • Donald Kerr as “One-Shot” McGuire. Johnny’s bumbling photographer, and comedy relief.
  • Edward Mortimer (At the Circus, A Chump at Oxford) as Martin Heath. The head of the family. One of Carruthers’ victims.
  • Alan Baldwin as Tommy Heath. Another victim.
  • John Ellis as Roy Heath. Last name of Heath? He’s on the victim list.

Editorial review of The Devil Bat courtesy of

Mad scientist Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi), creates a giant murderous bat by inundating a normal bat with electrical current. He plans to seek vengeance on his employers, the Heath family, whose cosmetic firm has generated many millions of dollars through sales of the shaving lotion that the doctor had created. Although he had willingly sold the patent rights to the family, he begins to systematically murder them with the monstrous flying demon he has bred. Asking his victims to sample his latest shaving lotion, he admonishes them to apply a bit to “the tender part of the neck.” Unfortunately for them, the hideous devil-bat has been taught to attack that particular scent with predictably lethal results. Forebodings of Carruther’s malevolent intentions are signaled in his sinister accent as he warmly bids them “Goodbye.”

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