Thursday, November 20, 2014

DVD Review: Rise of the Black Bat

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2014
Images from the Internet

Rise of the Black Bat
Directed by Scott Patrick
Tom Cat Films / Brett Kelly Entertainment
80 minutes, 2012 / 2014

I know this is going to sound cliché, but I love indie films, especially indie horror films. I also love comic books and superheroes. During the time when I was seven and comics were a dime, my dad would buy a buck’s worth every two weeks for three years for both me and my brother (my brother and I? Screw it) which we would read while we waited in lobby of a convalescent hospital for my parent to visit my grandfather. Batman was always my favorite. Here, this may rattle your cannoli: we had Spiderman #1, Fantastic Four #1, Hulk #1, and so many others, which my dad ripped up because we read them after lights out. But I digress, and please continue after you pull your chins off the floor…

Around the time of Batman’s first appearance in the 1930s (decades before I was born, thank you), there was another character which was similar in a book called, yep, the Black Bat. He looked similar to Batman, as he had the black everything including a cowl, but without the ears, no utility belt, and a long black leather coat instead of the cape (which seemed impractical to me, even as a kid).

This film is based on that other character, rather than the one we know so well. Mickey Spillane-ish hard-boiled District Attorney Tony Quinn (Jody Haucke) is trying to bring down seemingly untouchable Crime Boss Oliver Snate (Leo Frost), so on the verge of getting the bastid, Snate has Quinn blinded via an acid attack. With the help of some guy who for some unrealistic reason has become his servant, Silk Kirby (Richard Groen) and a revenge-minded socialite, Carol Baldwin (Dixie Collins), he goes to “the Orient,” where apparently all medical staff is non-Asian. While there he has a series operations. The result of all this is that he now has the power of sight in the dark as green vision, which we only get to see in use once.

Apparently without any kind of training, he dons the black clothes, grabs a gun, and goes after the bad guys.

You may have noticed my snarky under tone in this. There is a reason for that: simply put, this is a bad film. No, not “so bad it’s good” bad, just bad. The acting is atrocious, that’s true, but the overall fault lies squarely on Trevor Payer, the writer, and especially on Scott Patrick, the director. The dialog is terrible; in fact, there were three separate places where I said what the characters were going to say before they did. It’s that predictable. There are way too many holes in the story, such as lack of training as I mentioned earlier, that the people are unbelievable, and there is absolutely no sense of character development, even with more exposition than action (mostly through first-person narration in trying to sound like, well, Spillane).

The film, which is a mere 80 minutes, with proper editing should have been about half of that. For example, a woman is chased by two muggers down an alleyway for nearly 4 minutes. There’s another scene where a shot on a nurse talking in stilted dialog is seen in a (purposefully) fuzzy unedited one-shot talking to a doctor and not really saying much for another few minutes. Then there’s the 80 shots fired in a short distance back and forth before anyone falls. And that includes a machine gun.

There is no nudity, but there is a four-person bikini contest where they prance back and forth in front of the camera for a reaaaaaally long time while the sound of clapping (obviously looped as you can hear the break) is annoyingly constant. There’s also no blood or SFX despite the occasional shooting, or even redness on the face or eyes of Quinn moments after acid is supposedly thrown in his face. The only effects, other than the cartoonish city overview during the credits, are the flash of the gun muzzles and the sound of the gunfire repeated aud nauseum. Though there is the one time they miss it and the gun just clicks, which made me laugh. No, it was not running out of bullets, because the next shot fires as it is supposed to do.

If this is going to be a franchise, I can tell you now that I am not going to watch any of the sequels.

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