The Film Detective
During the Silent Film era, Crane Wilbur was well known for his wide variety of works, namely The Perils of Pauline. But for horror enthusiasts, he’ll always be remembered for House of Wax. Before this film was ever made, he worked with Vincent Prince on The Bat, a crime-thriller.
The mini-documentary included in this release is a love letter to the auteur, and his relationship with this actor. After viewing the featurette that explains his influence on scary cinema, I think I’ll have to start looking at those films rarely spoken of today. Ballyhoo Motion Pictures presented a very convincing argument in why we must respect this filmmaker’s other works.
Also, one aspect of Wilbur’s direction which I like brings gangbusters to the silver screen. His contributions suggests he’s better than Alfred Hitchcock, and I’m sure many fans will argue this to their grave. But when there’s more to The Bat than meets the eye, what we must examine is where it ranks with the radio dramas of the era–which is thankfully included in this home video release. What’s presented here is a wonderful mystery–we’re not sure who this killer who wears a clawed glove like Freddie (Nightmare on Elm Street) is, We’re left guessing on why he’s stalking Cornelia van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) and her many guests.
The restoration is beautiful. Even upscaled to 4K on my home theatre setup, I was blown away at the grey scale presentation. I couldn’t find a grain or spec of dust.
Although this film is not one of Price’s finest, it deserves a place in any collection of this actor’s works. I recommend it more for the bonus material that’s included. The radio plays are a sweet touch. They encompass this talent’s efforts which I suspect brought him to the attention of Wilbur.
The written essay is a perfect companion because it focuses on The Bat as it’s changed throughout its various adaptations from story to play. One big reason why I love this work is that when it first screened, it accompanied Hammer Films’ The Mummy. I’m not old enough to have seen this pairing on the big screen, but I can only imagine the thrill of watching both.