Eye For Film >> Movies >> Attack Of The Bat Monsters (1999) Film Review
Attack Of The Bat Monsters
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
At Eye For Film, we often review features shot over the course of just two weeks. Very short films can sometimes be shot in a day, though more time is often needed for pick-ups. Is it possible to shoot a feature in just three days? Yes, insists producer Francis Gordon (Fred Ballard) – and he’s not the first to try. Kelly Greene’s film about the film-making process is inspired by the work of legendary producer Roger Corman and his ilk. Though it pokes fun at their often slapdash approach and the shoddiness of much of their output, it also reflects a degree of awe for the sheer force of will required to make films happen in this way.
Gordon has just finished shooting another film so he already has a crew and a number of actors in a rocky area of Californian desert that has doubled as countless prehistoric landscapes and alien worlds. It even has caves, pretty much obviating the need for set-building. With a rough story idea and a writer who’s prepared (or so he claims) to stay up every night preparing the next day’s shooting script, he sees no reason why he can’t make it happen. All he needs to do is persuade the various members of his team to comply – and he is nothing if not persuasive.
Of course, in order to make a movie, he needs a monster. This means having to deal with a specialist costume/prop man who is still unhappy with him after the unfortunate destruction of a past beloved creature in a disastrous film that nobody wants to discuss. He also needs some screaming women, easily obtained but, it turns out, rather more difficult to dress (top tip: anything will come unstuck from skin if left for three days until the top layer of cells falls off; soaking in hot water usually helps, so don’t try what these characters do at home). He needs a dramatic ending for his creature and, to ensure that audiences hear about his work, he wants to persuade his leading actress to go topless. This latter aspect might sound rather dispiriting in today’s climate, with more and more actresses discussing how they felt in such situations, but the humour here is not at the heroine’s expense – rather, it is focused on Gordon’s complete failure to make the scene work once she complies.
Plenty of other complications beset the production, not last the arrival of the next cast and crew scheduled to use the area, who disagree over when it was supposed to be free. Among them is a large group of actors dressed as Roman soldiers and spoiling for a fight. Gordon’s solution? To try and incorporate the ensuing conflicts into his film.
Although the jokes are a bit hit and miss (and you’ll definitely get more out of this is you already have a good knowledge of B-movie history), Greene’s film is made with the same exuberance and passion as Gordon’s. Its warmth and good humour make it easy to like and there’s a playfulness about it that keeps it engaging. In this new age when low budget filmmaking is once again in fashion, it’s likely to inspire a good number of audience members to get creative. Those wishing to do so should pay close attention to the warnings it contains.Reviewed on: 02 Mar 2018
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