A special breed of bat has been created in a lab and let loose on a small Texas town. They're smarter than normal bats and more aggressive. And unlike normal bats, they're omnivorous. They work in community to take down prey and are capable of thriving in any climate. Why were they created? Why would science do such a thing?
Says Dr. Alexander McCabe, their creator, "Because I'm a scientist. That's what we do. We make everything a little better."
They're muscular and vicious -- imagine the Zuni warrior from Trilogy of Terror, except with wide, leather wings. And yes, they're that ridiculous looking too. One thing they do have going for them: eyes. The film has two very effective moments in which a large flock of them all turn their golden, glinting eyes towards a new threat. The effect is paralyzing.
There's some nice camera work. The opening scene, which features a young couple getting devoured in their Buick, ends with a slick aerial tracking shot. As the frame passes over the car, you can see bat wings flapping through torn holes in the convertible top. This shot is bathed in the flashing red lights of a railroad crossing.
Additionally, the Texas scenery is gorgeous and the colors of the landscape pop very nicely on the screen --- lovely brown rock walls and lush greenery abound.
So why was Bats so lame? Well, it sort of begins and ends with this guy:
I look at that face and all I can think of is how badly I want to punch him in the mouth. As Sheriff Emmit Kimsey, he delivers every single line with a, "You can't fool me, I'm a Texan," kind of vibe. This wouldn't be such a problem if he had anything of import to say.
Case in point: Early on while shuttling Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer from the Saw movies) into town he asks what she does for a living.
Dr. Casper: Wildlife zoology with a specialty in Chiroptera
Sheriff Kimsey: (Texas-know-it-all-y) Uh-huh
Casper: Bats, sheriff. I work with bats.
Sheriff Kimsey: Bats…Uh-huh…So does that make you a bat-ologist?
No, idiot, it makes her a wildlife zoologist with a specialty in Chiroptera, like she just fucking said 5 seconds ago.
The good guy team consists of a bat expert and her assistant (Leon Robinson - Above the Rim), a representative from the CDC (Carlos Jacott! - Kicking and Screaming), and a labratory scientist (Bob Gunton - Shawshank Redemption). As the certifiably dumbest person in the room, Kimsey always seems to have something sassy, and of little consequence, to add to the conversation. His outbursts are peppered with Texas idioms like, "Christ on a sidecar!"
Tragically, his part could have been edited out completely with few significant changes to the film. Maybe some computer experts could re-do Bats deleting all reference to Sheriff Kimsey from the entire film. It could be like those guys that made a version of Phantom Menace without Jar-Jar Binks. See? Science does make things a little better.