The Devil Bat

The Devil Bat is a 1940 black-and-white American horror film produced by Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) and directed by Jean Yarborough.[2][3] The film stars Bela Lugosi[4] along with Suzanne Kaaren, Guy Usher, Yolande Mallott and the comic team of Dave O'Brien and Donald Kerr as the protagonists. It was the first horror film from PRC.[5]

The Devil Bat
Directed byJean Yarborough
Produced byJack Gallagher
Written byJohn Thomas Neville
Based onoriginal story by
George Bricker
StarringBela Lugosi
Music byDavid Chudnow
(musical director)
CinematographyArthur Martinelli, A.S.C.
Edited byHolbrook N. Todd
Distributed byProducers Releasing Corporation
Release date
  • December 13, 1940 (1940-12-13)[1]
Running time
68 minutes
CountryUnited States

Although described as a sequel, PRC's 1946 film Devil Bat's Daughter has no actors, characters or close plot elements from the 1940 film.



All Heathville loved Dr. Paul Carruthers...the doctor found time to conduct certain private experiments — weird, terrifying experiments.

Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi), a chemist and physician in the small town of Heathville, is offered a $5,000 bonus from his employers for his contributions to the company, a pittance compared to the million dollars in income the company earned from his work. (His employers argue that he took a buyout early in the company's history instead of retaining his partnership stake.) Embittered and insulted, he seeks revenge and develops a system in which ordinary bats are enlarged to massive size, training them to be drawn to a new, pungent aftershave he is testing. He cleverly distributes the lotion to his enemies as a "test" product.

Once they have applied the lotion, the chemist then releases his Devil Bats in the night, targeting the families of his employer's owners. The bats succeed in attacking and killing one of the owners and two of his sons. A hot shot reporter from the Chicago Register, Johnny Layton (Dave O'Brien) gets assigned by his editor (Arthur Q. Bryan) to cover and help solve the murders. He and his bumbling photographer "One-Shot" McGuire (Donald Kerr) begin to unwind the mystery with some comic sidelights.

In the climactic closing scene, Layton dumps a sample of the aftershave on Carruthers, leading the bat to attack and kill its own master. Mary, the last surviving member of her family, runs into Johnny's arms.



PRC was a young studio when it planned to enter the horror film genre, which had been neglected by the major studios during 1937 and 1938. Lugosi was beginning a comeback when he signed a contract on October 19, 1940, with PRC's Sigmund Neufeld to star in the Poverty Row studio's first horror film.[6]

The shooting of the film began a little more than one week later.[7] PRC was known for shooting its films quickly and cheaply, but for endowing them with a plentiful amount of horror,[8] and The Devil Bat established this modus operandi.[6]

Current status

Following its theatrical release, The Devil Bat fell into public domain and since the advent of home video, has been released in countless truncated, poorly edited video and DVD editions.

In 1990, the film was restored from original 35mm elements by Bob Furmanek and released on laserdisc by Lumivision. In 2008, Furmanek supplied his original elements to Legend Films, which performed a new restoration and also created a computer-colorized version. Both the restored black-and-white and colorized versions were subsequently released on DVD.[9]

In 2013, The Devil Bat was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber under its Kino Classics label.[10]


The film was re-released in 1945 on a double bill with Man Made Monster. The Los Angeles Times described the duo as "two of the scariest features on the market."[11]

In the book Poverty Row Horrors! (1993), Tom Weaver judges The Devil Bat as one of Lugosi's best films for the poverty row studios.[12]


In 2015 Indie filmmaker Ted Moehring directed the sequel Revenge of the Devil Bat,[13] which stars Lynn Lowry, Ruby Larocca and veteran actors Gary Kent, John Link, Dick Dyszel, George Stover and Conrad Brooks.[14]

See also


  1. Weaver, Tom (1993). "The Devil Bat (PRC, 1940)" in Poverty Row Horrors! Monogram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-89950-756-5. p. 14.
  2. "Horror Pictures on Barry Screen" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 30, 1941, p.24)
  3. "FILMS of the WEEK / QUEEN—"The Devil Bat"" (The Sunday Morning Star, Wilmington, Delaware, February 9, 1941, p.34)
  4. "RITZ—"Devil Bat," starring Bela Lugosi, and running Monday through Thursday, is an ingenious story about a vengeance-crazed genius who produces a deadly and terrifying species of killer-bat to wreak revenge on those he thinks oppress him" (Reading Eagle, February 16, 1941, p.16 / captioned photo of Lugosi holding a skull)
  5. The Devil Bat at TCM
  6. Weaver (1993). p. 15.
  7. Weaver (1993). p. 17.
  8. Weaver, Tom (1993). "Introduction" in Poverty Row Horrors! Monogram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-89950-756-5. p. xiii-xiv.
  9. Footnote, DVD Talk review
  10. Footnote, DVD Savant review of August 27, 2013
  11. Two Chillers Screened G K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Dec 1945: A5.
  12. Weaver (1993). p. 19.
  13. Revenge of the Devil Bat Winging its Way to Fans
  14. Revenge of the Devil Bat, Sequel to the 1940 horror movie The Devil Bat.

Further reading

  • Weaver, Tom (1993). "The Devil Bat (PRC, 1940)" in Poverty Row Horrors! Monogram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-89950-756-5. pp. 14–25.
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