The Devil Bat

The Devil Bat
Directed by Jean Yarborough
Produced by Jack Gallagher
Written by John Thomas Neville
Based on original story by George Bricker
Starring Bela Lugosi
Suzanne Kaaren
Dave O'Brien
Music by David Chudnow
(musical director)
Cinematography Arthur Martinelli, A.S.C.
Edited by Holbrook N. Todd
Producers Releasing Corporation
Distributed by Producers Releasing Corporation
Release dates
  • December 13, 1940 (1940-12-13)[1]
Running time
68 minutes
Country United States
Language English
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]

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.


The story involves a small town cosmetic company chemist Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi) who is upset at his wealthy employers, because he feels they have denied him his due share of company success. To get revenge, he breeds giant bats. He then conditions them to kill those wearing a special after-shave lotion he has concocted. 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, which kill his two former partners and three members of their families. A hot shot big city reporter, Johnny Layton (Dave O'Brien) gets assigned by his editor 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. The mad chemist is done in by his own shaving lotion, and by his own creation—the dreaded Devil Bat.


Lugosi in The Devil Bat
The "devil bat" in Dr. Carruthers's laboratory


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 come-back 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, who 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]


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."[10]

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.[11]


2015 the Indie filmmaker Ted Moehring, directed the sequel Revenge of the Devil Bat,[12] which stars Lynn Lowry, Ruby Larocca and the veteran actorys Gary Kent, John Link, Dick Dyszel, George Stover and Conrad Brooks.[13]

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 specie 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. 1 2 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. Two Chillers Screened G K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Dec 1945: A5.
  11. Weaver (1993). p. 19.
  12. Revenge of the Devil Bat Winging its Way to Fans
  13. Revenge of the Devil Bat, Sequel to the 1940 horror movie The Devil Bat.

Further reading

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