Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'The Flying Serpent' was better as 'The Devil Bat'

The Flying Serpent (1946)
Starring: George Zucco, Hope Kramer, Ralph Lewis, and James Metcalf
Director: Sam Newfield
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A demented archeologist (Zucco) uses a strange flying serpent that may or may not be the god Quetzalcoatl to protect an Aztec treasure and kill anyone who annoys him.

"The Flying Serpent" is, essentially, a remake of one of PRC's greatest horror flicks, "The Devil Bat", only with even less story logic. Once again, a mad scientist (here Zucco's archeologist instead of Lugosi's chemist) uses a flying monster to take out anyone who crosses him, up to and including the dashing romantic hero of the film. Instead of Lugosi's giant bat which is trained to attack anyone who is wearing a certain type of cologne, the creature in this film attacks anyone who is carrying one of its feathers.

Unfortunately, the one thing that doesn't have a parallel between the two pictures is the interesting performances, amusing script, and moody atmosphere from "The Devil Bat". The only non-bland aspect to this film is George Zucco's overblown performance as a melodramatic madman. It's almost a shame he didn't have a mustache, because he should have been twirling it. Even the creature--aside from the slightly silly, pseudo-supernatural ability it has to find its plucked feathers--is bland and uninteresting. Worse, the film has a slap-dash feel to it, as if only a minimum of effort was put into the script and the filming process... and nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the film's climax (which I won't detail due to my policy of trying to avoid spoiling a film).

If you want to a PRC film featuring a horror movie icon sending a flying monster to rip the throats out of anyone he doesn't like, go with "The Devil Bat". You'll be glad you did. (Although if you're a fan of this film, I'd love to hear your take on it, especially the ending.)


  1. My take's on the way at Carfax!
    I love this film!!! (I suppose really it all hinges on Zucco: if you love him almost as much as you love Bela, as I do, then he's good enough to carry virtually anything, and he's in prime form here. Although I would also add that the use of Aztec lore is fresh and unusual, and the serpent itself I thought a quite magnificent beast!)

  2. Zucco is indeed, as he is in most things, fun to watch in this film.

    While I agree with you about the use of Aztec lore, I'm not a fan of the flying serpent in this pic, except as an unintentional bit of comedy. (How does it stay aloft with those small wings and that massive beer-belly? :) )

  3. I like both films, and find both stars fun to watch, but I prefer Bela to Zucco. There's something about the way Bela pushes "the lotion" with an almost lascivious glee that cracks me up every time. BTW, I think the creature effects are very silly in both films, but I enjoy that.