The Bat (1959) - dir. Crane Wilbur; starring Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead
It is films like this that present the slasher in non-supernatural terms. Where Michael Myers kept coming back from the dead, the Bat was mortal. When the premise of this film is explained on the back, images of a shadowy figure who is never revealed by the camera comes to mind, not what actually appears in the film. A man with a solid black mask over his face and gloves with sharp claws on the ends of the fingers in order to rip out the throats of his victims. Truly a spark of genius on the part of the director to be able to show the villain, in full, without giving away his identity. There are some truly well done scenes in the film, unfortunately the often hokey murder mystery story propping the film up plays like an elementary game of Clue. Vincent Price is the most authentic character in the movie and that is simply because he is being himself: creepy!
Overall, this is not a bad way to spend an hour and a half, but do not plan on being scared so much as entertained by the cheesiness of the acting and the occasional scene that does create a dark, sinister feeling. A much more skilled director could have made the whole film dark, but, as was often the case with movies during this time, the comedic flair often won out. The one distinguishing factor about this film compared to others during this time was the truly strong female characters who were not afraid of facing The Bat. They had no use for running of the stairs only to get murdered as was often the case in the slasher genre.