FrightFest Premiere: Reflecting on the Film’s Journey: A Conversation with ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS Filmmaker Kelly Greene
Join schlock impresario Francis Gordon as his intrepid crew attempt to shoot an impromptu monster movie in the three days left over from the film they’ve just wrapped. From the Saul Bass opening title homage to its highly authentic, comic evocation of 1950s’ grade-Z grind house, this was lost when it was made in 1999. But ace restorer Mark Rance (who brought Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells to FrightFest 2010) found it and has lovingly refurbished it under writer/director Kelly Greene’s supervision.
Ahead of the official World Premiere of ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018, nearly two decades after it was shot, writer / director Kelly Greene reflects on the film’s long and winding journey, reveals his Christmas movie plans and his inter-dimensional monster creations bent on re-claiming the Earth…
How did ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS come about?
The idea for ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS was generated from serendipitous research into 1950s sci-fi lore for my Master's thesis on post-war Universal science-fiction films. A.I.P. and Roger Corman really stood out. I was struck by Corman's ruthless efficiency, such as using car headlights when generators failed during night shooting; his conflicts with Paul Blaisdell, Paul Birch and method actors; Susan Cabot almost suffocating during the climax to WASP WOMAN; Corman's symbiotic relationships with Beverly Garland, Jack Nicholson, Chuck Griffith, Francis Ford Coppola, ad infinitum. Most remarkable to me was Corman's repeated M.O. of shooting a second film with leftover sets and actors on contract after wrapping early on BUCKET OF BLOOD, LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, and THE RAVEN, which resulted in, respectively, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA, and THE TERROR.
The film is full of comic evocation of 1950s’ grade-Z grindhouse. Which films particularly inspired you?
For the black-and-white movie being produced in the film. I borrowed generously from ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS and IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. But there are numerous Easter eggs throughout BAT MONSTERS for history buffs, designed to pay tribute to different aspects of 50s sci-fi. John Carradine's penchant for Shakespeare, wardrobe mishaps on the set of THE ASTOUNDING SHE MONSTER, Lon Chaney Jr.'s drinking woes, Hazel Court's claims of nude scenes shot for European market – many, many others. The dancers' encounter with super adhesive tape was actually a story I stole from a gal that worked at a Texas Renaissance Festival.
When was the film first screened?
We shot the film in Super 16MM but we couldn't afford to cut the negative for a film print, so I edited the film on BetaSP which is standard definition video. It premiered in L.A. at the Dances With Films Festival, in the summer of 2000 and won the Grand Jury for Best Feature. Corman's Concorde-New Horizon and Arrow Entertainment both liked the movie and offered finishing funds, 30,000 dollars, to cut the negative for a 35MM and/or a DigiBeta master. Remember that format? I turned them both down, hoping to do a straight sale of the film. Remember, those were the days of million dollar deals for no-name films like CLERKS, THE BROTHERS McMULLEN and EL MARIACHI. I just wanted to make my money back! I also turned down Troma. At the time, I was getting requests for VHS screeners from Miramax, Palm Pictures and several smaller distributors.