Monday, March 25, 2013

The Many Bloodlines of "The Bat" For Your Old School Horror Campaign

 The Bat is play that has weaved its way through the folk lore of America like a cancer. The play concerns not a hero but a killer looking for his ill gotten gain from the jaws of Hell itself.
 According to wiki: 
 The film is based on the 1920 mystery play The Bat, written by Avery Hopwood and Mary Roberts Rinehart.

The Bat premiered as a Broadway play on August 23, 1920, at the Morosco Theatre in New York City. The melodrama mystery was produced by Wagenhals and Collin Kemper, who also staged the show. The play closed in September 1922 after 867 performances.
Two Broadway revivals of The Bat soon followed. The first of these opened on May 31, 1937, at the Majestic Theatre, and closed that June after just 18 performances. The second of these opened on June 20, 1953, at the National Theatre, and closed on February 7, 1953, after 23 performances.

The first version of the play was filmed in 1926 and has many of the elements of the hit play intact.
The second version of the film according to wiki :"
Director Roland West remade his film four years later in 1930 as The Bat Whispers, which starred Chester Morris and Una Merkel."

The plot remains the same throughout the films and the original play(well mostly with slight variations and twists as well as turns on the theme.)
The plot according to Wiki: 
A mysterious criminal by the name of "The Bat" eludes police and then finally announces his retirement to the country, while a wealthy Cornelia Van Gorder takes up residence in the estate of a famous banker. Along with her maid Lizzie, her niece Dale, and a bank teller disguised as a gardener, she is terrorized by a series of strange events seemingly set in motion by the mysterious bat. Possible suspects include a doctor, an elderly police lieutenant, a butler, a handyman, and a big-city cop.
Here is a trailer of  "The Bat Whispers" cut into the style of the Dark Knight Rises and it illustrates where I'm going with this.
 My favorite version is the 1959 film with Vincent Price and 
Agnes Moorehead
Agnes Moorehead was no stranger to the world of the macab and eerie in her own right. She was a star of the Orson Wells Mercury Theater and was a character actress of no small repute with numerous plays,radio dramas, film and television credits to her name before the days of "Bewitched".


The Plot According to Wiki : 

Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) is a mystery author who lives in a town terrorized by a mysterious murderer known only as "The Bat". The Bat is said to be a man with no face who murders women at night by ripping out their throats with steel claws. Early in the film, The Bat enters Van Gorder's house and releases a bat, which bites van Gorder's maid Lizzy (Lenita Lane). With Lizzy in a panic, fearing she may now have contracted "the rabies", an outbreak of which local papers have reported, Van Gorder calls her doctor, Dr Malcolm Wells (Vincent Price), who is conducting research on bats.
Meanwhile, the whole town is searching for a million-dollar stash of looted bank securities that were recently stolen. Dr. Wells discovers the location of the treasure when the thief confides in him. Wells then murders the thief in cold blood, presumably so that he can take the treasure for himself, which he believes to be hidden in van Gorder's house.
A series of break-ins and murders by The Bat brings the local chief of detectives, Andy Anderson (Gavin Gordon) to the Van Gorder house. The Bat then murders two people in the Van Gorder house, Mark Fleming (John Bryant) and Judy Hollander (Darla Hood). Anderson attempts to determine the identity of The Bat, suspecting both Wells and Van Gorder's new butler, Warner (John Sutton). Wells is removed from suspicion, however, when he is murdered by The Bat in his lab.
Miss Van Gorder cleverly manages to capture The Bat inside the secret room in her house.

The Full Film Right Here

Using The "Bat" For Your Old School Horror Campaign
Mining the bat is fun and easy. I've used these movies for horror games numerous times and every time the PC's never saw it coming. 
The "Bat" isn't a figure of good like a certain Dark Knight instead he's a figure of utter mystery and horror whose been operating  from 1920 till 1959. A murdering psychopathic killer taking lives and loot where he wants. He's a vile figure of horror in the grand tradition of the pulps.
A mysterious criminal by the name of "The Bat" eludes police and then finally announces his retirement to the country. This of course is a ruse and allows our "Bat" to move through the years with a series of grand thefts,flashy murders, and a trail of broken bodies in his wake. 
Van Gorder's house is a perfect megadungeon of horror right here in good old New England. This is only the latest in a series of lairs of the "Bat". In the Van Gorder's house I built in a series of underground passages, weird rooms, and horrid hellscapes for the players to stumble upon. 
Each and every time the "Bat" need to elude police another dupe was used to take the real one's place. 
For over 2 years the "Bat" appeared in The World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu, Kult as an awakened killer trying to shock people into dealing with the reality of Metropolis. 
I've used the Bat though out history as a sort of family tradition passed along bloodlines throughout history and every age. Dr Malcolm Wells doesn't acknowledge the family curse that stalks him and his kin through the ages but its there. Always lurking in the background and rearing its ugly head in every generation.
How many more will feel the claws of the bat that faceless killer who strikes from the shadows. A 
man with no face who murders women at night by ripping out their throats with steel claws.
 In Call of Cthulhu I created the Cult of the Bat. A family who worships " The Haunter In The Dark" taking their victims by ripping out their throats with steel claws. 
This same cult appeared in AD&D and OD&D quite often bedeviling a paladin in my games with regularity. 
 The sound track of the Bat is also very moody and eerie setting the stage for a great night's entertainment.

No comments:

Post a Comment