LE VAMPIRE (1945)
aka The Vampire
Article 5268 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jean Painleve
Featuring Max Schreck
What it is: Science documentary on the vampire bat.
We learn how a vampire bat attacks its victims.
Jean Painleve was a film-maker who specialized in science documentaries, but his style showed a flair for surreal images, and I have to admit to being quite impressed at all the weird creatures on display and the sharp photography that allows us to see such detail. Max Schreck only appears in archive footage from NOSFERATU during a segment where the film-maker expresses little surprise that a creature like the vampire bat would inspire a human counterpart, though I do wonder if the bat was named after the monster or vice versa. The short opens with footage of a variety of strange creatures before it settles in on its study of the vampire bat and its feeding off a poor guinea pig. One of the odd touches of the short is the presence of some bawdy-sounding jazz music, and it makes the bat’s attack come off as some sort of bizarre mating ritual. Yes, it’s disturbing and a bit repellent, but it’s fascinating as well. The surreal air to the proceedings as well as the NOSFERATU footage are its main claim to its inclusion in the realm of fantastic cinema. And, like a few other animals, I can see the vampire bat being viewed as something of a monster.