Fangs (2002)

Fangs (2002)

It’s feeding time!

A group of genetically altered bats are freed from a university laboratory and set out to prey upon the population of the small town of Scottsville. It’s up to a local detective and animal control officer to stop them before the big town dance where an unscrupulous local land developer is hoping to attract potential out-of-town investment for his housing development.

 

It is clear that some higher power does not want anyone to make decent films about killer bats. As if Bats wasn’t enough (and its atrocious sequel), Vampire Bats was awful and The Roost opted to focus more on zombies than bats, we get another mediocre ‘monster on the loose’ flick in Fangs. Besides which, have bats ever been scary? Their cinematic representations from the past range from the camp 60s Batman TV series to black and white films with Bela Lugosi and fake plastic bats back in the 30s and 40s. Yes, they are associated with witchcraft and black magic and all of that nonsense. But bats on their own? Heck, even the dreaded ‘vampire’ bats are about as big as our thumbs and attacks on humans are rare, with the creatures preferring pigs and cows for their blood. Even then they don’t kill the creatures they’re leeching from. So quite how bats have got this weird fear factor around them is beyond me. They’re not scary in the slightest.

Fangs seems to have taken this concept to the ultimate degree. Knowing that bats aren’t truly scary, the film proceeds to prove that point at almost every opportunity. The film attempts to infuse some comedy into the mix with predictably poor consequences. The horror suffers from lack of focus and the comedy was probably funny to the writer and his best mates and no one else. Fangs tries to make itself funny with a slew of one-liners being thrown around in an effort to make it family-friendly. The comedy just isn’t funny and, unless they really wanted to go down the spoof route and turn the whole film into a ridiculous charade, then this aspect should have been left well alone. It just dilutes down the horror elements, which were pretty diluted to begin with anyway.

Fangs boils down to the typical ‘monster on the loose but town has to remain open for some big event’ scenario which has plagued practically every monster horror film since Jaws first popularised the idea back in the mid-70s. It’s got the sneaky local businessman who will do anything to make sure that profit comes first. It’s got the resident local expert who helps out and inevitably saves the day. It’s got a female lead that has an antagonistic relationship with the lead male at first but eventually falls in love with him. It’s got plenty of unnecessary non-characters who populate the town and surrounding areas that have “bite me” stapled to their foreheads.

Reliable low budget horror actor Corbin Bernsen stars as the shady businessman Carl Hart and gets to chew plenty of scenery. He’s not given a lot to do as the slimy villain but he’s still one of the best bits of the film and his character isn’t totally overexposed to the audience.

Strangely for a film about killer vampire bats, there is little blood and most of the deaths occur off-screen without even a sniff of seeing some chewed up corpses. Without swearing (though correct me if I’m wrong) and being low key on the violence and aggression (and no nudity either), then I’m sure Fangs would make a great pre-school horror flick for kids not old enough to watch Friday the 13th or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Fans of this type of film have certain expectations when they sit down to watch these films but Fangs pulls the rug out from underneath and delivers nothing exploitative. In fact it delivers nothing of anything in all honesty, ending up a watered-down version of what could have been mildly entertaining if they’d pushed the right buttons.

 

If you think you know what to expect from Fangs, you’re almost right. Loads of clichés get churned out repeatedly and the film runs like clockwork. But there is little gore, little horror and not much fun to be had, which makes it still better than Bats.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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