"All Heathville loved Dr. Paul Carruthers,
their kindly village doctor.
No one suspected that in his home
laboratory on a hillside over-
looking the magnificent estate
of Martin Heath, the doctor
found time to conduct certain
private experiments — weird,
The story involves a small town cosmetic company chemist Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi) who is upset at his wealthy employers, because he feels they have denied him his due share of company success. To get revenge, he breeds giant bats. He then conditions them to kill those wearing a special after-shave lotion he has concocted. He cleverly distributes the lotion to his enemies as a "test" product.
Once they have applied the lotion, the chemist then releases his Devil Bats in the night, which kill his two former partners and three members of their families. A hot shot big city reporter, Johnny Layton (Dave O'Brien) gets assigned by his editor to cover and help solve the murders. He and his bumbling photographer "One-Shot" McGuire (Donald Kerr) begin to unwind the mystery with some comic sidelights. The mad chemist is done in by his own shaving lotion, and by his own creation—the dreaded Devil Bat.Bela Lugosi as Dr. Paul Carruthers
Suzanne Kaaren as Mary Heath
Dave O'Brien as Johnny Layton
Guy Usher as Henry Morton
Yolande Mallott as Maxine
Donald Kerr as "One-Shot" McGuire
Edward Mortimer as Martin Heath
Gene O'Donnell as Don Morton
Alan Baldwin as Tommy Heath
John Ellis as Roy Heath
Arthur Q. Bryan as Joe McGinty
Hal Price as Chief Wilkins
John Davidson as Prof. Raines
Billy Griffith as Coroner
Wally Rairdon as Walter King
PRC was a young studio when it planned to enter the horror film genre, which had been neglected by the major studios during 1937 and 1938. Lugosi was beginning a come-back when he signed a contract on October 19, 1940, with PRC's Sigmund Neufeld to star in the Poverty Row studio's first horror film.
The shooting of the film began a little more than one week later. PRC was known for shooting its films quickly and cheaply, but for endowing them with a plentiful amount of horror, and The Devil Bat established this modus operandi.
Following its theatrical release, The Devil Bat fell into public domain and since the advent of home video, has been released in countless truncated, poorly edited video and DVD editions.
In 1990, the film was restored from original 35mm elements by Bob Furmanek and released on laserdisc by Lumivision. In 2008, Furmanek supplied his original elements to Legend Films, which performed a new restoration and also created a computer-colorized version. Both the restored black-and-white and colorized versions were subsequently released on DVD.
The film was re-released in 1945 on a double bill with Man Made Monster. The Los Angeles Times described the duo as "two of the scariest features on the market."
In the book Poverty Row Horrors! (1993), Tom Weaver judges The Devil Bat as one of Lugosi's best films for the poverty row studios.
In 2015 Indie filmmaker Ted Moehring directed the sequel Revenge of the Devil Bat, which stars Lynn Lowry, Ruby Larocca and veteran actors Gary Kent, John Link, Dick Dyszel, George Stover and Conrad Brooks.