"Bat Men of Africa" is now a feature out of its time, derived from the 1936 15-chapter Republic serial "Darkest Africa," its 1966 copyright a clear indication of television's voracious appetite for programming during the late 60s (AIP's TV branch hired Texas filmmaker Larry Buchanan to film several color remakes of some of their black and white 50s titles). Playing himself, world famous animal trainer Clyde Beatty was no stranger to movies, having previously done the serial "The Lost Jungle," while this plot sounds like any number of Burroughs Tarzan tales of 'lost cities,' with little Manuel King as rather chubby jungle boy Baru instead of the Ape Man. Beatty offers his help in assisting Baru, trying to rescue his adult sister from the clutches of wicked High Priest Dagna (Lucien Prival) of the lost city of Joba, who dubs her 'Goddess of the Golden Bat' in an attempt to gain absolute power. Dagna's henchmen are billed as 'Tiger Men' and 'Bat Men,' the latter winged creatures who carry spears for attack, the title characters in this ersatz feature; add a pair of minor villains searching for jewels in Joba and that sums everything up rather nicely. Serials being repetitive in nature are acceptable in weekly doses, but this film, although fun to a point, suffers in its dizzying array of captures and near fatal escapes. With serials now easily available on home video, these features have long since been forgotten, particularly those like this one that were issued directly to television ("Missile Monsters" and "Satan's Satellites" were a theatrical double bill). "Bat Men of Africa" was shown twice on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater, on July 14 1973 (preceding second feature 1938's "The Black Doll") and Apr 1 1978 (following first feature 1940's "Chamber of Horrors").
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