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Bats have always had a special place in our nightmares. From Halloween legend to Brain Stoker, bats have long been associated with gothic terror and insidious evil. In BATS, a virus makes the bats highly intelligent and insatiably carnivorous. As Sheila says after her first confrontation with the mutated bats, "Every misconception about hats is there in their eyes. Every nightmare I had as a little girl. They're all coming true." It is as if the bats in this film finally behave exactly as myth has taught us our worse than our darkest fears.

According to The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears and Anxieties, folklore has traditionally linked bats with black magic, torment and madness. Bats were often thought to be ghosts or agents of witches. A common myth regarding bats is that they are attracted to women's hair, and it was said that once entangled, they could only be removed by being cut out by a man. Their strange appearance and proclivity for the dark spurred their status as an ominous symbol. Surprisingly, there is no formal phobia attributed to bats; it is as if our fear of bats can be taken for granted.

Lou Diamond Phillips understands more about bats after working on the movie, but concedes that they're still frightening. "I think it's seems unnatural to us to have mammals that fly. You look at bunnies and think, oh, how cute, but you don't get the same reaction from bats. They fly, they move strangely on the ground. and they're nocturnal, which gives them an air of mystery as well." Phillips recalls a scene of a fruit bat in THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) with Vincent Price. Dina Meyer agrees "anything - and especially bats -- that flies down out of the sky and invades our personal space is creepy.

In the film, two of the world's most astonishing species of bats - the Flying Fox - are genetically altered and spread the virus as the leaders of the bat colony. Flying Foxes, a species of fruit bat found chiefly in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, can be as large as a small child and have a wingspan of six feet. The spectacle of such creatures arouses the curiosity of the people of Gallup. and despite explicit warnings, they gather in the streets at dusk. Their underestimation of these creatures, however, is soon dispelled -- with gruesome consequences.

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