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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nightwing (from ancient Indian myth to reality)
Nightwing has to be the best Horror/Adventure film I have ever seen. The main star is an Indian reservation law enforcement officer, Deputy Duran. His job and life around the desert reservation was always boring and uneventfull until people start dying from a particular cause in the form of both bites and plague. The old man, Abner, who was kind of like a godfather to...
Published on January 6, 2001 by mgoerndt

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ultimately dissappointing adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith's excellent book
This film was a problematic endeavor based on the far superior book. For whatever reason - perhaps because of the misguided criticism (it was a work of fiction after all) the author was taking from some academics - the Hopis and Navajos of Martin Cruz Smith's book were changed to fictional Nation names for the film. This somewhat undermines the audience's connection...
Published 24 months ago by Calder


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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nightwing (from ancient Indian myth to reality), January 6, 2001
By 
This review is from: Nightwing [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Nightwing has to be the best Horror/Adventure film I have ever seen. The main star is an Indian reservation law enforcement officer, Deputy Duran. His job and life around the desert reservation was always boring and uneventfull until people start dying from a particular cause in the form of both bites and plague. The old man, Abner, who was kind of like a godfather to Duran, has babbled about an ancient Indian curse that was to end the world. When he is killed by the very thing that he told about and many others keep dying, Duran has to spring in to action with the assistance of a strange British scientist who has dedicated his life to the extermination of the problem, Vampire Bats! This is an extremely exciting movie which also carries valuable information about the nature of beliefs and customs of the desert indian tribes. I would recommend this movie to anyone who can appreciate a true classic!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally on DVD!, May 23, 2011
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
This is a dvd-on-demand from Sony, and they did a good job on the transfer. The widescreen image is colorful and clear (no 'washout'),looking better than it probably ever will (I noticed very little if any dirt or scratches), especially during the evening and morning shots out in the desert (e.g. Canyon de Chelly). Since this is a bare-bones release, there isn't even a scene selection option, though there is a good trailer (not the 1979 teaser but a lengthier trailer). The sound is a good balance of the melancholy Henry Mancini score, voices and some shrill sound effects in all your TV speakers during the bat attack scenes. It is a shame that they didn't get the running commentary by star Nick Mancuso and producer Martin Ransahoff (which is available for listening on the Internet), but I'm thankful to Sony/Columbia Pictures for finally making this available, and it's probably not going to get any better than this unless it happens to find its way to Blu-Ray. If you're a fan of this film, then get it while you can.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BE AFRAID OF THE NIGHT, BE VERY AFRAID!!, November 28, 2005
By 
RBSProds "rbsprods" (Deep in the heart of Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Nightwing [VHS] (VHS Tape)
FIVE STARS. One of my favorite Horror/SciFi movies. A sensational low budget movie that begins with a farming problem facing an indian reservation that quickly becomes the basis for a great, unpretentious horror movie, without all of the CGI and 'wire-kung fu' nonsense that predominates most SciFi. It stays on target with no diversions. The plot really hangs together well and the story is similar to "Alien" where the characters are so excellently drawn by the script and the actors, that the dangerous circumstances really mean something to the audience when the characters are threatened. With terrific performances by Nick Mancuso as Deputy Youngman Duran, Kathryn Harrold as the love interest, Strother Martin in a hoot of a role, Stephen Macht, portraying Walker Chee, as good as he's ever been, and David Warner in a totally arresting and surprising role, director Arthur Hiller gets a ton of mileage from the cast. When nature, science, love, greed, and Native American folklore and religion collide things really get out of hand fast, with Duran in the middle of things. George Clutesi deserves special mention for his portrayal of Abner, a central character who is Mancuso's native American spiritual guide. The sound track has mesmerized me since 1979 when the movie came out: totally nailed by Henry Mancini (and sitting on my 'best of the best' cassette tape). The opening sequence is beautifully photographed especially if you love the desert southwest as I do.

If you haven't read the other reviews yet, stop now and see the movie. Hopefully, you haven't read the spoilers. Let the movie take you on the journey. I think you'll enjoy it, if horror and SciFi are your main interest. Pop some popcorn, grab some sodas and enjoy this delightful romp!! I watch the tape often and have ordered the DVD for a permanent keeper. Five Stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ultimately dissappointing adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith's excellent book, August 27, 2012
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
This film was a problematic endeavor based on the far superior book. For whatever reason - perhaps because of the misguided criticism (it was a work of fiction after all) the author was taking from some academics - the Hopis and Navajos of Martin Cruz Smith's book were changed to fictional Nation names for the film. This somewhat undermines the audience's connection between the movie's characters and their Southwest surroundings right from the start. Worse, however, was the decision to cast actors of European/American descent to play several roles that could have gone to American Indian actors. For some reason this is still occasionally done with indigenous characters, and it remains a bizarre mistake. While Stephen Macht and Nick Mancuso turned in fine performances, actual indigenous actors would have been much more appropriate. . .even casting unknowns. David Warner also did ok, but some of his dialogue was amped up too much for the film and created a character that is occasionally over the top. The early meeting with Youngman in the Hogan seemed particularly poorly executed and needlessly changed from the dialogue of the book. Many scenes also feel rushed.

The bat effects in the film are well known and not for their strengths. Carlo Rambaldi had a solid reputation at the time he was chosen to helm the effects for this film, but for whatever reason he dropped the ball entirely in this picture. The effects range from mediocre to bad, even for the time. The film came out when critics were chomping at the bit to tear up anything reminiscent of "Jaws" - so the weak effects provided additional fodder. On the bright side, Henry Mancini's soundtrack is quite good and atmospheric. Arthur Hiller's direction, while unlikely to win any awards for the film, was not as bad as some critics claimed. George Clutesi brought a desperately needed indigenous presence to the film and executed his limited character with talent. While disappointing, this was still much better than the unrelated, horrendous film "Bats" that came out twenty years later. The "manufactured on demand" DVD-R from Amazon is a nice print of Nightwing. Visually the film looks great on the disc. My three stars are based on both the visual quality of the DVD-R version and the strong points of the film itself.

Very few bad films deserve a second chance, but if you are familiar with the book Nightwing, you are probably aware of that story's untapped potential. I would like to see this film remade, with an even closer adherence to the storyline while still set in the time it was written, with more indigenous actors in the key roles. Improved special effects certainly wouldn't hurt. It isn't likely to happen, but it could prove a lot more interesting than much of the nonsense coming out nowadays.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bad plague carrying bats attack Indian reservation movie, May 18, 2003
By 
This review is from: Nightwing [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The meaning of the title of this 1979 film becomes clear when we learn that an Indian reservation in New Mexico has been invaded by vampire bats. This situation is complicated by the fact that, in the best tradition of rampant stereotypes, there is oil underneath the tribe's sacred burial grounds and a soulless oil company is out to get it no matter what. The oil is actually in a cave, which is how we work the bats into the story, because companies drilling for oil rarely hit bats. Standing in the way of progress, besides all those bat puppets, is Youngman Duran (Nick Mancuso), a reservation cop, who is basically the only person in the film with both brains and ethics. David Warner is Phillip Payne, the bat expert who shows up to provide the characters and the audience with any and all necessary exposition until the climax, when he comes up with a plan for saving the day because these might be vampire bats, but instead of sucking blood they are spreading Bubonic plague.
Based on the novel by Martin Cruz Smith, the script by Steve Shagan and Bud Shrake is fairly faithful to the original story and wants to evince political consciousness, but resorts to stand Hollywood conceptions about what life is like on the reservation, which is most painful when it portrays the debate between those who want to preserve tradition and those who want to build modern things like hospitals. I remember when "Nightwing" was being filmed in New Mexico, mostly up around Laguna Pueblo and the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. Flavio Martinez, a kid I went to high school with, and who played the part in a forgettable Disney movie that has never been released on video, had a bit part in this film as Isla Laloma. Directed by Arthur Hiller, "Nightwing" also features Kathryn Harrold as the pretty woman who has to be rescued from the bats, Staphen Macht as the Indian who argues for progress, and Strother Martin as a crazy old coot. However, overall the locations are a lot better than the acting or the special effects.
One of the ways "Nightwing" harkens back to the good old days of horror movies, besides the rubber bats, is the way they promoted this film. Consider all the taglines this film had: "In the dead of night they come - Swift - Silent - Savage," "The day belongs to man. The night is theirs," and "What do you fear most - the dark - or something that waits in the dark," all have this inherent ambiguity that could be referring to the Indians as well as the bats. But then "The bats of hell let loose upon the earth" pretty much gives the game away. But it always a bad sign when the taglines are better than the movie. I was going to say that somebody somebody was going to use computers to make a really good horde of monster bats movie, but Louis Morneau tried to do that in the 1999 film "Bats" and it is on the AFI's list of "Bottom 100" movies. "Nightwing" is slightly better, due almost entirely to Warner's performance, which remains the film's only redeeming quality beyond Kathryn Harrold's looks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD video as good as I rembered in the theater., February 25, 2014
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
This movie is a vintage collector's item in the Native American Movie genre. This video was very a hard video to find. But thanks to Amazon, I was able to get a hold of a quality copy. The video and audio quality onto DVD format is superb. There was no deletion or alteration of the video on a DVD format. I am satisfied with the end product.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story!, August 24, 2011
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
Mysterious and exciting to the end! The final scenes are nail-biting! I would recommend this movie to just about anyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bats without a belfry., August 16, 2014
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
This is less a horror movie about bats than it is a film about greed and the willingness to do anything to anyone in order to gain untold wealth (in this case oil). The main players are few, some more interesting than others. The villain of the piece is Walker Chee (Stephen Macht) who abuses his power as a tribal council chairman egregiously (never getting his just deserts). His plan is to drill for oil on sacred land. The only person standing in his way is Deputy Youngman Duran (Nick Mancuso). The deputy has trouble enough of his own to worry about though, dead animals are being discovered low on blood, with unusual bite marks, and the prevailing odor of ammonia in the air. Before you can say vampire bats, bat expert Phillip Payne (David Warner) shows up ranting about the necessary extinction of the devilish creatures. As if that wasn't enough, the poor deputy also has to contend with a girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold) who's just announced she's leaving town, and he has angry medicine man Abner (George Clutesi) to deal with (the old man has just confessed he's cast a spell that will end the world.......and then he dies).

The unfortunately problem with this movie is that the elements of `horror' don't arrive until quite late in the feature. We see evidence of the bat attacks but not the bats until a night sequence, when a small group of missionaries is singing around the campfire. It's a scene worth waiting for but far too little, far too late, and soon enough the movie goes back to dealing with more mundane matters. The bats are not the featured players in this storyline; they come off as an afterthought. Still, there are wonderful performances by Strother Martin and David Warner to enjoy. And the ending belatedly helped to bring the focus back to the bats, even if only for a few minutes.

It's an interesting movie but by no means could you ever consider it a horror movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An old favorite, June 10, 2014
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SA (Asheville NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
One of my favorite movies, made from my favorite book from one of my favorite authors (Martin Cruz Smith), plus it stars Nick Mancuso in his gorgeous prime. How could I not love it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Been looking for Nightwing on DVD for 10 yrs., April 19, 2014
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This review is from: Nightwing (DVD)
The picture and sound is crisp and clear, 1st time I have seen the movie in over 20 years and still enjoy this movie.
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Nightwing
Nightwing by Arthur Hiller (DVD - 2011)
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