It’s always a treat to see the lovely Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) in front of the camera, even if it’s in a throwaway rabid critter movie like Vampire Bats. She’s such a beguiling screen presence (and I love her so much) that she could bring grace, good humor and glamour to anything, including a car insurance commercial. Sorry Flo, your days are numbered.

Lawless stars as Maddy Rierdon, a plucky animal behavior specialist who teaches at Tate University, a campus nestled comfortably somewhere in Louisiana bayou country. A bunch of forgettable students (can we please invent some new collegiate stereotypes? I’m bored with these!) stir up the local bat population by blasting shitty techno music at weekend swamper parties. The helpful Maddy informs the authorities that the bats have mutated into double-fanged killers by feeding on insects that have hatched near a contaminated sewage treatment plant. (Like we give a shit, perfesser!) We the audience are treated to several scenes of bats wreaking havoc at parties (biting, flying, chewing, sucking, etc). For some reason, Brett Butler (the actress, not the ball player) and late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson have teensy parts, and Timothy Bottoms plays a mayor that looks like George W. Bush.

I shall now damn Vampire Bats with faint praise: It’s not boring or incompetently filmed. That said, there’s not much to recommend it either, other than Ms. Lawless. Whether or not that’s sufficient to sustain your attention during the 90-minute running time is a question you’ll have to decide for yourself.