The Indian andi-defamation league is losing ground at the movies. It's not that long ago that the Ugh-Ugh Bad Guys in westerns were laid to rest, and now there's a new Indian stereotype, this time for horror movies. And it's not the Bad-Guy Bigots, but the Good-Cause Guys who created it.
In "Nightwing," as in "The Prophecy," Indians are handsome but eerie creatures who will put the hex on you if you pollute the environment, or even develop it. Mystically in touch with all the locally lurking hideous monsters, they are able to set them after white corporation executives but not smart enough to keep themselves from being victims, too. Compared to this, scalping settlers and whooping three laps around the wagons was dignified work.
There is always a creepy, stoned, elderly male Indian who issues dire warnings, and a brooding, sexy young Indian man who has gone to Yale but not forgotten his people. (At least the prototype of such young Indian heroes, in the stage musical "Whoopee!," admitted that it was Yale. In the movies, they always say ominously, "i understand your ways; I have been through your schools," which might mean Harvard.) "nightwing" has two such young Indians, so they stare broodily at each other when they're not staring darkly at the white girl.
What brings out the monsters this time is the fact that oil has been found on Indian land. This is a bad thing, it is explained, because the Indians would all get rich and buy Mercedes Benzes and then - well, nobody goes on to reason that this is no time to buy expensive cars when we so badly need to discover more fuel.
Anyway, the old Indian invites in man-eating, plague-carrying vampire bats. Because this is Good-Cause Guys film, it carries the statement, after showing bats and people killing each other for two hours, that no animals were actually harmed.
On the people side are Ben Piazza as a British bat killer from the World Health Organization ("The Prophecy" uses the Public Health Service - Good-Cause Guys know where all the grants are) and George Clutesi, playing the creepy old Indian, as he did in "the Prophecy."
Nick Mancuso has the sexy young Indian role. You have to say one thing about these Indian Yalie parts - at least they make work for Italian actors. CAPTION: Picture, HANDSOME BUT EERIE ITALOAMERINDIAN NICK MANCUSO MAKES LIKE A BAT IN COLUMBIA PICTURES' 'NIGHTWING'