The Night Flier (1997)
What’s It About: OK, I’m going to try to keep this brief since this movie isn’t worth anyone’s precious time. Imagine Dracula is a pilot of a small aircraft and flies to small town airports in rural areas and feasts on the locals.
Crack ace reporter, Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer) is on the case to expose the vampiric killer for his supermarket tabloid magazine. Dees also has to fight for his front-page byline from newbie reporter Katharine Blair (played by someone who looks like Phoebe Cates). Dees successfully confronts the vampire and in a twist of fate is eventually outwitted by both the monster and Blair.
Is It actually Scary: I try (TRY) to enjoy a movie based on a Stephen King work every Schlocktoberfest and year after year I am let down. I’m not even a fan of the writer but with every written work he publishes becomes a film it’s hard not to add it to the mix. This gem (which opened on 95 screens in 1997) looks and feels like a Tales From the Crypt episode (not necessarily a bad thing, mind you) with its use of D-list actors (Dan Monahan who plays the magazine’s publisher was famously “Pee-Wee” in Porky’s) and odd moral twist at the end. I haven’t seen much with Miguel Ferrer but he is no A-list starring actor. The actress playing Blair only has 2 credits to her name; both in 1997. The pacing is slow and the plot is paper thin. Is it actually scary? I’ve been in bus rides that gave me more fear.
Scariest Moment: Well I will give this movie some credit. The vampire’s design and make-up was pretty decent. When he finally reveals himself to Dees he screams in his face with a mouth the size that looks it could fit a human-head inside. So that was kinda neat. I may have flinched a bit. The whole ending is actually quite good. After Dees demands that the vampire show him his face, the vampire makes Dees drink his blood thus allowing Dees to see what the vampire says is Hell. In this foggy and black and white world, all the victims in that airport “awaken” and come to torment and attack Dees. In a state of panic, rage and defense Dees starts attacking the zombies with an ax. Its at this moment that the police (just 2 cops actually) witness Dees, bloody and striking bodies with the ax, and immediately suspect he’s the killer, shooting him dead. Blair watches on, not saying a word and letting the vampire walk back to his plane to continue his hunt. It was very Tales From the Crypt-ish but it was by far the best part of the movie.
How Much Gore: Plenty. They sure did not skimp on the blood in this film. The finale especially is a virtual blood bath.
Dumbest Moment: Its hard to choose from so many dumb moments so I’ll run down some of my favorites. First, the protagonist is one of the best reporters working for a supermarket tabloid much like the comical National Enquirer. That’s basically akin to being the best fry-cook at Burger King. Making the “hero” of this story have so little value and act like it is doesn’t make for a riveting story. The whole vampire that is a pilot flying around the country for victims is so lame its laughable. He’s a vampire can’t he turn into a bat and fly like that. Its also revealed that his plane is filled with his “earth” like Dracula sleeps in his earth. Dees stumbles upon the vampire’s photobook which shows the vampire in his human days next to his Sopwith Camel or whatever bi-plane it was. Its worth to note that the vampire goes by the name of Dwight Renfield (SoOoOoOo scary) which of course is named after Dwight Frye who played Renfield in the Bela Lugosi Dracula in 1931. Really King? That’s the best reference you can come up with? Also as well as they designed the vampire’s bat-like face, instead of two large incisor fangs like they usually do, it’s one large fang on the top and another on the bottom which looks downright silly. OK, I’m done…wait One more thing. In the bathroom, Dees hears Renfield come in but can’t see him (vampires have no reflection sure) but when Renfield takes a leak at the urinal we see a stream of blood instead of urine. Huh? Vampires piss blood? Why would they do that? Showing the piss in the urinal without a visible body is kinda frightening enough but why would they make it blood? Is that supposed to be scarier?
Any Nudity: Honestly I don’t remember. I don’t think so. Whatever.
Overall: While there are a good handful of decent Stephen King horror movies out there (Carrie, The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Dead Zone, Christine, Misery) for every good one there’s a terrible one. This happens to be one terrible one.
Score: 4 Bloody Pisses (out of 10)