Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Night Flier (1997)

Sometimes I think it’s more of an old moldy tradition to claim that there are so few good screen versions of Stephen King’s work. Like it’s so easy to say that movies with computer animations only exists to show the special effects and not tell a story, which of course it’s just absurd compared to all the shitty effects-movies being made before computer graphics became normal. It’s just a safe thing to say because most people would agree and it’s easy to step on a person’s opinion with pulling the safe cards: Maximum Overdrive, The Children of the Corn franchise and of course Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler. “The iconic three” of bad examples, even of they are quite OK if you take of those pretentious glasses and just look at them as something separate from Stephen King. I mean, it’s just movies – not something that actually means something in real life - just simple entertainment. One movie that flew (no pun intended) under the radar was Mark Pavia’s The Night Flier from 1997. Here in Sweden it came directly to VHS and that was the last I heard of it until it disappeared into the depths of DTV-hell.

When watching it again after so many years I suddenly find myself watching one of the best and original vampire-movies made during the last 20-30 years. It’s up there with Innocent Blood and Fright Night when it comes to originality and the talent involved. Why? I think it’s because it takes an absurd premise and make it totally serious and casts Miguel Ferrer in one of his few leading parts.

A vampire is using small sport airplane, flying from field to field, killing and ripping victims apart. The government is hiding this from the mainstream news, but a small speculative magazine, Inside View, sends one of their most experienced journalists – and also the most revolting and unethical – to tell the story about the airborne vampire. It’s the semi-alcoholic Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer) who unwillingly takes the job, just to get his face on the cover again. But the vampire, or serial killer, is noticing the interest and starts to warn him, something that makes him even more interested in solving the case…

Produced by Richard P. Rubinstein, the many behind many of George A. Romero’s work and co-produced by the Italians, lead by Alfred Cuomo, The Night Flier is a surprisingly stylish and well-made production. It’s really a big shame that it didn’t catch on to the big audience, because this movie actually succeeds in bringing us an interesting story and maybe most important, a fascinating lead that even if he’s an asshole, can be something we can relate to. My romantic view on journalism probably made me watch him in a more kind way, because a dream would to be working as a journalist specialized in the supernatural and weird.

I was mentioning Innocent Blood and Fright Night above, but the atmosphere reminds me more of Silver Bullet: Small towns, deep forests and odd local folks getting killed, minus the annoying kid and the silly wheelchair-thingie of course. The Night Flier also boasts a lot of excellent and graphic effects by KNB and a fantastic vampire-monster that shows its freaky face at the end. It’s not overly gory, but still has enough blood and fun for the whole horror-family.

This is a very well-made flick and it deserves a bigger audience. It’s easy to find on cheap DVD on ebay or, I’m sure, your favourite web-store. There’s something called a “director’s cut” out there also, which has a few seconds of extra gore – nothing that extreme though, you would probably not notice the difference.


Jesper said...

I Remember watching this on VHS and actually kinda liked while most of my friends thought it was crap. Thanks for the reminder and now all of the sudden I got the urge to also rewatch Silver Bullet, one of my favourite King adaptions when I was a kid!

Jesper said...

My take on Silver Bullet (in swedish though)