FLIGHT OF THE
FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was originally titled, PLANE DEAD. I gotta admit, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD sounds way better even though that's about all that connects this to George A. Romero's and John Russo's original vision. For reasons that sound good only to the powers-that-be at New Line, they subtitled it, Outbreak On A Plane.
I know they had high hopes for SNAKES ON A PLANE. I know that SNAKES ON A PLANE was supposed to be this mega-smash, but it wasn't. It tanked in the U.S. and as a Horror fan there is nothing that grabs me about the subtitle, Outbreak On A Plane. The only thing I get from that subtitle is the suggestion that this movie will be a direct to video cheapie wannabee hack knock off of another movie that wasn't that good itself.
If you are one of those that feels the same way, then let me tell you, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD grabs SNAKES ON A PLANE by the back of the head and shoves its face in the dirt! DEEP in the dirt. And then it twists its face around in the aforementioned dirt a bit before spitting on it. FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is actually a very cool, fun, little Horror Thriller movie!
Unlike most disaster plane flicks, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD starts in the air. The obligatory traipse through the airport is done away with and whether by plan or budgetary constraints, this is all good.
To let you know that this is supposed to be nuts from the offset, we have all the iconic characters of any disaster flick. There are the young couples who are too young to die - but at the same time they are also 1980s teens-so-stupid-you-can't-wait-to-see-them-suffer.
There is the nun (Claudia Katz: SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN 2), the jock (Derek Webster: GODZILLA ) - in this case a golfer who can't let go of his putt. His long suffering wife (Siena Goines: RANCID) who wants to get away - for just this vacation - from his celebrity. They do double duty as the bickering couple where the wife drinks too much.
There is the stewardess (Kristen Kerr: INLAND EMPIRE, BLACK DAHLIA MOVIE) who is sweetly attracted to the marshal. There is the plucky stewardess (Mieko Hillman).
The head stewardess with the gruff demeanor (Heidi Marnhout: PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION, BUBBA HO-TEP), and rounding out this troup of tropes is the Captain of the plane (Raymond Bayshore: CHRISTMAS EVIL, FALLING DOWN, THE DEEP END) who is about to retire.
Captain: Retirement will be great! After 20 years, this is my last flight!
And of course, there are the evil business guys, led by Leo Bennet (Eric Avari: THE MUMMY , THE 13TH WARRIOR, PLANET OF THE APES , DAREDEVIL) whose company is about to go under. In this case though, those business guys will be responsible for the entire mess that happens on the plane.
See, these company guys kind of goofed up with this serum or virus or serum virus or whatever the hell, and now the wife of one of the doctors, who was one of the researchers herself, is being kept in a top secret container in the hold of the plane, watched over by an armed guard.
Meanwhile at the Pentagon, there is a scientist (David Spielberg: WINTER KILLS, CHRISTINE, THE STRANGER), a Colonel (Tucker Smallwood: STRANGELAND, HOOD OF HORROR), and a CIA guy (you can tell he's CIA because he wears a name badge with a big white card hanging from his name badge where it is magic markered in huge letters, CIA). The scientist tells the agent and the Colonel why they have to find these four scientists because they have developed this something or other than re-animates the dead.
Colonel: Re-animate the dead? Why?
Meanwhile, like all good airplane disaster movies, our jet has run into a storm that they - say it with me gang - "Can't fly over it and can't fly around!" So the good captain is going to try to fly BENEATH it. Ahem. How far under a storm must you be to get away from it? Hmmm.
Vell, der rockink' und der rollink' uff der plane throws stuff about the cargo hold, hurting the guard and popping the ice trunk of the container where good Doctor Kelly Thorpe (Laura Cayouette: KILL BILL VOL. 2) comes out of hibernation and wonders where the hell she is. This freaks the guard Frey (Brian Thompson: THE TERMINATOR, THE X-FILES [TV]), who despite his injuries, shoots her dead - as well as several stray bullets that hit a vital piece of jet electronics (Say it with me gang! "My god! We've lost radio contact!"). This was SO the wrong thing to do! As long as she is alive, the doc is a regular human. The second her heart stops, the virus goes wild!
Seriously wild. These are RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD / DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) style fast zombies and they are STRONG! The doctor re-animates and puts the frightened guard in his place. Then they both go tearing about the place and now we have a movie!
Sky Marshall: We're gonna run low on ammo! How much you got?
FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD isn't intended to be one-liner and slapstick like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, MEN IN BLACK, or SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Co-Writer and Director Scott Thomas (DERANGED) delivers Horror mit wit, in the realm of movies like MOTEL HELL, IDLE HANDS, SLITHER, and FEAST. Free-wheeling without a back-handed snarky sense that the film makers are sneering at their audience. The writers, besides Scott, are Sidney Iwanter (also produced) and Mark Onspaugh. They know what the Horror fans have grown to recognize and take advantage of that jaded knowledge. The movie feels like there is a genuine love for Horror Thriller among the creators - as if they are fans themselves. Lots of Horror tropes are thrown out here, not with the intent of making them work, but of giving them a Moe Howard kick in the butt!
So many cool moments, perfectly timed and properly discarded, as well as just sheer Horror Thriller fun, get FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD four Shriek Girls.
Oh, and the soundtrack is pretty sweet!
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