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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
I'm glad you came to this page. So many people, even fans of Stephen King's books, will not watch his movies. King's many stories have been largely crap on the silver screen and boob tube. There have been so very few good ones like CARRIE, CREEPSHOW, CHRISTINE, STAND BY ME, MISERY, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and THE GREEN MILE. There have been so many bad ones like, well, nearly all the rest.
So let me tell you right up front: THE NIGHT FLIER is a damn good movie!
No, YOU shut up! I'm serious.
It gets right into the horror when we first come across a blood spattered private plane on a small runway. We are with the first victim as he looks at this black plane a bit too close. Merry Mishaps ensue.
Whether you see the Video Tape cover, the DVD cover, or you see the previews on HBO, you already know that the killer is indeed a vampire.
THE NIGHT FLIER stars Miguel Ferrer (ROBOCOP, DEEP STAR SIX) as the cruel and selfish tabloid reporter Richard Dees (a real stretch for Ferrer!). Dees apparently entered this specific field of reporting because there was a time when he actually believed that, at least some of the stories had to be true. But there were never any monsters, never anything supernatural, just lonely, twisted, sometimes violent people embittered by their own delusions. Just like Dees - by his own misguided hand - he has made himself one of them: pathetic. Though unlike the others - Dees is never sympathetic. Ferrer carries on an acting tradition set by his father Jose, and never disappoints. Tired of his life and tired of himself, the only thing that matters to Dees any more is "the story". The story is his life, and he will do anything to get it, or create it, or make it look better.
His boss Merton Morrison (Dan Monahan), on the other hand, just Loves His Job. He has seen the deathly sick and violently twisted world through the eyes of Rick Dees multiplied by all the other reporters who have worked for him over the years, and he just can't get enough. He is a real life vampire of another kind, one we have all met and cannot bring ourselves to defeat. The reason for this is the same as Dracula's own, his main strength lies in his charm. Even Dees vulgar rantings and insults cannot defrock Morrison's smile. He is the confident puppet master at his trash paper, Inside View. Monahan portrays his Morrison as a man who takes delight at exploiting the weaknesses of his employees. He steals every scene.
Rick Dees new competition lies in the fresh cub reporter at the tabloid, Katherine Blair (Julie Entwhisle). Full of life and spunk and shallow dark secrets of her own, she is a tantalizing victim, but one who has her own unstoppable thirst in getting a story. Entwhisle is called upon to deliver a wide range of emotions in this movie. She was chosen for this part, no doubt, for her wide-eyed innocent appearing face. She is also called upon, throughout the course of this movie, to express herself through a wide range of emotions both loud and subtle which she carries off impressively well. I look forward to this actress's future career.
What all three of these characters share is their own form of bloodlust. They have an insatiable thirst for the gruesome story, the more bizarre, the more bloody, the better. In many ways they are like the vampire they seek. Seeking out the darkest depths of human nature: Hey, I can relate!
All three of these folks are on the trail of a serial killer. A killer who flies into small private plane airports and kills whoever is handy, draining their bodies of blood. When Morrison gets the stories over "the wire", there are only two victims on two separate incidences, but he smells a larger issue. At this point no one except him, not even the FAA have connected the two murders: yet. Even Richard doesn't see any story in it, but his boss Morrison does. Morrison also feels delightfully confident that the killer will strike again and now is the time to get in on the story before the FAA announces the threat and the major media descends on it.
With the third victim, Richard decides that he does want into the story, but by that time Morrison has given the story over to Blair. Now the funs begins, with the two reporters out on the trail of the vampire (Michael H. Moss: ROBOCOP III, who is in a thoroughly ridiculous costume for this kind of movie). The story, the plot, and the grand finale overcome that goofy costume, let me assure you.
What's good about this story, really good, is the depth brought to the characters. They are given the lines and time to develop their personalities, instead of just throwing hammy overblown emotions at us. Kudos go to Director/Screenwriter Mark Pavia in his feature film debut, for bringing out the most in his actors and scenes. Accolades as well go to Pavia's co-credit in screenwriting, Jack O' Donnell. Together they did something rather unique and a bit unorthodox in filmmaking: They Kept The Writer In The Loop!
Pavia and O'Donnell held brainstorming sessions with author Stephen King about his own story! Can you imagine? Only a newbie director would make such a gaff! No wonder the movie is so good! Also sitting in on these sessions was THE NIGHT FLIER coproducer Mitchell Galin and Richard Rubenstien (CREEPSHOW, PET SEMATARY, THE STAND, THE LANGOLIERS), who are obviously longtime King Producers / fans.
This movie builds up to its blood truckin' finale with a slow burn of gore that reminds me of Chris Carter at his best. Although it retains some of King's cornball character dialogue (as one character got to talking, I thought, "Ayeh. This is King's writing, sure enough there neighbor."), this movie is a horror fan's feast. Its idea of a modern day vampire who flies around, not as a bat, but in a Cessna Sky Master is a welcome addition to the vampire legend. Despite minor missteps, this movie well deserves its 4 Shriek Girls.