Those who know me well know that I favour some pretty cheesy, low budget movies. I don't know why this is. The Night Flier, based on a short story by Stephen King, is perhaps one of my favourite horror movies. With a budget of one million dollars, it could certainly be considered a low budget film. It also did not do well in theatres, grossing in only around a hundred, twenty-five thousand in return.
Is The Night Flier Cheesy? I don't think so.
Here are three things that are great about The Night Flier:
1. Richard Dees, our story obsessed hero, is not a likeable character. At all. And yet the viewer comes to like the guy by the end of the movie. Movies that can do this well are always fascinating. It's a real art to make a deplorable character into someone you're routing for by the end credits.
2. The story manages to capture the feel of Stephen King movies, which is, as with most Stephen King movies, is a copy of the man's literature, but most certainly not an exact match. I really enjoy King's take on New England hicks and their accents. It's something that no other writer has truly tackled, and so one has to wonder whether or not all those "Ayuhs" are true or a part of the author's imagination. It doesn't matter in the end. King, you could argue, has a reality all his own, as evidenced within his work. What is most exciting about it is how transparent the style is. It doesn't always work on the big screen, however. But it does here in The Night Flier.
3. The movie's ending was pretty darn cool.
I also like the creature effects, the fact that the vampire is a vicious creature rather than a sparkling romance interest, and that he flies around in a plane rather than turning into a bat. The movie has some genuine creepy moments, especially when our fiend lands in an airport late at night and just sits there silently despite the operator's constant trying get in contact via radio. Just seeing the plane, a Skymaster that is painted black, sitting in the moonlight has a malicious feel that would keep me away from the thing.
There's really not all that much to the plot. Richard Dees, played brilliantly by Miguel Ferrer is a reporter for a swag paper who gets a lead, and some competition from newbie reporter Katherine Blair, played by Julie Entwisle , on a story about people turning up dead in airports across New England. As Dees follows leads and tries to outwit the competition, the story becomes darker and more weird.
The Night Flier is more of a character study on Dees, and even a little on Kathrine, as both struggle to get to the root of the story first. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and as Kathrine is right out of college, she at first plays the innocent role, but by the end grows into the same cold and calloused individual as Richard Dees.
Overall, the story is just a fun ride and a somewhat unique look at the vampire. Check it out if you haven't. Personally, I think it's a forgotten gem of Stephen King adaptations. One that deserves more recognition.