KING ON FILM: THE NIGHT FLIER (1997)

Rating:

Never Believe What You Publish, and Never Publish What You Believe

Main Cast: Miguel Ferrer and Julie Entwisle

Director: Mark Pavia

Good God, here we go again.

I don’t know what it is that possesses people to want to adapt every single minor story from King other than because it bears his name.  But as we have seen countless times already, the King name attached to a movie does not automatically make it a good one.  I was going to say it helps to have a writer/director with more than one short film credit to their name, but IT’s Andy Muschietti had only directed two movies before he made that juggernaut of a movie.  So maybe the thing that would REALLY help would be just to start with an actual good King story.  You know what’s not and never has been a good King story?

The Night Flier

Previously published in his collection NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES, The Night Flier is about, in King’s own words, “a vampire with his own private pilot’s license.”

Great, cool, but what HAPPENS?

Oh, a tabloid reporter is assigned the job of exposing the killer who lands in remote airports, kills everyone there, and takes off again.  And that was worthy of the time it took to write it WHY?

From the moment I first read King’s The Night Flier, I was completely underwhelmed.  It’s not a great idea, it’s sort of dumb, a vampire who is also a pilot.  Big deal.  Why am I interested?  Because it hasn’t been seen before?  Neither has a vampire who is also a world class arm wrestler, but you don’t see anyone churning out a franchise based on that idea.  Or a werewolf who is also a garbage man.  Maybe a mummy who also just happens to be a stockboy at Wal-Mart.  A ghoul with a motorcycle license?  WHO CARES?

Not me, I’ve been bored with this story since forever.

So why the hell make a movie adaptation?  You’ve got me, man!

I’d sooner watch the laundry wash.

But here we are, because back in 1997 Mark Pavia got the idea to make this movie.  He secured financing somehow, wrote a script, convinced Miguel freakin’ Ferrer to be in it as Richard Dees, the main character, cast PeeWee from PORKY’S as Dees’s boss, and Julie Entwisle, who is now married to Pavia, as the co-lead, and we’re off to the races.

There’s been a string of mysterious deaths at small town airports along the east coast and the theory is the killer, who is registered as Dwight Renfield (Dwight Frye played the character Renfield in the 1931 movie DRACULA), fancies himself a vampire.  Dees’s boss at the Inside View tabloid wants him to look into it, but Dees senses there’s no story here and he passes.  The boss gives the story to Katherine Blair, new hire at the paper.  Dees doesn’t like this, so he takes the story back and goes to investigate the previous deaths, becoming more and convinced that maybe, just maybe, Dwight Renfield might actually BE a vampire.

The bulk of The Night Flier consists of Dees’s investigation of the previous three deaths and his attempts to scare it up for the readers by staging photos.  Luckily, Dees is able to give chase pretty easily if and when a new murder occurs because Dees, like Dwight, just happens to have a pilot’s license and his own plane.  So naturally who better to talk to the airfield locals than a fellow pilot?

Spoilers

Not one to be outdone, however, and still starving for that first byline, Katherine chases the story on her own, finally teaming up with Dees until he betrays her, using her skills just long enough to track down the next lead, then locking her in his hotel room closet and taking off for the next airport.

I’m going to spoil this entire movie in this review because let’s be honest, none of you are going to see it, nor should you, I’m saving you the time and effort.  You’re welcome.

So anyway, Dees gets to the final airport where Dwight confronts him in the men’s room.  He plays a little trickery with Dees’s mind and convinces him the dead have returned.  Dees uses an ax to defend himself and when the cops bust in, they see Dees standing over a bunch of corpses, holding a bloody ax.  They shoot him and, instead of setting the record straight, Katherine writes the story up as if Dees had been the killer all along, thereby getting her first byline and cover story in what will no doubt be the most sensational story of her career (both fictionally and in reality as Entwisle earned exactly one more acting credit post-The Night Flier).

End Spoilers

Jesus, almost 800 words on this movie already and that’s twice what I expected to be able to say about it.  It’s truly a nothing movie.  Little action, the gore is good because it came from KNB Studios, so naturally, but the rest of the movie is just so damned WHO CARES!?!?

Miguel Ferrer has gotten most of the recognition in other reviews of The Night Flier and that’s fair, but he’s really just playing a typical jaded newshound who’ll do anything for a story.  Think EVERY interpretation of Lois Lane you’ve ever seen in ANY Superman movie or television show, now make her look like bald Miguel Ferrer and you’ve got Richard Dees.  Yawn.

The rest of the cast is … present, I guess?  But they’re given so little to really DO with Pavia’s script and direction that it all feels like a really long and cheap episode of Tales From the Darkside.  At one point, Dees’s boss, Mr. Morrison, sits back in his chair in his dark office after everyone’s left for the night and laughs maniacally.  And PeeWee from PORKY’S doesn’t have a very maniacal laugh, so it doesn’t come across well at all.

God, I didn’t like The Night Flier at all.  But I sat through it, terrible as it was, and now it’s done.  I just think this one was a perfect storm of a terrible story being made into an equally bad movie by someone who probably should have had a little more practice making horror movies before he attempted to adapt Stephen King.  Not that anyone could have saved this, it’s still a dumb idea, but maybe a version made by an actual experienced writer and/or director would have at least brought SOMETHING interesting to the table.  This version, not so much!

King on Film

1976-1992 (Carrie to Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice)

The Dark Half (1993)

The Dark Half (1993) Movie Review | Movie Rewind

The Tommyknockers (1993)

The Tommyknockers Movie Review | Movie Rewind

Needful Things (1993)

Needful Things (1993) | Movie Rewind

The Stand (1994)

Stephen King’s The Stand Movie (1994) | Movie Rewind

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption Movie Reviewed | Movie Rewind

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995) | Movie Rewind

The Mangler (1995)

The Mangler – Stephen King Short Story Movie Adaptation (movierewind.com)

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Dolores Claiborne Starring Kathy Bates | Movie Rewind

The Langoliers (1995)

Langoliers (1995) – A Stephen King Movie Strike Out | Movie Rewind

Sometimes They Comes Back … Again (1996)

SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN (1995) | C. Dennis Moore – Horror Author

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV: THE GATHERING (1996) | C. Dennis Moore – Horror Author

Thinner (1996)

Thinner – Movie Adaptation of Stephen King’s Novel | Movie Rewind

The Shining (1997)

The Shining – 1997 TV Mini-Series | Movie Rewind

Ghosts (1997)

King on Film: Ghosts (1996) – Starring Michael Jackson | Movie Rewind

Chattery Teeth (1997)

Chattery Teeth 1997 – Stephen King on Film | Movie Rewind

The Revelations of ‘Becka Paulson (1997)

https://www.movierewind.com/2021/revelations-becka-paulson

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