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The Night Flier
DVD cover
Directed byMark Pavia
Written byStephen King (story)
Mark Pavia
Jack O'Donnell
Based onThe Night Flier (short story) by Stephen King
Produced byMitchell Galin
Richard P. Rubinstein
Starring
CinematographyDavid Connell
Edited byElizabeth Schwartz
Music byBrian Keane
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
May 2, 1997 (Italy)
November 7, 1997 (USA; HBO)[1]
February 6, 1998 (USA; theatrical)
Running time
93 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Italy
LanguageEnglish
Box office$125,397 (United States only)[2]

The Night Flier (also known as Stephen King's The Night Flier) is a 1997 American horror film based on the 1988 short story of the same title[3] by Stephen King.[4] It was directed by Mark Pavia and starred Miguel Ferrer and Julie Entwisle.[5]

Plot

Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer) is a cynical tabloid reporter whose motto is "Never believe what you publish and never publish what you believe". Merton Morrison (Dan Monahan), editor-in-chief at the tabloid Inside View, confides a case to him about a bloody murder in a rural airfield, committed by a passing aviator who thinks he is a vampire and registered under the name of Dwight Renfield (Michael H. Moss). Dees refuses, but reverses his decision when two more murders are committed in another airfield, the victims drained of their blood. He recovers the case from Morrison who, in the meantime, had entrusted it to the novice reporter Katherine Blair (Julie Entwisle), and leaves in the footsteps of the killer aboard his own light aircraft.

Dees gathers accounts, pays bribes and even desecrates a grave for the purposes of his investigation. He senses that the case is stranger than it seems and receives messages telling him to stop his investigation. Dissatisfied with Dees' attitude, Morrison sends Blair to conduct her own parallel investigation. Dees offers the young woman to join forces to hunt down the killer.

They find his trail at the Wilmington airfield and, as he no longer needs her, Dees abandons Katherine to continue alone. He lands at Wilmington and finds Renfield's Cessna Skymaster with dirt inside and the interior covered in blood. The airfield seems deserted, but Dees finds several massacred people. After taking photographs, he goes to the bathroom to vomit and is surprised by Renfield, who reveals his face and turns out to truly be a vampire. Renfield destroys Dees' photographic film and forces him to drink a little of his blood, which gives Dees visions of all the victims coming back as zombies. In a trance, he attacks the bodies with an axe and is shot by the police officers who arrived on the scene with Blair. She sees Renfield get on his plane and take off but, adopting Dees' motto, she publishes an article that portrays Dees as the killer.

Release

The film, which was independently financed by European investors, attracted strong interest from Paramount Pictures.[6] Due to a crowded release schedule, the studio could only bring the film to theaters in time for Halloween 1998.[6] Director Mark Pavia and producer Richard P. Rubinstein opted not to take Paramount's offer, as keeping the film on the shelf until October 1998 would break obligations they had with their European investors.[6] The Night Flier would instead premiere in the United States on HBO on November 7, 1997 (it had previously received a worldwide premiere in Italy during May of that year).[7][6] The film was later picked up by New Line Cinema for an American theatrical release on February 6, 1998, where it performed poorly.[6]

The Night Flier was first released on DVD by HBO Home Video on May 27, 1998. Since then the film has been released multiple times by HBO and Warner Home Video, and once distributed by Mosaic Movies in 2000.[8]

Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 33% based on 6 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 4.1/10.[9] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 7 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".[10]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a negative review, criticizing the film's poor adaptation, and lack of thrills, citing Ferrer's performance as the film's sole strength.[11] Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Once the easy joke about the fellowship of bloodsuckers has sunk in and the versatility of latex in the creation of gore has been demonstrated, there’s not much else going on — not creepiness, not scariness, not Twilight Zone nostalgia. What personality there is comes from Ferrer, who, with a belligerent glower, throws himself into the role of the soul-dead reporter with a full-blooded intensity that’s almost more than this undead caper can handle."[12]

However, not all reviews of the film were negative. Leonard Maltin gave the film a score of 2.5/4 stars, complimenting the film's "Genuinely creepy mood" and Ferrer's performance, but criticized the final third of the film.[13] Lael Loewenstein from Variety gave the film a positive review, writing, "Stephen King's The Night Flier is a creepy vampire tale that also offers some clever commentary on bloodthirsty tabloid journalists."[14]

Cancelled sequel

A sequel script entitled Fear of Flying was written by Pavia and King in the mid-2000s, focusing more on the Katherine Blair character as well as the origins of the Night Flier killer.[15] However, the duo failed to gain the required 10 million dollars in financing from Hollywood studios, due to the original 1997 film being viewed as merely a minor cult hit.[15]

References

  1. ^ "TV Guide for November 7, 1997". Detroit Sunday Journal. Retrieved 21 March 2020. Movie: "The Night Flier" (1997, Horror) Miguel Ferrer, (In Stereo) 'R'
  2. ^ "The Night Flier (1998)". Box Office Mojo. 1998-02-20. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  3. ^ "First Look at Grimm's Toothy New Beast". July 12, 2012.
  4. ^ "Horror". SYFY.
  5. ^ Miska, Brad (January 14, 2010). "The Santa Claus from Hell in 'Sick Nick'".
  6. ^ a b c d e Von Doviak, Scott (2014). Stephen King Films FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of Horror on Film. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781480386181.
  7. ^ Grant, Edmond (1999). The Motion Picture Guide: 1999 Annual (The Films of 1998). CineBooks. ISBN 9780933997431. Retrieved 8 November 2019. An above-average Stephen King adaptation, THE NIGHT FLIER (which premiered on HBO in 1997 prior to its '98 theatrical and video releases) also showcases a terrific lead performance by Miguel Ferrer.
  8. ^ "The Night Flier (1997) - Mark Pavia". Allmovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Stephen King's 'The Night Flier' - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Flixer. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  10. ^ "The Night Flier Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  11. ^ Holden, Stephen. "'Stephen King's 'The Night Flier': Draculian Gore, Sound and Fury". New York Times.com. Stephen Holden. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  12. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa. "Stephen King's The Nite Flier". Entertainment Weekly.com. Lisa Schwarzbaum. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  13. ^ Leonard Maltin (3 September 2013). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 1002. ISBN 978-1-101-60955-2.
  14. ^ Loewenstein, Lael. "Stephen King's The Night Flier – Variety". Variety.com. Lael Loewenstein. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b Pavia, Mark (July 2016), Shock Waves Podcast Retrieved 10 March 2019.