Based on a short story of the same name by Stephen King, The Night Flier is an authentic and engaging vampire movie. The storytelling feels like you’re actually reading the story as we’re following a tabloid reporter investigating a string of gruesome murders. Granted, there’s not much meat on the bones here and the whole thing feels a bit stretched. However, what meat there is, is of superior, Stephen King quality. Something you will feel if you make it to the ten-minute mark and very eloquent Richard’s monologue about journalism. His character is the driving force of this movie only amplified by Miguel Ferrer’s stellar performance. I would dare to say that this is one of his best movies, especially since he’s the sole lead here.
There’s an air of mystery and suspense around the main plot of The Night Flier. You really can’t guess in which direction it’s going to go and how might it end. We don’t get to see our nocturnal visitor up until the very end, much like in Jaws. However, once we do see him, our wait is greatly rewarded with one of the more extravagant vampire depictions. Actually, the entire movie feels oddly and charmingly refreshing, with the modern twist on an age-old tale. Of course, vampires travel by private planes now, it’s the freaking nineties! Next thing you know and they’ll be chopping cocaine with credit cards and that will be the end of us.
Meet Richard Dees, a bitter cynic working for one of the premier tabloid magazines in the country. He’s their best reporter, bringing them gruesome and bizarre front-page stories. This time, he decides to skip the one where a mysterious pilot keeps landing with his all-black plane on small airfields and killing the staff. However, after the killer strikes again, he will decide to investigate, with disastrous consequences…
What do you do when you don’t have enough material for a feature movie? You milk the shit out of what you’ve got with careful pacing punctuating all the important moments. The atmosphere is a perfect blend of suspense and pulp, with an extraordinarily immersive quality. Once you start watching this movie, you’ll most likely finish it, no matter what the time is. In The Night Flier, we will meticulously follow Richard’s investigation like this is an X-Files episode. Speaking of which, you might check out that episode with vampires (S05E12 – Bad Blood) because it’s still awesome and very funny. Hell, I just chuckled remembering Luke Wilson’s performance as the buck-toothed sheriff.
Apart from the whole vampiric angle, we also have the tabloid angle. It’s sleazy, despicable, and just jarring to watch to what lengths these people are willing to go for a story. And remember, people, buy their magazines or click on those links like crazy. This aspect of the movie reminded me of Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The Night Flier is a short, undemanding, and intriguing vampire movie. The dialogue is slick and memorable with a couple of lines that will stick with you. For example, when Dees is drinking at the local bar and asks for one more drink, the bartender says hard day and he replies hard life. It’s that delightful mixture of nihilism and hedonism, we all love so much. This is also a perfect flick to kick off your vampire movie night that you might continue with Innocent Blood, Cronos, or even From Dust Till Dawn.
Director: Mark Pavia
Writers: Stephen King, Mark Pavia, Jack O’Donnell
Cast: Miguel Ferrer, Julie Entwisle, Dan Monahan, Michael H. Moss, John Bennes, Beverly Skinner, Rob Wilds
Fun Facts: Many of the murder photos in the press office are real, including the one of the horribly mutilated prostitute. They were taken from the photo album of a homicide detective who worked in LA from the 1930s to the 1950s, which would later be published under the title “Death Scenes”.