×

Stephen King’s The Night Flier

"Stephen King's The Night Flier" is a creepy vampire tale that also offers some clever commentary on bloodthirsty tabloid journalists.

With:
Richard Dees - Miguel Ferrer Katherine Blair - Julie Entwisle Merton Morrison - Dan Monahan Dwight Renfield - Merton H. Moss Ezra Hannon - John Bennes Selida McCamon - Beverly Skinner Buck Kendall - Rob Wilds Claire Bowie - Richard Olsen Ellen Sarch - Elizabeth McCormick

Stephen King’s The Night Flier” is a creepy vampire tale that also offers some clever commentary on bloodthirsty tabloid journalists. While not the most memorable of King adaptations, it’s far from the worst of them, and with King’s name emblazoned in the title, pic (which aired on HBO in November and has already opened in some European territories) is likely to profit from scribe’s loyal following in limited theatrical release before it segues to a long and comfortable shelf life on video.

In the hectic offices of the top tabloid Inside View, a rivalry develops between veteran reporter and paparazzo Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer) and eager young rookie Katherine Blair (Julie Entwisle) when their editor (Dan Monahan) offers them a juicy lead. In a pair of recent murders, an unidentified Cessna pilot has landed on small, isolated airfields at night to feed on the blood of local residents.

When Dees passes on the story, editor Morrison hands it over to Blair instead. But when another murder takes place almost immediately, Dees changes his mind and demands the story back. Setting out in his own private plane, the reporter follows the killer’s path. With unrelenting zeal, Dees corners witnesses, pressing them to reveal gruesome details, and snaps the most salacious photos he can find — or con-struct. Predictably, Blair hasn’t given up the chase, and the two of them find themselves in competition — and briefly collaborating — before fate plays a hand.

Helmer Mark Pavia and his co scripter, Jack O’Donnell, self proclaimed horror aficionados, clearly understand conventions of the genre. The duo, whose short horror film “Drag” impressed King enough for him to lobby for their attachment to “Night Flier,” has effectively opened up his short story, adding a clever meta commentary on the horror genre itself.

Putting the protagonist behind the lens of his own camera not only sets up the obvious out for blood parallel of vampire and paparazzi, but also offers an ironic critique on the director’s motivations. In one smartly executed scene, Dees finds himself in a cemetery photographing the grave of a recent victim. Judging the tombstone too neat for his tabloid purposes, Dees stages a more horrific, blood spattered photo.

While it occasionally stoops to stock horror cliches (“Go away” warnings scrawled in blood, scary nocturnal encounters that turn out to be dreams), pic does find ways to make old ideas new. The graveyard scene is both spooky and funny, and there’s a showdown in the late going that uses echoes and mirrors to create an atmosphere of pure terror. Though there’s an unfortunate final dreamscape sequence that plays like an amalgam of a “Living Dead” movie and a Michael Jackson video, Pavia rescues the scene at the last moment and delivers a wily payoff.

Sound design is excellent, with auditory cues that successfully manipulate perception of the viewer and the characters. Brian Keane’s score hits just the right eerie effect. Lensing is above average, but makeup effects are inconsistent, ranging from fake looking welts and wounds of the costume store variety to grisly decapitations and mutilations.

Thesping is strong, especially by leads Entwisle, who registers as a promising newcomer, and Ferrer, his gravelly voice filled with resignation and cynicism, who fascinates even when he’s being a heel.

Popular on Variety

Stephen King's The Night Flier

(Horror --- Color)

Production: A New Line Cinema release of a New Amsterdam Entertainment/Stardust Intl./Medusa Film presentation of a Richard P. Rubinstein production. Produced by Rubinstein, Mitchell Galin. Executive producer, David Kappes. Directed by Mark Pavia. Screenplay, Pavia, Jack O'Donnell, based on a story by Stephen King.

Crew: Camera (color), David Connell; editor, Elizabeth Schwartz; music, Brian Keane; production design, Burton Rencher; set design, Andrew Menzies; set decoration, Timothy Smithwick Stepeck; costume design, Pauline White; sound, Jay Meagher; special effects makeup, KNB EFX Group; associate producer, Neal Stevens; assistant director, Michael Jefferson; casting, Leonard Finger, Lyn Richmond. Reviewed at New Line screening room, L. A., Feb. 4, 1998. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 97 min.

With: Richard Dees - Miguel Ferrer Katherine Blair - Julie Entwisle Merton Morrison - Dan Monahan Dwight Renfield - Merton H. Moss Ezra Hannon - John Bennes Selida McCamon - Beverly Skinner Buck Kendall - Rob Wilds Claire Bowie - Richard Olsen Ellen Sarch - Elizabeth McCormickCamera (color), David Connell; editor, Elizabeth Schwartz; music, Brian Keane; pro-duction design, Burton Rencher; set design, Andrew Menzies; set decoration, Timothy Smithwick Stepeck; costume design, Pauline White; sound, Jay Meagher; special effects makeup, KNB EFX Group; associate producer, Neal Stevens; assistant director, Michael Jefferson; casting, Leonard Finger, Lyn Richmond. Reviewed at New Line screening room, L. A., Feb. 4, 1998. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 97 min.

More Film

  • Andhadhun receives AACTA nomination

    Indian and Chinese Titles Dominate AACTA Asian Award Nominations

    Three Indian and three mainland Chinese films are among the nine feature movies shortlisted for the Best Asian Film Award by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. The Indian selections are box office hit “Andhadhun,” “Super Deluxe, and “Gully Boy,” which premiered in February at the Berlin festival. The Chinese trio includes “Shadow,” [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    Film News Roundup: 'The Two Popes' Wins Audience Award at Miami Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Two Popes” wins an audience award, “A Night with Janis Joplin” and “Fittest in Dubai” get releases, Artists First reorganizes, SAG-AFTRA expands its headquarters and Film Fest 919 announces its winners. AUDIENCE AWARD Fernando Meirelles’ “The Two Popes” has won the audience award at the Miami Gems Film Festival. [...]

  • Scotty Bowers

    Scotty Bowers, Old Hollywood's Sexual Matchmaker, Dies at 96

    Scotty Bowers, a “sexual matchmaker” for dozens of stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood who wrote about his colorful — and sometimes unbelivable — life in his memoir “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars,” died at his Laurel Canyon home on Sunday. He was 96. The [...]

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Introducing On-Demand Movie Service

    AMC Entertainment will introduce an online video store in the United States on Tuesday. Adam Aron, AMC’s president and chief executive, said that the AMC Theaters On Demand will offer about 2,000 films for sale or rent after their theatrical runs — much like Amazon or iTunes. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount have [...]

  • Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers upon

    Scarlett Johansson 'Pushing' for All-Women Marvel Movie

    After the epic battle scene in “Avengers: Endgame” depicted the female superheroes uniting to protect Spider-Man from Thanos, Marvel fans started wondering if they’ll ever see the women unite for a standalone movie. “Captain Marvel” star Brie Larson generated even more buzz when she told Variety that she and other female co-stars have approached Marvel [...]

  • Ivana Lombardi Netflix

    Annapurna Film Head Ivana Lombardi Named Director of Indies at Netflix (EXCLUSIVE)

    Annapurna Pictures president of film Ivana Lombardi is moving across town to Netflix, after almost a year in her role at Megan Ellison’s company. As of Nov. 6, Lombardi will serve as director of independent films at the streamer. She will report directly to Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s vice president of independent film and documentary features. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content