Directed by Mark Pavia [Other horror films: Fender Bender (2016)]
I have a bit of a history with this movie, which I’ll get into in detail shortly, but for now, I’ll suffice it by saying that I think The Night Flier is a deeply underrated film, and it’s probably one of the creepiest and best vampire films of the 1990’s, and one of my personal favorite vampire movies of all time (even beating out Fright Night).
Before I go onto the aspects of the film, though, that make this so, let me tell you a story of a young boy named Michael. And for those who don’t know, Michael is my actual name.
Back when I was a kid, my family briefly lived in a small village in New York (the village being Penn Yenn, though that’s neither here nor there as far as the story goes). It was a decently nice house, with both a cellar and an attic, and it seemed large. From the foot of the stairs, you could crouch down and see the television screen clearly, which I did a few times.
And one of the times I did this, my parents were watching The Night Flier (which, if you don’t know, is based off a short story by none other than Stephen King). My parents owned this on VHS, were up late watching it, and I happened to catch some snippets of it.
And it fucking terrified me.
I don’t know all of what I saw when I was a kid. Did I get to the ending and see the vampire in full? I don’t really know. I remember a few scenes I saw (such as the woman getting a perm and watching her husband being killed with a faraway look on her face), but whatever I saw frightened me, so much so that, after my family moved to Indiana, I actually threw the VHS tape down into the basement of the new house, destroying it (which I obviously deeply regret to this day, not only because it’s embarrassing to admit, but because this movie doesn’t have many cheap releases).
So in short, I have a bit of a history with this movie. And sure, that nostalgic value does add a little something to my love of this film, but I like to think that even if I didn’t have experience with this movie while I was a kid, I’d still love it.
First off, that music is amazing. It’s very somber, almost peacefully so, and it lends the film a very dark feel that I think the atmosphere delivers on. This movie has a few funny lines, but there’s very little camp here (which isn’t something that can be said about many King adaptations from the 1990’s), and the atmosphere as a whole is stark and bleak, which of course works well with the conclusion of the film (a conclusion I rather adore).
There’s only four cast members that really matter, being Miguel Ferrer, Julie Entwisle, Dan Monahan, and Michael H. Moss. Ferrer (who had previously been in the mini-series The Stand) did great as the do-anything-for-a-story character, and he was a dick through-and-through, and also, because of that, often entertaining. Entwisle (who was only in a single other film, and married Mark Pavia, the director of this movie) was great as the young, optimistic journalist that gets her spirits crushed entirely. You can’t help but root for her in some form.
Many people can do sleazy, and Monahan (who hasn’t done much in the movie industry past this) does a great job with an upbeat, slimy guy. He plays Ferrer off Entwisle, Entwisle off Ferrer, and doesn’t care as long as he gets that story. He’s also hella entertaining to watch. And though Moss, who plays the killer named ‘The Night Flier’ (which is such a cool name), doesn’t appear until the end, he most definitely leaves his mark.
I also can’t get enough of how The Night Flier was structured narratively. Many of the kills are seen via flashback when Ferrer’s character is interviewing someone, which really helps with the idea that as we’re learning about the gruesome and mysterious crimes as the audience, Ferrer’s character is hearing it for the first time also. There’s even a few dreamy sequences, the most notable one being in the spectacular finale, but another one appears during one of the many flashbacks.
Some of my love for this movie is no doubt nostalgia, but I’ve seen it multiple times in the last few years, and I think it’s a legitimately good movie on it’s own merits, nostalgia be damned. A fantastic film, and one of the most underrated horror films in the history of the whole genre.
But that’s just the humble opinion of a small boy who was frightened by this movie.