Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I can't extend much criticism to a movie called FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, since I once contemplated writing a screenplay with the exact same title. I will say, though, that the film's subtitle (OUTBREAK ON A PLANE) is just plain ridiculous. This 2007 production from director Scott Thomas makes no attempt to hide the fact that it's a generic B zombie picture, trading on the success of other B pictures, and going in with the right frame of mind will make watching it a lot more bearable.

Even the premise itself is straight out of Hack Sci-Fi/Horror 101; a group of scientists (including Dale Midkiff, who hasn't learned much about acting since PET SEMATARY) on the lam from the CIA are on a flight from L.A. to Paris, along with a cadaver infected with their genetically-modified virus--a modified strain of malaria that somehow resurrects the dead; I don't buy it, either, but the zombies have to come from somewhere, people. After introducing the passengers--which include a Tiger Woods-ish pro golfer, a soon-to-be extradited convict (LORD OF ILLUSION's Kevin J. O'Connor), and a handful of cookie-cutter obnoxious teens--the cadaver awakens and escapes, turning its victims into bright-eyed, screeching zombies.

None of this is to be taken seriously, and director Thomas never asks us to. FLIGHT's primary concern is braindead fun, as the zombie outbreak gradually spreads and those that aren't transformed are devoured in frenzied bursts of CGI-rendered gore. (The film's reliance of computer-generated effects tempers much its excitement, giving them an artificial and bland quality that takes viewers out of the moment.) After a rather slow first half the action picks up and glides along at a rapid clip, moving us from one splattery sequences to the next without giving us a chance to think about just how stupid it all is (if you're the type of person who nitpicks when it comes to scientific accuracy in movies, this movie will frustrate you immensely). The ride would've been a lot more fun if I'd given a rat's ass about anyone in the cast (characters here are based more on looks than personality, though Derek Webster as the golf phenom does get a chance to stand out), but I'll admit I enjoyed the zombie action, especially its climax as the hull is damaged and the ravenous undead are sucked into the stratosphere. I also liked the movie's final scene, which is no great shakes in the originality department, but is nicely done and ends on the right doom-inducing note.

FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD's philosophy is that of most straight-to-disc releases, give 'em what they want and screw the rest. A fun way to kill a slow evening without investing any brain cells, but I doubt I'll be giving this one a second look.

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