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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 98: Flight Of The Living Dead

Flight of the Living Dead
It's still better than sitting next to a crying baby

Happy Passover and Happy almost Easter everyone. If you celebrate neither, happy Saturday. I’m on the road this holiday weekend, so there won’t be a Creature Feature Saturday. Instead, you get zombies! Yay zombies! Everyone loves zombies (well, maybe not their victims and people that like tween vampire romance novels). Zombies have been the “it” thing for the past few years, partially thanks to The Walking Dead. Whether or not you like the comic book/television show, TWD has brought zombies into people’s homes for better or worse. Zombie movies now have to up the ante to grab the audience’s attention. Or you can just put zombies on a plane and let them go nuts.

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak On A Plane (get it?) is a 2007 zombie movie starring David Chisum (Charmed, JAG) as officer Truman Burrows. Truman is on a flight to Paris, transporting criminal Frank Strathmore (Kevin J. O’Connor, Lord of Illusions, The Mummy). Also aboard the flight is famous golfer, William “Long Shot” Freeman and his estranged wife, Anna, a couple of dude bros and their skank girlfriends, and scientist, Leo Bennet (Erick Avari, Mr. Deeds, The Mummy). Bennet has brought on board a highly classified and dangerous case, so dangers in fact that an armed guard is stationed to watch it at all times. It turns out the case contains a scientist infected with a new strain of malaria, created by Bennet, that is capable of reanimating the dead. The plane flies through a storm and bad turbulence causes the case to open and the scientist to escape. She turns into a zombie and bites the guard. Two scientists with Bennet go to check on the case and are turned into zombies themselves. Truman is knocked out during the turbulence and Frank manages to escape. The zombies start killing off passengers, but know one knows exactly what is happening. The stewardess, Megan, revives Truman, and they believe the Frank is the cause of the killings. They are joined by a TSA Agent, Paul (Richard Tyson, Cullen Crisp from Kindergarten Cop) to search the plane. Frank comes out of hiding and it’s up to the group, joined by Long Shot and his wife to stop the zombies and land the plane safely before the government shoots it down.

I'm sorry I asked for a pillow! I'M SORRY!!

A lot of zombies movies in the past few years have tried to jump on George Romero’s “…of the Dead” idea. To be fair, this movie was originally titled “Plane Dead.” I’m not sure why they changed it, but let’s go with “Because they realized it was a really stupid title.” It’s easy to dismiss the movie as just being a zombie movie on a plane. Sure, that’s the basic premise, but it puts much more effort into character development and story than you’d think. The movie introduces enough characters that the audience will actually care when they are eaten and turned into zombies. Plenty of zombie movies forget to do that, either giving us just a few characters and not enough zombie-turning or giving us too many characters, but not having them change.  Flight of the Dead has lots of fun zombie-movie violence and plenty of blood. The zombies look good with nice makeup and yellow contact lenses.

Logic does take a back seat at points during the movie. Firing guns and setting off a homemade bomb inside and pressurized cabin at 30,000 just doesn’t sound like a good idea. Another problem was seeing people snatched by zombies and then having them show up later as zombies themselves. What, did the zombies get tired of eating them? This happened more than a few times and it always bothers me when horror movies do that. Some of the blue screen effects used in the movie look good and some, particularly towards the end, look downright terrible. Perhaps they were hitting their budget and had to cut some corners. All that being said, the movie is still fun to watch, despite the suspension of disbelief. Chisum and O’Connor actually have great on-screen chemistry and make for a fun comedy team. Erick Avari also does well in his role as the sort-of villain.

And his smile just lights up a room

Flight of the Dead may seem like a cheap direct-to-video zombie fest, but it deserves more credit. The story is decent enough, the acting is good, and there is plenty of bloody violence. There are some problems in terms of logic, but I guess when it comes to a movie about zombies on a plane, you can let things slide. Its not good enough to be on the big screen, but it is certainly a good DVD purchase.


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