The Night Flier (Mark Pavia, 1997, USA/Italy)

The Night Flier is a 1997 adaptation of the Stephen King story of the same name. The story itself was written in 1988 for a horror anthology, and later published in King's 1993 collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Hard to find these days, The Night Flier is an Italian co-production that was independently financed - notably with the involvement of Richard B. Rubinstein, who is behind many King adaptations including Pet SemataryThinnerThe Stand miniseries, and The Langoliers. The film is directed by Mark Pavia and written by Pavia and Jack O'Donnell. 

While the film was originally intended for theatrical release, it ultimately ended up being released on HBO (it did later have a small theatrical release). It is surprising to learn, as the film feels very much like a TV movie. What elevates the film overall is the performance by Miguel Ferrer, whose character actor persona as an intense jerk from films like Robocop and shows like Twin Peaks was fully defined at this point. Ferrer plays Richard Dees, the cynical tabloid reporter at the heart of the film who is trying to uncover the murderous deeds of the "Night Flier," a killer who stalks small airfields from his small plane.

Pavia is fairly faithful to King's story, although he stretches the material by adding competition with a naive young female reporter who represents Dees' adversary. While the material probably would have been best served by a Tales from the Crypt style half-hour episode, it ultimately is one of the better short adaptations of King's works. While it is unclear why Dees' character is so obsessed about a job that is ultimately something disreputable, the film's finale - wherein he meets the "Night Flier" - is quite memorable. The film is heavy on atmosphere and worth visiting at least for vampire fans.



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