Friday, December 23, 2011

One A Week Reviews #51: Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane

What other Christmas present would Big Lug Land have for you other than the review of a truly campy, trashy, and fun movie? It's a lump of fun for your stocking!

I love awful movies set on airplanes. Be it any of the four Airport flicks, Turbulence one, two or three, Snakes on a Plane, Murder on Flight 502 or even Skyjacked, dumb airline thrillers are a particular thrill for me. If anything it's a wonder I waited so long to see this. Maybe it's just because I never fly on any of these giant two-story wide-bodied jets... I fly Southwest (I'm not famous, no worries about getting thrown off).

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane is actually a smart conceit. It confines a ravaging, throat-ripping attack like this in one of the ultimate isolated environments. There's literally nowhere to go, and nowhere to land. Most zombie films turn into sieges, anyhow. You couple that with the fact that a) most people hate flying and b) planes are claustrophobic, and you have the makings of a good, high-concept, Saturday night potboiler of a flick... and "Zombie Hijacking" pretty much qualifies as "high concept."

This one opens up mid-flight with an Apartment 3-G trio of stewardesses excited to go to Paris, a criminal cuffed to a cop, and a group of scientists transporting one of their own who's stored in an icebox in the cargo hold... because she's infected with a ZOMBIE VIRUS. When the pilot, who's of course on his last flight before retirement, powers through some rough weather, the turbulence winds up opening up the techno Coleman cooler, she pops out looking and acting normal, but quickly goes the Full Brain-Munching-Monty. You can't blame her after her guard shoots an Uzi at her in the plane's cargo hold (which resembles my basement more than any airplane I've ever been on).

(Yeah, it gets ugly from here on out...)

Word of advice:  Just ignore the wanton gun play going on during this flight. Seriously, the amount of shooting is ridiculous. The idea that they might shoot through the hull of the plane NEVER concerns them. They also blow stuff up on the plane. Bloody thing must be built outta Titanium.

This movie wastes no time getting moving, and thankfully isn't too loaded up with extraneous passengers who each have their own subplot. There's some dumb kids, an African-American golf pro, an air marshal, and even a nun, but they're loosely sketched out, since most of their character arcs are compromised by the brain eating. I think someone ate the writer' brains, too.

Turbulence, an escaped prisoner, and a simmering cat fight are all just window dressing once the zombie outbreak starts in the hold then makes it's way to the passengers, who then try to defend themselves on a very limited amount of turf. The blood-smeared, yellow-eyed zombie stews and scientists make for effectively entertaining zombies, too, as they're soon crawling through the duct work (!) and invading first class. They make very quick work of the passengers and trash the plane to boot. A shame, I can't remember when I've been on one with restrooms that large, either...

There's a few semi-famous faces here. Kevin J. O'Connor, Erick Avari, and Richard Tyson are the most immediately recognizable faces here, with Siena Goines and Raymond J. Barry also ringing a bell. Dale Midkiff should be recognizable, but between glasses, bad hair, and a filled-out face I didn't know it was him in a glorified cameo until the credits rolled. They're all those terrific, dependable, workhorse actors you see pop up everywhere. Lead Stewardesses Kristen Kerr and Mieko Hillman are also charming actresses. The blood flows freely, the gore's acceptable and the CGI effects and flight shots mostly please... Have your popcorn at the ready - this ain't great, but it's a hoot. Highly, trashily recommended.

(Thought: at one point they open the door in-flight... uh, I thought airplane doors opened in and there was about 80 pounds of pressure per square inch on-them... but why let science get in the way of a fun story?)

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