Flight of the Living Dead (2007)

Every time I think I've seen the laziest, least thought-through movie that a bunch of talentless no-hopers could manage to actually raise the funds for, another movie comes along to further destroy my faith in humanity. Flight of the Living Dead, previously known as Plane Dead, is abominable. It just sucks.

The basic premise sounds promising: some zombies get loose on a plane in the middle of a transatlantic flight, and chaos ensues. The fact that it's set on a plane draws instant comparisons with Snakes on a Plane, but while Snakes on a Plane was a gleeful romp with the gore and hilarity amped up as far as it could feasibly go, Flight of the Living Dead is uninspired, dull, and nonsensical. It becomes obvious very, very early on that no-one has put any thought into this movie.

Its first mistake is taking far too long to get to the zombies. The plane in question is only half full - as remarked upon by a group of identikit air hostesses - but the filmmakers are determined to show us each and every one of them. Unfortunately, they didn't bother with characterisation; or, at least consistent characterisation. There are two young couples on the plane, and we're told that the girls don't get on, because one of them is a "bitch", apparently. Cut to the bitch in question politely asking her boyfriend if he wouldn't mind picking her up a Diet Coke on his way back from the bathroom. Ummm... right. There's a famous golfer in first class, who's been allowed to bring his prized golf club into the cabin with him. No prizes for guessing what he'll be hitting with it later on. There's a policeman handcuffed to a dangerous criminal who, we're told, once stole a jet and crashed it into... something or other. There's a guy with really bad hair and a mullet (played by the wolf from Big Bad Wolf!) who is, apparently, some kind of air marshall. There are some creepy scientists in first class, who are a bit worried about some biological nonsense they've stored in the cargo hold; and there are two pilots, one of whom is completing his last ever flight. Oh, and there's a nun. The endless yapping of pointless characters doesn't do anything to build tension other than make you wish they'd get on with it already.

Eventually, the plane hits some turbulence and the strange glowing containers in the cargo hold get knocked over. It's zombie time! But these aren't like any zombies you've ever seen before: they run, they fly, they hiss, they crawl, and they hide. They have glowing yellow eyes, and they manage to find organs to chew on that don't exist inside any living human being on Earth.

In the process of fighting them, an insane amount of guns appear - were airport security having a day off, or something? - and someone fashions a bomb out of a dozen canisters of propane and some spoons. This does nothing apart from causing a machine gun to appear out of nowhere. One bullet is shown to rip through the floor of the plane and hit a person on the other side of it; most of the others, presumably, bounce harmlessly off the walls and windows. Supposedly, parts of a real plane were used in making this film, but it's hard to believe - it looks like it was filmed in someone's garage, and they don't even bother to shake the camera most of the time to make you believe it's moving. The external shots of the plane become increasingly laughable; since the plane is stuck inside a storm cloud, it's all dark swirly clouds with a rubbish, CGI-looking plane floating in the middle, until a fighter jet turns up, at which point it's sunset.

The set design is probably the worst thing I've ever seen. There are scenes set inside the Pentagon, where a group of men sit in a room with grimy, streaky grey walls. At some point, the zombies rip a hole in the floor of the plane, into which many many people proceed to fall. Shots from inside the hole suggest it's only a couple of feet deep, confirmed by the length of time between someone falling into it and the "thud" sound effect denoting they've hit the bottom. Quite apart from the fact that I seriously doubt the floors of planes are just made of easily-rippable carpet, why is there a two-foot hole underneath it? Well, there isn't - later, the zombie hole seems to lead into part of the cargo hold, as a group of zombies are shown standing below the hole. They're all, also, completely unable to reach the top from where they are, so quite how they ripped the hole in the first place is beyond me.

The zombie hole's TARDIS-esque proportions are far from being the most bizarre spacial anomaly in the film, though. At one point, one of the young girls goes to the bathroom to be sick. For a while, it looked like a zombie was going to come out of the toilet, which would have been weird enough, except then a zombie bursts out of the mirror. Then another one. Other passengers break down the toilet door in time to watch the zombies drag the girl down into ... er, nothing. There's nothing there; on the other side of that mirror is the plane's cabin. There is literally no way anyone but the Candyman could have emerged from the space they pop out of. And then proceed to disappear back into, because these are stealth zombies who only want to attack one person at a time before disappearing back into the zombie hole.

It's not a complete waste of time - there were two moments I quite liked. One was when a zombie got stabbed through the head with an umbrella, which then opens up on the other side of her skull. Nice. The other is a zombie who hadn't managed to unbuckle his seatbelt before he got bitten, and spends the whole film struggling to catch people running past. Unfortunately, this is later ruined when some bright spark opens the plane's door so that the zombies will be sucked out. The one who's still stuck in his chair flies out through the opening and collides with the fighter jet behind the plane, which promptly explodes.

Let me just repeat that, since it is patently nonsense. A zombie strapped to a seat collides with a fighter jet, and it explodes.

And that isn't even the worst of it. There's one particularly distinctive zombie who we recognise as one of the evil scientists responsible for the outbreak. When the plane's door is opened, we see him get sucked into the engine and burned up in shitty CGI fire. Fair enough, you might think. Only when the plane is crash landed, he turns up again, hobbling after the survivors. Granted, the lower half of his body has completely disappeared, so he's walking on his hands, but -- the filmmakers made a point of showing us his demise. They deliberately made sure we were watching when he got sucked into the engine and cremated. So to have him show up again at the end is... well, it's just bad filmmaking, isn't it? It's a complete failure - or refusal - to pay attention to what they're doing, or to show any respect for their audience, or even to make an entertaining film.

The worst part is, it would have been so easy to make a cheap and cheerful horror film about zombies on a plane. With just a tiny bit more care and attention paid to the script (the dialogue throughout is fucking terrible, by the way, but that probably went without saying!) this could have been good, and all the budgetary restraints could have been forgiven. As it is, it's just a really shitty film.

IMDB link


Oli said...
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John Seavey said...

Sorry, but I can't agree with you here.

Well, OK, actually I can agree with you, because the movie was terrible, but it was terrible in an entertaining sort of way. I loved the long introductory sequence; there was just something so cheerfully unapologetic about the way they loaded up all the zombie fodder, giving everyone appropriate levels of morality so that you could tell what order they'd become zombie chow in. (And I especially loved the banter between the cop and the prisoner--not sure whether it was the dialogue or the chemistry between the two actors, but every time they were on screen together, I was laughing.)

And yes, the interdimensional portal in the mirror was absolutely hilariously dim...which was, to me, the point. "Hilariously dim". This movie was bad, but it at least had the good sense to be bad in entertaining ways. Say what you will about it (and you did) it was never plodding or dull. It was a movie that had the guts to say, "Our film has Tiger Woods fighting zombies, and we're not even going to try to hide it!" I say go, man, go. :)

(By the way, the machine gun didn't appear out of nowhere. It was the gun the guard was using at the beginning, when he shot the first victim. They knew it was down in the hold, and set off the bomb to clear out the zombies so they could get to it. But I think that by then, you'd probably just given up on the film as making sense, and I can't say as how I blame you. :) )

Honestly, some of it might be expectation management--I read your review before seeing the film (but after purchasing it), so I was expecting something irredeemably terrible, and the presence of actual jokes and action was a pleasant surprise. But I enjoyed this movie. Wasn't good, but I enjoyed it.