Judge David Johnson is tired of these mother-@#$%$@ zombies on this mother-@#$#%@%# plane!
Un-Dead at 30,000 feet
The zombie genre gets yet another entry, this one with an amusing title and a familiar premise.
Facts of the Case
On an international flight, a small group of strangers are about to square off against an incredible evil that drools blood and growls. And no, I'm not talking about rabid Corgis! Ba-da-bing! It's a zombie infestation and @#$% on this plane is about to get real.
A scientist has covertly smuggled a volatile experiment onboard; an ethically-dubious bit of research that can supposedly regenerate dead tissue. When a lightning storm rocks the plane in mid-flight, this experiment is unleashed on the unsuspecting passengers, and flesh-eating, yellow-eyed maniacs are soon running wild, tearing out throats, chomping on limbs, and generally being disgusting and intrusive.
A handful of survivors, led by an Air Marshal (Richard Tyson), a cop (David Chisum), and a wise-cracking criminal (Kevin J. O'Connor), must blast their way to safety before finding themselves shred to pieces in the small confines of a flying death coffin.
Right away, let me just go ahead and recommend Flight of the Living Dead. There's noting terribly original here, and yes influences from Snakes on a Plane are corny (the sub-title "Outbreak on a Plane" is a bit much), but the folks in charge of this undead escapade get enough right to merit it a thumbs up from me, and I've seen so many zombie movies I deserve some kind of honorary degree from Fangoria magazine.
The movie is fast, fun, and messy as all get-out and, in the end, that's about as much as I look for in a simple zombie film. Don't expect much social commentary or subtlety, though I suppose if you looked hard enough you can find some muddled statements about unethical genetic experimentation and shadowy, conspiratorial government machinations, but that's really par for the course. Nope, the dudes behind Flight of the Living Dead just want to vomit out a good time on a shiny, optical disc…and they do.
The number one thing this film's got in its corner is the final half hour. The first two-thirds of the runtime are mainly just set-up for the big-ass last act—a non-stop action set-piece of zombies getting shot and victims getting gnawed upon. I'd probably be harder on the deliberate pacing in the beginning, if the payoff wasn't so substantially satisfying. There is just a ton of gags here, with multiple death variations, anti-zombie weapon customization, and a series of well made-up undead grist for the kill mill. The result: a wholly satisfying, mayhem-laced, zombie shoot-em up that's a lot like the final level of a video game. Hey, there's even a boss fight and a dope, Die Hard 2-esque final bad-guy kill.
Overall, the characters were fine, though none stand out too much. The two gunslinging heroes are your typical Alpha-male, shoot first and talk trash later variety and that's fine. Kristin Kerr plays the female protagonist, a non-descript stewardess who mainly screams a lot, but does have a few kick-ass moments. If anyone approaches notability, it's O'Connor as the goofy prisoner-turned-zombie-smasher. The guy has a good comedic delivery and plays his role with the eye-winking self-awareness that's needed in these kind of blood-spewing jaunts.
Which brings me to the major complaint I have about the film: it's not terribly funny. The film isn't a straight-out parody, but it's not a scholarly treatise on the teleological flaws of man either. I was hoping for some more jokes and one-liners, and while O'Connor gives it his all, it's not enough to make Flight of the Living Dead a true laugher.
New Line's offered up another strong DVD. The film receives a nice 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, boasting strong color work and an overall clean picture quality. Two kinetic surround tracks—DTS-ES (!) and Dolby Digital—deliver the goods. Extras: a subdued commentary track from the filmmakers, an amusing but weirdly superfluous track with editors from IGN.com and an outtakes reel.
Bloody, fun, and well-executed, Flight of the Living Dead makes for an entertaining fright night.
The accused is cleared for take-off.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
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