Someday, scholars will speak in awe of the post-Star Trek Satanic twosome of Shatner films, which would be this movie and The Devil’s Rain! Until then, maniacs like me will yell into the uncaring silence and tell you that for a shining moment — or literally two — the once and future Kirk would die twice (spoilers be damned, again literally) while facing off with the Lord of the Flies.
Originally airing on CBS on February 13, 1973, I first learned of this movie in a TV Guide Book of Lists that featured Anton LaVey discussing the most Satanic TV moments of the last decade. This movie has it all: Mario Bava lighting, a cursed altar, Shatner drunk and railing againt humanity, and finally, a bunch of Old Hollywood actors daring to sacrifice a young child to the Left Hand Path.
Sure, the flight from London to New York is supposed to be mainly cargo — that druid altar I hinted at before — but the plane still has plenty of talent on board. There’s Captain Ernie Slade (Chuck Connors), as well as an architect (Roy Thinnes, who would enter this territory again in The Norliss Tapes) and his wife (Jane Merrow, Hands of the Ripper) who have placed said altar on board. There’s also Paul Kovalik (Shatner), a priest who has lost his way, and super rich Glenn Farlee (Buddy Ebsen, who makes it awesome as it’s basically Jed Clampett and Barnaby Jones against Satan). You also get Tammy Grimes — whose daughter Amanda Plummer looks just like her — as well as Lynn Loring (also in the occultist Black Noon), Paul Winfield, France Nuyen (Code Name: Diamond Head), Will Hutchins, Darleen Carr (she’s in the TV remake of Piranha), Russell Johnson (The Professor!) and H. M. Wynant (Hangar 18).
Shot on the sound stages at CBS Studio Center, some people have the wrong idea that this is Shatner’s worst movie. They’re wrong. This movie is everything. My wife looked at me near the end and said, “This is pretty intense for TV.” I told her that life was cheap in 1973.
Director David Lowell Rich would also make Satan’s School for Girls, SST Death Flight and The Concorde … Airport ’79, all movies that some people would make fun of. Not me — this is my bread and butter. It tastes delicious.
You can watch this on YouTube: