2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 13: Exorcism at 60,000 Feet (2019)

Day 13: Open Soar: This one should focus on flying or aviation somehow.

“Please keep your tray tables — and crucifixes — in the upright position at all times!”
— from the smartly-written Shout! Factory press kit.

So, did you hear the one about the priest, a rabbi, and an airline pilot captain who boarded a transatlantic airliner — and banned together to fight off a demonic possession pandemic? Did you hear the one about the movie that meshed ’70s disaster flicks with ’70 demon possession flicks? Did you hear the one about the priest who was dumb enough to fly an excised body back to Vietnam?

“I want these motherf*ckin’ demons off this motherf*uckin’ plane!”

No, sorry, Mr. Jackson. That’s not the punch line. Well, maybe just a little bit, Sam. But make no mistake which ’70s disaster classic this horror parody has taken to task. But where’s Captain Mike Brady of SST Death Flight to save the day?

How can this film not excite you the way it excited me!?

I haven’t even spun the trailer, let alone watched the film, and the cast on this has me drooling. We’ve got Robert Miano (280 credits strong, his work dates to William Shatner’s T.J Hooker, along with roles in Donnie Brasco, Girls Trip, and Open House with Adrienne Barbeau), Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead, Near Dark), Bill Mosley (The Devil’s Rejects, Dead Air), Bai Ling (Dumplings), Kelli Maroney (!) (Night of the Comet), the always welcomed Kevin J. O’Connor (The Mummy, TV’s Chicago P.D.), the always very funny Matthew Moy (TV’s Scrubs, iCarly, and as Han Lee in 2 Broke Girls), and of course, the divine Ms. Barbeau (The Fog, Swamp Thing). Come on, now! They even got Johnny Roastbeef (Johnny Williams) from Goodfellas on board!

Dare I write a rip-off script called Demonjacked?

Never has there been a movie more self-aware in its scripting, with its actors going into full scene-chew, with over-the-top acting courtesy of the horror movie alumni-elite of Barbeau, Henriksen, and Mosely — all that’s missing from the cast is Bruce Campbell. So, if you go into this disaster-demon flick hybrid expecting Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 — with an airliner switched out for a woodsy cabin, then you’re in for a great ride in the demon skies. If this was made with a bigger budget and thirty years earlier — with Kurt Russell hamming it up — we have Big Trouble in Little China on a plane. Yes, this movie is that crazy — a hammed-up, FUBAR’d version of the 1973 CBS-TV movie classic The Horror at 37,000 Feet.

And if you’re experiencing Re-Animator déjà vu during the opening title card sequence, that’s because Richard Band (From Beyond) composed the HBO Tales from the Crypt-inspired soundtrack and, to that end: there’s a bit ‘o each of those in the frames. If David Gale, aka Dr. Carl Hill of Re-Animator, aka Dr. Anthony Blakely of Ed Hunt’s whack job The Brain, were still with us, he’d be in Robert Miano’s role as Father Romero. And yeah, if you’re a fan of The Brain, then you’ll have no qualms boarding Flight 666. Just make sure you’re not forgetting your Zucker Brothers brand (Airplane!, Kentucky Fried Movie) luggage and you packed your DVD of that Twilight Zone episode in the bags.

Co-writers Robert Rhine and Daniel Benton have been around the business for a while, with Rhine getting his start as an actor in Hardbodies 2 (1986); Benton’s been scribin’ since the late ’70s with TV episodes of Sledge Hammer! and Police Woman. Director Chad Ferrin got his start with Troma Studios and has made a dozen direct-to-video features, most notably, the totally nuts Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006); here he’s given us a film that looks great; the production values are high, and the cinematography is well-lit and cleanly shot.

Sure, you can stream this at Amazon Prime, but a free-with-ads stream is available on the European F Share TV platform. You can pick up the extras-packed DVDs and Blus direct from the fine folks at Shout Factory.

Hey, by the way, don’t forget to read our Airport: Watch the Series featurette!

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publishes on Medium.

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