Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 10/10/07 03:08:11

"It’s an entirely different kind of flying altogether!"
3 stars (Just Average)

So, which is the dumber title, the groan-worthy punny “Plane Dead” or the sloppy, overlong double-named “Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane”? However you call the movie (the former was the film’s original international title; the latter was how New Line rechristened it for Stateside distribution), it’s just Zombies on a Plane, and that tells you all you need to know.

The admittedly goofy picture doesn’t quite come with the unashamed self-aware B-movie sensibilities of “Snakes on a Plane” (ah, but then, what else could?), and as such it never becomes the sort of balls-out fun its premise suggests. But it’s still plenty enjoyable as a beer-and-pizza, Friday-night-with-the-pals flick, the sort of thing you can get by with only half-watching, tuning in for the mayhem, tuning out for the filler.

The setup: the government is using a commercial transcontinental flight to transport the coffin of a woman infected with a mysterious zombie virus. Needless to say, there’s a thunderstorm, turbulence, and a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on, eventually resulting in Zombies on a Plane. (For those keeping score: these are Fast Crazy Zombies, not Slow Bumbling Zombies.)

Beforehand, there’s the usual overlong exposition in which we meet all of our stock disaster movie characters: the surfer dudes and their bitchy girlfriends; the slick-talkin’ prisoner and his cop escort; the professional athlete and his wife; the sexy flight attendants and handsome pilots; a couple of tough guys; and, of course, a nun. Oh, and the crazy scientist who came up with the zombie virus in the first place, just so we can have a human villain to boo (and, later, cheer when he’s devoured). They’re all affably played by third/fourth/fifth-tier stars like Dale Midkiff, Erick Avari, Richard Tyson, David Chisum, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Kristen Kerr.

The movie never really tries to be frightening - it’s more after fast-action and quick-gore thrills, the sort of thing that gets horror fans smiling (with, not at). There’s zero suspense on hand. As such, things only really click when the script takes a lighthearted approach toward the material. The convict tosses up some goofy banter; a few of our heroes crack wise; a handful of comic touches are thrown in for good measure (after shooting a zombie in the groin for fun, one hero quips, “Two in the chest, one in the balls, that’s what I say”). Much of the zombie attacks are in good, dirty fun, and the mayhem is plenty enjoyable.

But just how much filler does a movie like this need? Apparently unaware that they can amp up the camp factor without much damage to their final product, the filmmakers stay far too serious for far too long, both in a stretched-out opening act with lots of boring characters doing boring things and in repetitive cutaway scenes to Washington, with military officials discussing the virus and, later, what to do with the infected plane. These moments play it too straight, and frankly, nobody watching Zombies on a Plane cares about that sort of thing (or, more importantly, there’s nothing here to get us to care). There are no memorable non-zombie moments here, and considering the monsters don’t appear until a third of the way through the picture, that’s a problem.

With a heavy thumb on the fast-forward button, however, “Flight” becomes a moderately zany gorefest, enough to make good on a lazy weekend. Call the pals over, pop some brews, and don’t bother trying to keep up with the boring parts.

Reprinted with kind permission from DVD Talk.

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