The Horror at 37000 Feet (1973)
How about a title change to “The Horror of The Horror at 37000 Feet.”
When a group of well known television stars hop a plane from London to New York they get more then they bargained for. It turns out some sort of altar from an old English Abbey is in the hold. The altar was used for human sacrifice and it wants another. When our small list of passengers become convinced of the power it possesses we’ll have a mutiny aboard between those who quickly resort to wanting to offer up a small child that is aboard to those with cooler heads.
Chuck Connors and Russell Johnson are our pilots in charge of the flight while our list of cliched passengers include Buddy Ebsen as a snobbish tycoon. William Shatner as a priest who has lost his faith. (Here’s the best chance he’ll ever have of reviving it). Roy Thinnes of The Invaders fame as the archaeologist responsible for the altar being aboard with Paul Winfield, Robert Donner and Tammy Grimes filling out the remainder of the rather small passenger list.
Remember this is a television production at 73 minutes and not another big screen Airport adaptation so plenty of empty seats aboard due to budget restrictions. And where the heck is George Kennedy as Joe Patroni when you need him!
Everything from eerie music over the sound system to a mossy green substance oozing from the hold makes an appearance. Logic goes out the door early on and just seems to increase the silliness of this whole story in flight. How about building a camp fire style flame on board to keep warm after the plane’s temperature plummets. Makes sense to me.
Demonic possessions surface when one of our passengers who you’ll know from the start isn’t quite right comes forward near the climax and hopefully our spiritual guide Bill Shatner can push aside his alcoholic haze and inner demons to battle the one right in front of him.
Television films of the seventies were always a mixed bag of treasures. Some stand out and some are just hard to fathom seeing today. Especially when thinking about the actors having to put themselves through the motions of such an inept script. Then again they are just that, actors. It’s a pay check after all. We see them as these figures that had cool shows on weekly television when times were better though I am sure they would rather be remembered for their past successes then this embarrassing flight.
On the plus side I should think that if this was watched with a group of like minded people on bad cinema this could turn out to be a hoot between the bad acting, outrageous script and the laughable f/x involved in giving the viewers a bit of stomach turning terror.
The film’s director was David Lowell Rich who mainly worked in series TV and the movie of the week features. Strangely enough one has to wonder if this terror of the skies had anything to do with him landing the directorial job for Airport – Concorde ’79. It just might have because that film is arguably just as bad and phony as this one. He even had George Kennedy in that and it still didn’t help save the picture or the plane.
With all due respect to our flight Captain Chuck Connors, perhaps we needed the firm grip of Charlton Heston at the wheel. It’s been a while so how about a Heston cameo……..
I don’t know about you but I’d feel much safer in the skies knowing that Chuck meaning Heston and not Connors was up in the cockpit.