Kudos to the film crew for producing this film while the sound stage was on fire. I’m assuming there must have been quite a blaze to supply so much smoke in every scene. Alternately it could have been the many, many candles and torches on the giant space freighter from the future.
The sets and smoke may have been ridiculous but they were ambitious. Night Flyers could not have been a completely low-budget film. Hair styling alone must have cost a fortune. Lots of spiky mullets and hairspray. Then there’s the budget for shoulder pads. Even if they got them in bulk it must have cost a pretty penny. Watching Night Flyers is like sitting through a very long Duran Duran video. People don’t act so much as pose. The soundtrack is not so much music as it is clumps of synthesizer sounds. The plot is not so much a plot as a mashup of The Boy In The Plastic Bubble and 2001.
The sets are the best part, or what you can see of them through the smoke. The curving walls, angular lines, and super high ceilings look nothing like a spaceship but they are visually fun. The whole film is visually fun. Maybe not in the way the director intended but fun nonetheless. Surprisingly there is no gratuitous nudity. Back in the 80s in order to get funding many movies had to sign contracts that were incredibly specific concerning nudity. They had to show bare breasts a certain number of times and for a certain number of minutes. Then there were options for bare butt shots. It was all codified.
No sex but Night Flyers gets a little gory near the end which is helpful. It could have used more. Less smoke, more blood. There are no drippy-toothed aliens, just a rogue computer with an Oedipal complex, but the plot keeps moving and the lighting keeps changing so you stay relatively engaged.
The film was based on a George R. R. Martin novella so most of the characters die. Night Flyers was made in 1985 and could never be mistaken for a movie made in any other era. It is a potent time capsule. Night Flyers is one of only three films directed by Robert Collector. He had his name removed from Night Flyers and replaced with a pseudonym, T. C. Blake. Apparently, he left before post-production was finished. It didn’t fare well at the box office, but there are worse ways to spend an afternoon.
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