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An architect and his wife are flying from London to L.A. with an altar from an ancient abbey secured in the plane's cargo hold. Also aboard the flight are Buddy Ebsen as a pushy millionaire, William Shatner as a drunken, cynical ex-priest, Tammy Grimes as a person with mental problems, and Chuck Connors as the lantern-jawed pilot. Crew and passengers come into jeopardy when an invisible demon escapes from the altar, and threatens the plane in an effort to destroy the architect's wife.Written by
Marty Mckee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The quintessential 1970's TV movie...you can't escape it!
I was 9 years old when I saw this CBS Network movie when it first aired in 1972 and my brother, sister, and I were wide-eyed and scared silly by it! The next day in elementary school it was the talk of the playground and lunchroom discussion was lively! Nothing could beat this until at least Killdozer showed up two years later...
Why is it that after all these years, those of us my age that know such wise things as Scooby Doo went completely downhill with the introduction of Scooby Dumb and Scrappy Doo .....CAN'T get this film out of our heads and it is agreed it is one of the most memorable pieces of TV wackiness every created! I give Horror At 37,000 Feet such a high rating because it successfully ENTERTAINS, no matter how completely schlocky it is. TV movies in the 1970s were quite edgy, you must admit.
They TRIED, whether good or bad, and yet like a lot of music, we always refer back to the 1960s and '70s for pop culture references that just won't die.
Completely serious yet unable to escape its hokey execution, it still comes across as genuinely creepy (that whole thing with the doll as a sacrifice was a jaw-dropper!), and you can't deny that any time this is broadcast on television (thanks to the TNT network lately!), you'll drop what ever you're doing and watch it no matter what time it's on. For an "obscure" TV movie to maintain pure entertainment value after 30 years is an accomplishment, and it's quite alright to LOVE this one and laugh at it.
Chuck Connors and Russell Johnson as pilots, William Shatner as the most drinkingest ex-priest I've ever seen, Buddy Ebson looking like he showed up thinking he must be in some other film, Tammy Grimes with that inexplicable evil smile of glee ("my beautiful dog..." she laments but never actually seemed to worry about it before, rather relishing the nastiness creeping up from the cargo hold). Major plus points for the scene where the stewardess tells Grimes not to say anything to the other passengers about what she just saw, and a split second later a passenger asks what happened and Grimes matter-of-factly states a pilot is dead, and walks away without missing a beat. Also, you gotta love a film that uses that "cricket" sound effect that seems borrowed from War Of The Worlds. Man, and everyone on that plane has SUCH an attitude or issue with something, those who survived the evil creeping up from the cargo area must have at least been left with an ulcer. I've never seen so many actors look like they've just been goosed when trying to look terrified.
Gosh, to think that people once freely walked around in a plane and smoked. 9/11 has truly changed our lives because when I recently saw this film again and the scene where the woman opens a kit with scissors and clippers I just looked at the TV screen as if I couldn't believe what I saw her holding. This film will truly take you back to days when things were just, well, different.
UPDATE May, 2014: It's now available as a barebones DVD, but what would be a dream come true would be a complete DVD treatment with commentary and production information -- Horror At 37,000 Feet is too outrageous to be a lost enigma of the 1970s. With an obvious cult following (as I know many are of the likes of this one, Killdozer, and The Car), it could be a collector's dream come true. How many other TV movies this bizarre can you REALLY remember as well as this one? They just don't make 'em like this anymore, and I cherish each minute I am subjected to when watching HORROR AT 37,000 FEET!!
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