Wednesday, October 9, 2013



Catherine Mary Stewart, Matthew Praed, John Standing, Lisa Blount, Glenn Withrow, James Avery, Helene Udy, Annabel Brooks, and Michael Des Barres. 

Bonus Match: Based on a snack in between lunches by George R.R. Martin.

Please Note: In space, no one can hear SPOILERS.


In the future, a hodgepodge group of experts including biologists, astrophysicists, and of course, psychics board a mysterious space ship to encounter something called “Volcryn”, a rare cosmic event that ends up being just a hula-hoop on fire (this spoils nothing).  The ship is called Nightflyer and is so awesome and futuristic, you’ll want to punch Syd Mead in the face.

The Nightflyer (formerly S.S. Pottery Barn Steam Iron)
Psychics are needed because the head scientist D’Brannin (Standing) believes that Volcryn has intelligence and may be the key to finding extraterrestrial, non-hula-hoop shaped life. This team of bickering scientists is managed by Project Coordinator Miranda (the lovely Stewart) who classes up the dump with her mere presence.

Rest assured that even in the far future, the 1980s are not forgotten.
The group soon discovers that the Nightflyer does not have a crew and is controlled by a sentient hologram named Royd (Praed). Royd falls in love with Miranda and contemplates his existence and desire to leave the ship. This disturbs the crew immensely, especially the tightly wound psychic Linderman (Des Barres), because this is the future and cool futurey innovations like self-aware holograms in control of enormous space ships who pitch a virtual tent for a honey are not to be trusted in the future.

Unless it's at Coachella.
So more bickering and a lot of blah-blah-blah about the objectives of the mission ensue.  Whittling away the hours and the first two acts on the voyage to Volcryn, the Nightflyer passengers ...

Vamp in the hallways...

Sip wine and whine...

And, um, do other stuff.
But something sinister is seething within the walls of the Nightflyer, and it’s not Chef Darryl’s fried octopus platter. By the way, Chef Darryl is played by James Avery, aka Fresh Prince’s Uncle Phil.

"Yeah, Will? Can you get me out of this buuullshit?"
We discover that the Nightflyer was designed by a woman named Adara and that her spirit, or her artificial intelligence gone haywire, or something *SNORT* something is the true force behind the ship.  Feeling threatened by Royd and Miranda's burgeoning relationship, she hunts and kills each member of the team with lasers, robot arms, and gravitational compression (pending approval by Neil deGrasse Tyson). Eventually, Miranda learns that Royd is not just a hologram but an actual person who is held prisoner somewhere deep in the ship.

And he's got a nasty bout of crotch lightning.
Oh yeah, we also discover that Royd is Adara’s biological son who describes his relationship with her as a “companion and a lover”.

Goddamn you, George R. ARRRGGGHHH!
Momma Adara takes on a humanoid form and and is like a total party pooper and takes son/boyfriend to the woodshed for a talkin’ to.

"That Cersei biatch got nothing on me!"
But Royd ain't having it and so he and Miranda must confront the spirit/ghost, hologram/monster, Mom/thing/stuff.



Nightflyers is a weird movie. It’s slow, confusing, and flat.  I’m sure the original book by George R.R. Martin spends more time expanding on its themes of artificial intelligence, extraterrestrial life, and banging good ole Mom, but this adaptation falls flat and feels incomplete. The movie's inconsistent tone and muddled plot points suggest a troubled production and a difficult adaptation of the original material. The first half seems endless and padded with relentless scenes of gibberish and unnecessary exposition and a generous helping of overacting. But Nightflyers hints at bigger ambition as it is influenced by ideas and visuals from preceding films 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Alien.  Some of the movie’s more interesting elements presages future films like Event Horizon (possession and cosmic terror) and Prometheus (robot surgery and nonsense).  It wants to be a big science fiction romance about a couple whose love is spurned by Mom who just happens to be a huge fricking space ship. The end result is cheeseball sci-fi with failed attempts at horror that most of the time look like 80s perfume commercials and Air Supply videos.

"We made this movie ... out of nothing at all."
Nightflyers’ good points are its nostalgic video-age feel and brave New Wave aesthetic combined with the presence of the underrated Catherine Mary Stewart, star of 80s classics Night of the Comet and The Last Starfighter.  I would only recommend the film if you are space horror and/or Stewart and/or Uncle Phil completist.


If you’re doing a Halloween marathon, I would schedule this film early in the evening and possibly with the sound low so the old timers you invited can ogle the short hairdos, floral print blouses, and other 80s oddities. Also, it’s not very scary.  That is, unless, outer space incest is scary.

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