The occupational similarities between tabloid journalists and more classically trained vampires give Stephen King’s The Night Flier (New Line) a limited but welcome infusion of energy. The utilitarian spooker — based on a short story by King, it originally aired on HBO and has been assembled by coscreenwriter-director Mark Pavia with made-for-TV efficiency — stars Miguel Ferrer as Richard Dees, a reporter at a National Enquirer-type rag, who is so jaded that he no longer even gets off on his own fame as the paper’s investigative star.
Dees drinks alone, smokes a lot, and mercilessly bullies a fetching new reporter (Julie Entwisle). Still, he’s byline proud enough to take on the case of a mysterious caped character whose MO is to land his sinister-looking black plane in the spooky dark of night and feed on the blood of locals, leaving behind a succession of chomped-up corpses. Tabloid Guy is tough. (He’s competitive, too, with the rookie who wants a piece of the story.) But Vampire Guy is tougher, feeding on humans with even less compunction than his laptop-toting pursuer.
“Never believe what you publish and never publish what you believe” is Dees’ motto, and it might as well be adapted by this picture, which is as impersonally designed as a car commercial. Once the easy joke about the fellowship of bloodsuckers has sunk in and the versatility of latex in the creation of gore has been demonstrated, there’s not much else going on — not creepiness, not scariness, not Twilight Zone nostalgia. What personality there is comes from Ferrer, who, with a belligerent glower, throws himself into the role of the soul-dead reporter with a full-blooded intensity that’s almost more than this undead caper can handle. D+