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The Horror At 37,000 Feet


As if airline travel wasn’t stressful enough, just try flying the unfriendly skies in an endangered 747 loaded down with a horde of confused ‘70s B-list actors, a demonic relic in the cargo hold and an out of control William Shatner as a drunken priest … taking a Greyhound bus has never looked so appealing!
In the supremely ridiculous 1973 TV Movie of the Week, The Horror at 37,000 Feet, two then-popular early ‘70s film genres – the “all-star airline disaster flick” and “the devil made me do it horror flick” – are awkwardly spliced together into a giggle-inducing buffet of bad acting, cheesy TV production values and incoherent plotting. On a flight from London to Los Angeles, a wealthy architect and his wife have rented out a jumbo jet’s entire cargo hold to transport a precious artifact – a large stone altar from an ancient abbey. But they are blissfully unaware of its deadly secret, and before you can say “your mother sews socks in hell,” a planeload of drunken/hysterical/annoying passengers are hurling through the air at 37,000 feet, fighting for their lives against a mysterious and undoubtedly evil demonic force that threatens to make their flight more uncomfortable than an extended layover at the Newark International Airport! Filled with such wonderful absurdities as go-go-boot-wearing stewardesses who continually fly into hysterics when they should be comforting the passengers, a creepy plastic baby doll that spews green goo from its face, and a rip in the cabin carpeting that supposedly sends the cast into a vortex of pure terror, The Horror at 37,000 Feet also sports a jaw-dropping array of ‘70s Hollywood Squares survivors, including Chuck Conners (The Rifleman), Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies) and Russell Johnson (The Professor from Gilligan’s Island), just to name a few. But all must bow at the feet of the one-and-only William Shatner, who thrashes, grimaces and over-emotes like a man possessed as he takes his role as a red-faced, scotch-swilling, God-renouncing priest to dramatic heights of absurdity that quite simply must be seen to be believed. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy flight! (Dir. by David Lowell Rich, USA, 1973, USA, 73 mins., Not Rated)

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