With expectations of miniscule budgets and sub-par acting, it is easy to dismiss made-for-TV movies. While this certainly seems to be the case with films made for television in present times, 1973’s The Horror at 37,000 Feet proves that films released in this format can actually be worth your time.
I’ve always said that the best horror movies are those which take place in very confined areas, a small building, a train, or in this case, an airplane. On this plane are a small number of passengers, managing to still provide enough character variety to keep things unsettling. We have a millionaire, a doctor, a parent-less little girl, a model, an alcoholic ex-priest, an actor, an obsessive Pagan quack, and an architect and his wife who seem to be the cause of all this terror.
Successful architect, Alan O’Neill (Roy Thinnes), has taken aboard this small flight an 11,000 pound altar, excavated from his wife, Sheila’s (Jane Merrow), family estate. With this altar, apparently, has come druid spirits, angry at the fact that they’ve been uprooted from their rightful home. It is now up to the O’Neills and the rest of the passengers to figure out how to appease the spirits, and stop the horror, high in the sky.
The acting was surprisingly well-done in this film. Leading the way, naturally, was the performance by the famous William Shatner. Shatner’s portrayal of the now faithless and hopeless ex-priest is a perfect fit for this film’s script and ties in wonderfully for how things unfold, in the end.
The exterior shots of the plane are clearly those of a model aircraft, but it does not take away from the effectiveness, reminding us, the audience, that the characters being tormented are indeed stuck 37,000 feet in the air, with no way of escape. Additionally, the effects seen throughout the film are impressive enough to satisfy horror fans, as long as you can keep in mind The Horror at 37,000 Feet is a 1973 low-budget production.
While I wish Paramount had released this film in widescreen and thrown in some bonus features, it is still a great addition to your DVD collection, nonetheless. Be sure to pick up a copy, upon it’s official release, Tuesday March 18.
I give this film 3 baby dolls out of 5.