Plane Dead is one of those movies that must have started life as a bull session. Eventually the evening got to the point where someone was giggling about how cool Airplane and the 70s airplane disaster flicks that inspired it were, someone else was ruminating on the success of Snakes on a Plane, and someone else mentioned how much they were looking forward to 28 Weeks Later.
Then, as one, “Zombies on a Motherfucking Plane!”
Well, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. But if it wasn’t, it should have been.
It’s a fun production; it starts out touching on all the 70s airplane disaster movie conventions: the captain who’s about to retire, the sports star, the nun, a criminal being escorted by a cop, randy stewardesses, you name it. The Bad Guys have a secret package with an armed guard down in the cargo hold (dum dum dum!), and the plane flies into a huge storm (dum dum dum!), complete with retro exterior shots of the plane lit by lightning.
With plenty of foreboding, then the action is unleashed.
The storm, of course, triggers the release of the secret cargo, a 28 Days Later style fast zombie created by medical researchers trying to create super-soldiers. At this stage the pace is still pretty measured; people go to check on the cargo, get zombified, and then all hell starts breaking loose, which brings me to beef one with the movie: I don’t think fast zombies really work that well in a plane. They rampage through it way to quickly because, well, it’s a plane, and they’re ferociously quick and lethal. Rupping through bulkheads and so on, they’re unstoppable. It could have had more tension, less turkey-shoot with slow, classic zombies.
Eventually, qiuckly, we’re down to a few survivors. The Evil Scientists get theirs, of course, survivors are rescued only to zombify, there is self-sacrifice and so on. The criminal turns out to be the only one who can land the plane (the pilots having come down with a bad case of zombie) while being pursued by fighter jets with oders to blow them out of the sky.
Beef the second: when one zombie went through the jet engine after being sucked out of a missile-created hole in the side of the plane I was waiting for the zombie spray to infect the pilot behind, or rain down on a city Return of the Living Dead style, or for the jet to actually be blown out of the sky, both of which would have been way cool endings in classic zombie movie style. Didn’t happen. Le sigh.
Of course, landing the plane leaves us with zombie sequel possibilities, as previously ejected zombies drop from the sky into the same desert plane where the survivors are seen marching off into the sunset.
Various cast members from The Mummy are hamming it up here, and there’s some decent acting given the overall silliness of lines (“I made a promise, and I keep my promises!”) and plot (zombies on a motherfucking plane!); the criminal is done especially enjoyably. Good fun overall, but I’d have liked it a bit better with a slightly grimmer ending and the aforementioned Romero slow zombies.