The Horror at 37,000 Feet is a 1973 American made-for-television horror movie directed by David Lowell Rich (Satan’s School for Girls; Eye of the Cat) for CBS.
William Shatner, who ten years earlier had starred in the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, plays the lead role. Shatner – whose horror film roles include Incubus, The Devil’s Rain and Kingdom of the Spiders – described his character’s end in the movie as one of his “unique ways” of dying: “I get sucked out of an airplane while carrying a lit torch into the plane’s baggage compartment to try to confront a druid ghost.”
He has also commented: “Now there has been considerable discussion among th true Shatner aficionados about precisely which was the worst movie I ever made. And The Horror at 37,000 Feet does have its supporters […] I played a drunken architect who eventually finds his nobility by fighting unseen ghosts. Ghosts are very popular in low-budget films, by the way, because they can’t be seen!”
Other cast members include Chuck Connors (Tourist Trap), Buddy Ebsen, Tammy Grimes, Roy Thinnes, Jane Merrow (Night of the Big Heat, Hands of the Ripper), Darleen Carr, Lynn Loring, Russell Johnson, Paul Winfield, Will Hutchins.
“Fly the not-so-friendly skies in this frightening tale of survival at 37,000 feet! On a flight from London to Los Angeles, a wealthy architect (Roy Thinnes) and his wife (Jane Merrow) have rented out a jumbo jet’s entire cargo hold to transport a precious artifact — an altar from an ancient abbey. But they’re unaware of its deadly secret.
Aboard for the ill-fated trip are William Shatner as a drunken, cynical ex-priest; Buddy Ebsen as an arrogant millionaire; and Chuck Connors as the heroic pilot.
Not long after departure, crew and passengers alike face airborne jeopardy and supernatural horror as a demonic entity escapes from the altar, seeking to possess a hapless victim as well as seek revenge on those who would desecrate the sinister deity’s ancient ritual site. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a terrifying flight!”
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“To say they don’t make ‘em like this anymore is to put it lightly. There’s a real swingers lounge atmosphere that prevails here with much of the cast chain-smoking, guzzling booze, and making chauvinistic advances to pass the time between attacks. Eventually, though, it is Shatner who has been spewing dramatic monologues about his lost faith in God and humanity who holds the key to their dilemma.”
“From Shatner’s pompous speeches to the 1970s jet-set style—all shag-carpeted walls and stewardesses in mini-skirts—The Horror At 37,000 Feet lays out a smorgasbord of delightful retro-kitsch. Unlike the self-conscious “so bad it’s good” of modern SyFy Originals, The Horror At 37,000 Feet is honestly terrible. It’s an example of producers recklessly and lazily mixing formulae together; and it’s tailor-made for that subset of film-fans who bond over choice garbage.” The Dissolve
“Rather than just being yet another tacky disaster movie, The Horror at 37,000 Feet makes some clever and original choices, for example having a nearly empty airplane. The dialogue is pretty risible at times, but what stands out is the genuinely unsettling atmosphere crafted by the director and assisted by an impressive musical score and some wonderfully eerie sound-effects. As to why the pilots don’t just land the damn plane right away – there really is no explanation for that offered in the movie.” Shatner’s Toupee
“Cinematography, blocking, lighting, line delivery, sets, props, costumes, sound design— none of it ever rises above the level of workmanlike, but none of it ever falls below that standard, either. (Well, okay. William Shatner’s toupee is one of the worst I’ve seen anywhere, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the portion of his hair that’s still permanently attached to his head.) But then you look at the script that all this unpretentious competence has been mustered to realize, and the cognitive dissonance is just mind-blowing.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting