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John’s Horror Corner: Altitude (2010), a totally credible movie about a giant flying squid monster.

October 31, 2012

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See those tentacles on the cover there?  Yup!  Movie SPOILED!

MY CALL:  Okay.  Just skip it.  I plan on spoiling the movie for you.  Just trust me when I say it will be even more spoiled for you if you watch it on your own.  I enjoyed laughing at this flick even though everything was spoiled for me.  Hell, the movie poster spoiled the movie for everyone!  I’ll just leave the very end a disappointing mystery for your own viewing disapproval.  [D+]  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  Hmmm.  Even though it’s not even out yet I’m tempted to go with 7500 (directed by Takashi Shimizu; The Grudge, Ju-On and sequels).  It also takes place on a plane and “something” starts picking people off.  Only these people represent a larger cast in a movie that will actually make it to theaters.  Otherwise, try Final Destination 5.  They make fun use of a plane.  BUDGET:  The effects are too bad for theaters but feel just about right for the sci-fi network, if that good.

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Five friends—Sara (Jessica Lowndes; The Devil’s Carnival, The Haunting of Molly Hartley), Mel (Scream Queen Julianna Guill; who doesn’t even take her top off like she did in that sex scene from the Friday the 13th remake, The Apparition), Cory (Ryan Donowho; The O. C.), Bruce (Landon Liboiron; The Howling: Reborn) and Sal (Jake Weary; As the World Turns)—set off on a trip together on a six passenger plane piloted by Sara, whose mother died while piloting a six passenger plane (dun dun dunnnnn!).

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What?  Oh, yeah.  Like, I’m totes a pilot.

As we meet these late teens we find an immediate sexual triangle between Sal, Cory and Mel (who’s dating uber-douche-jock Sal).  Bruce is Sara’s out-of-place friend-with-benefits who is suspiciously squirrely before getting on the plane—feels like the opening of Final Destination (2000), doesn’t it?  They play out the various forms of teen angst well and clique-like jabs vying for top alpha dog status start almost immediately—still feeling like the Final Destination series.

What’s that we’re flying into?

Just as the bro-jibes start to hit a little too hard for comfort and the boy-girl tension starts rising there is a malfunction with the plane preventing them from descending.  Then, as if it came out of nowhere, they get trapped in a dark cloudy superstorm at high altitudes and now communication and navigation instruments are disabled as well.  Already, this film feels like a disaster film where the greatest downfall is the decomposition of social unity of the group… Sort of Lord of the Flies takes flight.

The problems continue to add up: distrust among the teens heightens, the jerk-off jock Sal is drunk and thinks he sees some “thing” in the clouds, they’re losing fuel for some reason, they have too much cargo, they’re lost, two of them get into a fist fight, another has a panic attack, another overdoses on drugs, and if they try to descend through the dark clouds to put an end to all this nonsense they just may hit a Canadian mountain and die!  But when the wings ice up in high altitudes and someone “has to go outside” to manually fix the rudder-thing that is jammed and forcing them to ascend yet higher they finally work together.  But, hold on.  Some teenager is gonna’ fix the plane wing while dangling outside of a plane soaring through a storm?  Huh!?!?  Well, this leads to “quite a realistic” scene which, in no way, made me glad I gave this flick a chance.

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Yup.  That happens.  He does that…from a plane…at 20 thousand feet, at 200 mph…successfully.  This is as accurate as the medical science backing “The Human Centipede.”

The movie progresses (or, degenerates) and these teens start to die one by one—like ya’ do.  As if we needed anything else to compound these kids’ fate, Sal sees “the thing in the sky” again.  Yup, the tentacled thing that was spoiled for you the moment you saw the movie poster or blu-ray cover.  Evidently there’s a gargantuan flying squid monster up there with them.  How it flies, I have no idea!

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“Just saw a giant flying squid!
Just saw a giant flying squid!
My friend just got eaten by a giant flying…”

Anyway, after fixing the plane—oh, right, the teenager fixed a plane wing with a few dedicated kicks—so it can finally descend they somehow fail to see the ground after 20 minutes!  How high were they?  If they weren’t panicking yet, now it’s really setting in.  They start throwing around crazy hypotheses like they’re part of an experiment, they’ve been drugged, or it’s all a dream.  Thankfully this brainstorming session is interrupted by the thunderous rumblings of the sky kraken.

At this point the aero-octupus is trying to kill them and they’re trying to kill each other.  It’s anybody’s game really.

So what’s going on here?  The reason this is all happening to them is unspeakably stupid and what saves the final survivors is somehow upsettingly yet STUPIDER.  The action finale against the flying octopus should aggravate any and all viewers on the basis of physics, gravity, silliness, and the fact that a skinny teen was in a tug-of-warring stalemate against a 50 ton airborne octopod.  I’ll repeat that last bit even though I’m giving the “big scene” of the movie away here…a teenager pits his strength against something over 500 times his size and ties in a tug-of-war.

This is not happening in the sea.  It’s happening 20 thousand feet above the ground at 200 mph!!!!  I’m pretty sure that their plane would get shredded in the tail winds of this monster, which, by the way, is flying 200 mph backwards while assaulting this plane.

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And the kid basically out-muscles this thing?  This giant, disembodied Emperor Krang?

SCREW THIS MOVIE!  If you thought that an entire movie filmed in the space of a six-passenger airplane was destined to fail, you were right!  I dare I doubt you.

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Mystery, SOLVED. I researched it in this comic book I happened to have with me.

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