"The Night Flier" has to be in the overall "Top 5" of Stephen King film adaptations. It may depart from the story in some respects, but the changes are effective for a film.
The excellent Miguel Ferrer, who often pops up in King-based films, stars here as a tabloid reporter, Richard Dees. He seems to have "lost his touch", or at least his boss thinks so, but he gets a chance to cover a juicy new story: a pilot who lands at small, obscure airports and kills the people vampire-style. His victims seem to be entranced by him and, in the case of one woman, infatuated by him, and despite warnings posted throughout the country, no one has reported seeing his plane or turned him in. He calls himself "Dwight Renfield", an homage to both the character Renfield and the actor, Dwight Frye, who played him in the Lugosi version of "Dracula".
But there's also a new reporter in town, Katherine Blair (Julie Entwistle). She is young, perky, enthusiastic . . . everything the jaded, emotionally numb Dees is not. It's a case of "hate at first sight". Dees turns down this story at first, but when Renfield claims another victim, he decides to start following the case. There follows a period of Dees simultaneously stalking and being stalked by his "prey", Renfield, as he interviews friends of victims and witnesses. In the course of this, he dubbs his subject "The Night Flier".And, in case we should wonder just how low he's willing to sink for a good tabloid story, we see him vandalizing a victim's grave by decorating it with dead flowers and smearing his own blood on it. He receives warnings to stop his pursuit of the story, including, in one darkly humorous scene, a Bloody Mary that he did not order for himself. When he inquires, it turns out that the man who ordered the drink for him has disappeared. When he looks at the napkin under the glass, he sees a simple note: "Stop now". Our killer, you see, does not want to have to kill Dees, for reasons that become more clear later. Meanwhile, Dees's more-than-slightly-devious boss has encouraged Katherine to pursue the story herself, and laughs delightedly when he learns that the two are staying at the same motel and are therefore bound to bump into each other . . . and butt heads.
They do, in fact, meet up, and Dees convinces Katherine that he wants to join forces. The two start working together and eventually come up with a hot lead: Dees talks to a supervisor at an airport who is clearly lying when he claims not to have seen Renfield or his plane.
The two plan to go to said airport together, but Dees pushes Katherine into a closet in his motel room and locks her in, intent on keeping the story for himself (Renfield has become something of an obsession for him). He arrives at the airport and finds himself surrounded by Renfield's freshly-killed victims. Any doubt that he had actually been tracking a "real vampire" goes out the window. He begins taking pictures, but soon is unable to remain his usual stoic self and becomes physically ill. Enter Renfield, who we cannot see at first, as we are looking into a mirror in Dees's POV, but who we hear in the form of footsteps and see in the form of smashing mirrors and stream of blood instead of urine going into a urinal.
Here follows the ultimate, final confrontation between "journalist" and "subject", in what is possibly one of the most intensely frightening scenes I've ever seen. After demanding that Dees open his camera and destroying the undeveloped film, Renfield explains why he does not want to kill Dees. You see, Dees, in his own way, is a vampire . . . a tabloid journalist who "feeds" on human depravity and tragedy by making his living on the stories he covers. Renfield sees him as a kindred spirit, but still threatens to "swallow Dees whole" if Dees continues to track him.
As Renfield is making his escape, Dees chases after him, demanding to see his face . . . which we, the audience, have not seen, either, at least not in its entirety. Renfield complies, and we get our first real glimpse of an absolutely wonderful mask made by KNB. Again, one of the creepiest things I've ever seen.
Renfield decides to feed Dees his blood, and there follows a hallucinatory, black-and-white, Night-Of-The-Living-Dead only with Vampires scene that comes to a head when Dees decides to use an axe to defend himself against this horde of undead creatures.
Then, as the police enter, we transition to color again, and we wonder . . . was there really a Renfield, or did Dees actually do the killing to begin with? Was it really him all along? That question is answered for us, however, when Katherine, who has escaped the motel room and is on the scene, looks out a window and catches a glimpse of our vampire as his human-looking self. (We also know from a glimpse of pictures in an album he keeps inside his plane that Katherine looks very much like a woman he loved before becoming what he now is . . . was she with him in a past life? Does she feel an emotional connection to him because of that? We'll never know). The police are forced to shoot Dees when he comes at Katherine with the axe, and when one of them asks who he is, Katherine answers, "His name is Richard Dees . . . we call him the Night Flier". Dees is dead . . . long live Katherine.
A definite "must see" if you're a fan of King, Vampires, or both. Cheers.