Richard Dees [Miguel Ferrer], ace reporter for the tabloid newspaper Inside View is
offered a new assignment. Some sicko who calls himself Dwight Renfield, as
in Dwight Frye who played the role of Renfield in the 1931 movie version
of Dracula, is flying from desolate airport to desolate airport in his
black Cessna Skymaster 337, tail number N101BL, killing whomever is there
and then drinking their blood--and no one has caught him yet. However,
Dees thinks the story is a waste of his time and suggests that editor
Merton Morrison [Dan Monahan] give the assignment to cub reporter Katherine Blair [Julie Entwistle], whom
Dees has unaffectionately nicknamed "Jimmy," after Jimmy Olson of Superman
fame. The next morning, after Katherine has been able to tap into a network
of local law enforcement agencies on her computer and find three cases
that all meet the batty flier's M.O., Morrison again asks Dees to take the
assignment. This time, Dees agrees. Needless to say, Katherine isn't
pleased. Dees has his own airplane and decides to run the killer's back
First stop is the Cumberland County Airport in Falmouth, Maine, where Claire Bowie was killed. Dees gets the details from Ezra Hannon [John Bennes] on how, as he was turning over the night shift to Claire, the night-flying Skymaster landed. Out of the airplane walked a man wearing a long black cloak. The next morning, Hannon found Claire washing down the Skymaster. The morning after that, Claire was found with his throat ripped open. The only strange thing that Hannon can recall was under the luggage bay--a big pile of dirt filled with worms and maggots. That night, Dees pays a visit to Claire's grave in order to get a photograph. Later, after drinking 3/4ths of a bottle of booze and bedding down for the night at the Cumberland Motel, Dees dreams that someone wearing a long black cloak is after him. When Dees looks out the patio door, however, he sees written on the glass in what looks like blood, "STAY AWAY." Dees chalks it up to a cemetery caretaker who gave him a hard time while he was trying to photograph Claire Bowie's grave.
Second stop is New York, the Alderton Funeral Home, where Buck Kendall is laid out ready for the funeral director to sew up the deep gashes in his face and the two big holes on opposite sides of his neck. In a call that evening to Morrison, Dees learns that Morrison is getting antsy. He wants to run the story about the Night Flier, but Dees is not ready to give it yet, so Morrison has a brainstorm. He puts Katherine back on the story.
Third stop for Dees is Duffrey, Maine, where Ray and Ellen Sarch were the Night Flier's third and fourth victims. Unfortunately, the Duffrey airport is closed, so Dees has to land at Washington National, rent a car, and drive into town. On the way, he comes upon a car crash. Several people have been killed and are laying all bloodied on the pavement and in their cars. While photographing a young boy, Dees sees the boy's face suddenly change into that of an older man with a chain hanging out of his mouth. Dees is taken aback, but the policeman telling him not to get in the way interrupts his vision. Dees stops at a gas station in Duffrey. The owner tells him how he filled Ray and Ellen's tank the day before the murders. Ray was looking tired and pale, but Ellen was looking "fine." The owner suggests that Dees talk to Selida McCammon, Ellen's hairdresser. Selida tells Dees that she thought it odd for Ellen, after 20 years of appointments as regular as clockword, to suddenly come in two weeks early. Plus, Ellen seemed all dreamy to Selida, looking "like a schoolgirl with a crush," and asking for a new look that made her appear sensuous and younger. Ellen also told Selida about the pilot who had flown in the night before and how they welcomed him by inviting him in for dinner and to watch a little TV. After getting the story from the local deputy, Dees pays a visit to the Sarches' trailer. He sees Ray's office where bloody handprints still remain on the window. He sees the corner of the room where Ray's head was found, ripped from his shoulders. He sees on the wall the FAA warning for a black Skymaster 337 #N101BL registered to Dwight Renfield. He sees the bedroom where Ellen Sarch's body was found lying on the bed, two big holes on opposites sides of her neck, her body bloodless, and a peaceful smile on her face. When he leaves the trailer, Dees is chased by a large dark dog who disappears when Dees manages to outrun it to his car.
That evening, after checking in at the Falling Star Motel, Dees goes out for a drink or two or three. As he looks at the photos he has taken, the bartender sets down an unordered Bloody Mary, supposedly ordered for Dees by a guy at the end of the bar, but there is no one there now. Dees lifts the drink to see the words "STOP NOW" printed on the napkin underneath it. When Dees returns to his hotel, who should he see there but Katherine Blair. They trade insults, boast about their leads, and both admit that they're actually dry. Dees invites "Jimmy" to help him phone airports in search of the Night Flier's next touchdown. They make a list of all the airports in the area and divide it in half. Dees calls his half on his cellphone while Katherine calls her half on the phone in the motel room. No luck. Only one airport to go--Wilmington--which is unlikely, as it's a large airport. Dees makes the call anyway. When he asks the air controller if he's seen a black Cessna Skymaster 337, tail 101BL, the controller curtly says "No" and hangs up on him. Obviously, the real answer is "Yes."
Fourth stop is Wilmington Airport, but first Dees has to get rid of "Jimmy." He locks her in his closet, tells her, "Sorry, Jimmy. You lose," and then takes off alone. It is a dark and stormy night as Dees approaches Wilmington. He asks the controller again if he's seen a Skymaster 337, tail 101BL but gets no reply. Suddenly, his radio is filled with screams. Then comes a deep, gravelly voice calling his name. It is Dwight Renfield himself. He tells Dees to turn around, but Dees refuses. When he lands at Wilmington, Dees sees it--the black Skymaster. There is no one inside, so Dees peeks in. What he finds is mind-numbing. The cockpit is dripping with blood, and the cargo hold is filled with dirt, worms, maggots, and several copies of Inside View.
Suddenly the screaming starts again, and Dees runs to the terminal. What he finds inside is even more appalling. Blood everywhere, and bodies of men, women, and children on the floor and in the chairs. Even the FAA warning for the black Skymaster 337 #N101BL registered to Dwight Renfield is dripping with blood. One body catches his eye, and Dees goes over to photograph it. It is a man with a chain hanging out of his mouth. Dees pulls out the chain to find a crucifix dangling from it.
Dees has had it. He can no longer hide behind his camera and races to the men's room where he upchucks his dinner. Suddenly, someone else enters the men's room, but Dees cannot see anyone in the mirror, only the trickle of blood in the urinal where someone is relieving himself. It is Dwight Renfield [Michael H. Moss], and for the first time, Dees realizes that he has encountered a real vampire. Dwight makes Dees destroy his film, warns Dees for the final time not to follow him anymore, and leaves. After shivering for a few seconds, Dees follows anyway...shouting at Dwight to show his face. Show it he does, to reveal two huge, opposing fangs, one on the top and one on the bottom. Dwight then slits his own wrist and makes Dees drink the blood.
And now Dees enters his own personal hell. The floor of the terminal turns misty and from it start rising all the people whom Dees has exploited to write his stories in Inside View. As they advance toward him, Dees freaks. Grabbing the axe from the emergency firebox, he starts hacking at them. Suddenly the police arrive, followed by Katherine Blair. The police order Dees to freeze, but he rushes towards Katherine anyway, so they shoot him. They warn Katherine to stay back, so she stands by the terminal window where she sees Dwight Renfield getting into his black Skymaster and taking off.
Katherine knows that she can never print what she believes or believe what she prints, so the next cover of Inside View features Richard Dees lying in a pool of his own blood. The headline reads: NIGHT FLIER DEFANGED. Inside View Scribe Moonlighted as Dastardly Deadly Count. In the lower right-hand corner is a photo of Katherine "Jimmy" Blair, the tabloid's new ace reporter.
Sorry, Dees. You lose. [Original Synopsis by bj_kuehl.]