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The Horror at 37,000 Feet

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The Horror at 37,000 Feet
Screenplay by
  • Ronald Austin
  • James D. Buchanan
Story byV. X. Appleton
Directed byDavid Lowell Rich
ComposerMorton Stevens
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerAnthony Wilson
CinematographyEarl Rath
EditorBud S. Isaacs
Running time73 minutes
Production companyCBS Television Network
Original release
ReleaseFebruary 13, 1973 (1973-02-13)

The Horror at 37,000 Feet is a 1973 American supernatural horror television film directed by David Lowell Rich. The film stars Chuck Connors, Buddy Ebsen, Tammy Grimes, William Shatner, and Paul Winfield. It centers on hapless passengers and crew members plagued by demonic forces from within the baggage hold.



On a Boeing 747 flight from London to New York piloted by Captain Ernie Slade (Chuck Connors), a wealthy architect (Roy Thinnes) and his wife (Jane Merrow) have placed a druidic sacrificial altar in the baggage hold of the airliner. Aboard for the ill-fated trip is ex-priest Paul Kovalik (William Shatner) and millionaire Glenn Farlee (Buddy Ebsen). Soon after takeoff, crew and passengers alike face the supernatural horror that is unleashed from the baggage compartment — the ghosts of the druids, seeking revenge for being uprooted from their ancient home. After the demonic ghosts force the plane back towards London with gale-force winds, they begin freezing the plane's interior. The spirits then torment the passengers with horrific visions and feats of telekinesis. The passengers try to trick the ghosts by sacrificing a doll to them, but it only further angers the spirits. After a few of the passengers and crew are killed, Kovalik moves to the rear of the plane to try and determine what the spirits want. It turns out, they wish to be returned to their ancestral burial grounds, and they require a human sacrifice. An emergency door is then blown open and Kovalik is sucked out of the plane to his death, satisfying the ghosts. They then allow the 747 to land safely.





The Horror at 37,000 Feet was entirely shot on sound stages at the CBS Studio Center, Studio City, Los Angeles, California.



In a later review, critic Richard Scheib commented: "The Horror at 37,000 Feet is a silly film, although to its credit it and most of the principals do maintain a degree of intent gravity and at least treat the exercise seriously."[1]

Shatner described his character's demise 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 airliner's baggage compartment to try to confront a druid ghost." According to Shatner, many of his fans consider the movie the worst film in which he has ever appeared.[2]

The movie debuted on CBS on February 13, 1973, as the "CBS Tuesday Movie" and was the sixth-most watched primetime show of the week, with a 25.9 rating.[3]




  1. ^ Scheib, Richard. "Review: 'The Horror at 37,000 Feet'." Moria. Retrieved: March 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Shatner and Fisher 2009, pp. 167–168.
  3. ^ (20 June 2010) Nielsen Top 10, February 12th – February 18th, 1973, Television Obscurities


  • Roberts, Jerry. Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-81086-138-1.
  • Shatner, William and David Fisher. Up Till Now: The Autobiography. New York: MacMillan, 2009. ISBN 978-0-312-56163-5.
  • Young, R.G. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. Winona, Minnesota: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000. ISBN 978-1-55783-269-6.