Before YouTube became a workplace rabbit hole for strange and bizarre content, folks who wanted short-form entertainment that was off the beaten path had to work for it. From passing spliced films and video cassettes around from friend to friend to attending screenings in scary neighborhoods, it took work to be weird.
But from 1981 to 1988, the wonderful and wacky Night Flight was able to fill the void left by the silly sitcoms, heavy dramas and various variety hours that filled the airwaves.
Airing in three to four hour blocks on the USA Network, Night Flight was a mish-mash of everything you needed to live outside the norm. Providing access to hard-to-find music videos, spotlighting bands that were shunned by local radio stations, doling out small splices of cult movies galore, and offering handfuls on odd cartoons and short movies, Night Flight filled the gap left by normal television.
Calling itself an “online visual-arts magazine,” Night Flight was the brainchild of Jeff Franklin and Stuart S. Shapiro and filled the late-night airwaves of the little-known cable network. It quickly became must-see TV for the fringe as it introduced directors, cartoonists and bands to its night-owl audience.
Goths, metalheads, music fans and film fanatics galore would gather late at night to watch this jumble of pop culture. It was were vast amounts of people first learned about GG Allin or the Talking Heads. It was how kids in Middle America knew about CBGB’s, Wendy O. Williams and Divine while teens in big cities found out about youth culture trends both across the Pond and the country.
It united the weird in the best way possible.
After seven years of serving abursidity, Night Flight was canceled, although it would live in syndication for a few more years after it was axed.
But then after 1996, cable television bid adieu to the trend-setting telly show as it faded into obscurity.
Gone but not forgotten, the show left its mark on audiences and even other cable programs. In the mid-’90s, popularity of the Night Flight later influenced MTV and a few of their other ventures, such as Liquid Television.
But alas, all good things must come to an end.
Much of the programming was gathered and lived on in fragmented bits and pieces on YouTube. The intro, a few odd specials and such. But it was enough to keep the show from being completely forgotten.
And now, after a two-decade absence, Night Flight is back!
Night Flight returns to the small screen (and the small, small screen) with a deep dive into ‘80s nostalgia. The Night Flight Plus app (available on Roku, desktop and mobile phone) give former fans and possibly new audiences the chance to explore full episodes of the beloved late-night show…complete with commercials.
The app also offers oodles of cult movie favorites, spotlights on alternative artists, documentaries galore, full-length features of the macabre and so much more.
In addition to their original programming, the app also features dozens of films from the Arrow Films and the Full Moon catalog, shorts from the Church of the SubGenius (remember your lord and savior, Bob?), old episodes of forgotten ‘80s programming like the Dr. Ruth Show and Gumby, and all the horror movies you can muster.
Go. Try it out yourself. But be wary: In this app lies a click hole to the likes no one has ever seen. I myself fell down it about two weeks ago and have yet to emerge.
In a day and age where ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia is at its peak, go straight to the source with the Night Flight Plus app and get lost in a void of your own making.