The Survivor (1981) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: David Hemmings
Starring: Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Joseph Cotten
Rated: UR/Region O/2:35/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Severin Films
When a 747 crash lands in a Sydney suburb – a still-spectacular sequence that helped make this the most expensive Australian film of its time – the inferno kills everyone on board except the pilot (Robert Powell of JESUS OF NAZARETH and TOMMY) who emerges from the wreckage miraculously unscathed. But as a local psychic (Jenny Agutter of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) begins to communicate with the spirits of the doomed passengers, it will unlock a nightmare of madness, murder, and supernatural horror. Hollywood legend Joseph Cotten – in his final film performance – co-stars in this shocker directed by British film icon David Hemmings (BLOW-UP, DEEP RED) and produced by Ozploitation maverick Antony I. Ginnane (THIRST, PATRICK, TURKEY SHOOT), featuring haunting cinematography by Academy Award(R) winner John Seale (THE ENGLISH PATIENT, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD) and now transferred in 2k HD for the first time ever.
Pre-dating both 1983’s Soul Survivor (a movie I originally thought this was release was) and the original Final Destination is 1981’s The Survivor. Another involving a plane crash, a survivor, and perhaps a story of fate. This film, however, tells the story of a plane going down and going into flames. The one man left once the smoke clears is an unharmed pilot. Now you could just call it luck, but it never does come off as a case of just that. The police take interests in his survival, as does other people. But when more people start getting killed off and it looks like ghosts from people who have died or something else is perhaps doing it, it makes for an interesting movie more times than not. I won’t try to lie and say that there weren’t moments of this film where I felt bored because things do move way to slow in spots. But just the fact that I still wanted to wait for this one out and see where it was all leading was enough for me to weather the storm (and slow spots) to see how the cards were all going to fall. And for the record, it all does lead to a very interesting ending.
This is a film that was made in Austrailia and it packs all that flavor and such you’ve come to expect from Ozploitation films. Now, some research for it will show you that the man who wrote the book on which this film was based on wasn’t too crazy about the end results of it, but you can’t always let that get your way of giving a movie a chance. Like I said before, I don’t dislike the movie in general, but it does stay pretty low on the thrills and chills. Outside the crash at the start and random deaths, everything else could have perhaps been done in a more exciting way. The cast is a crew of people I’m sure you’ll recognize from other films and to their credit, they at least seem to be trying pretty hard here and that always helps a lot. The film looks good in HD, but not spectacular. I imagine the source and the pure fact of what type of movie this is has a lot to do with that, but it still looks the best you’ve ever seen this one, I can assure you of that. The Survivor is a strange one that packs a good plot. It just needed to pick up the pace in spots. Outside of that, I’d say it is still worth at least a once-over.
– Not Quite Hollywood Extended Interviews with Producer Antony I. Ginnane and Cinematographer John Seale
– The Legacy of James Herbert
– Robert Powell on James HerbertArchive TV Special On Location Featuring Interviews with Stars Joseph Cotten and Peter Sumner
– Archive TV Interview with David Hemmings
– Archive TV Interview with David Hemmings and Robert Powell
– Antony I. Ginnane Trailer Reel
– TV Spot
Quality of Transfer: 86%