• Survivor, The

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: April 17, 2012.
    Director: David Hemmings
    Cast: Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Joseph Cotton
    Year: 1981
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    The Movie:

    The Survivor was produced by infamous Australian exploitation impresario Anthony I. Ginnane and was directed by noted British actor David Hemmings of Antonioini's Blow Out and Dario Argento’s Deep Red fame. Hemmings based the film on the book of the same name by famed horror novelist James Herbert and if it isn’t a masterpiece of terror and suspense, it makes for a pretty entertaining watch.

    Robert Powell (of Asylum and The Asphyx) plays Keller, a pilot aboard a 747 jetliner that finds itself the unwitting victim of a hidden bomb. The plane crashes and bursts into flames and you’d think that it would instantly kill everyone on board, but Keller walks out of the searing wreckage completely unharmed. The rescue team are as surprised as he is to find Keller alive and seemingly perfectly fine.No one seems to be able to explain how he made it out of there alive, let alone without any serious damage done to his body.

    An investigation is launched into the explosion and the team of researchers assigned to the case concludes that it is physically impossible for Keller to have survived given the magnitude of the explosion and the intense heat generated by the fuel on board the jetliner. From here on out the film follows a path eerily similar to M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, but telling you any more than that would be spoiling half the fun. Let’s just say that Hemmings got there first.

    While Hemmings doesn’t exactly wow anyone with his directorial skills in this film he is at least competent behind the camera and is able to move the story along at a proper pace so as to keep things interesting. Robert Powell is great in the lead, his unusual looks adding a sense of mystery to the film before his character even finds himself in the situation he does. He’s quite good in the lead, and supporting roles from Joseph Cotton (in what would prove to be his swan song performance) as a priest and Jenny Agutter of Logan’s Run don’t hurt things a bit either.

    The film has some interesting visuals, the scene in which Powell emerges from the crash being a stand out shot, and it’s a fairly polished looking production. Credit for that goes to cinematographer John Seale, who has gone on to work on some A-list Hollywood blockbusters not the least of which is the first Harry Potter film. A decent mix of suspense and mystery with a touch of the supernatural thrown in to mix it up a bit, The Survivor is a solid film that should probably get more recognition than it has found so far among the pantheons of cult movie infamy.


    Scorpion Releasing presents The Survivor in a nice looking 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that definitely trumps the previous release from Elite Entertainment that came out a few years ago. There are a few minor scratches here and there but generally the print used for this release is in very good shape showing good detail and very nice color reproduction.

    The English language sound mix, a Dolby Digital Mono track, also sounds fine. There are no level issues, it’s properly balanced and comes through clean, clear and consistent throughout. Brian May’s electronic sounding compositions for the film also come through with nice clarity.

    Extras include a commentary track with producer Anthony I. Ginnane moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters. If you’ve heard any of Ginnane’s other tracks you know he’s rarely at a loss for words and has a sharp memory and a lot of great stories to share and that’s the case here as well. He talks about the influence of Goblin on Brian May’s soundtrack work, talks about possible alternate casting choices that were considered for the film and discusses the film’s reception and how he feels it could have done better during its theatrical run had they made a few changes. He and Waters also engage in some interesting discussion about footage that was shot and not used and about the film’s interesting ending. It’s a good track, definitely worth listening to if you’re at all interested in Ginnane’s career or the late Hemmings’ work.

    Trailers for the feature and for other Scorpion Releasing titles are included on the disc as are standard menus and chapter selection options. As this disc falls under the Katarina’s Nightmare Theater line, you can watch the disc with an optional intro and outro from Katarina Leigh Waters. As per the norm, this is done in a humorous vein and amusing enough and as its optional, those who don’t enjoy Waters’ participation can easily choose to watch it without her participation.

    The Final Word:

    The Survivor is no masterpiece but it’s a well made film with an interesting story, some strong acting, and a few nice twists and turns that make it worth a watch for those with an interest in the material. Scorpion’s disc makes for a nice upgrade from the previous Elite Entertainment disc in pretty much every way possible and presents the film in great shape and with a very interesting commentary track. Definitely worth checking out.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Paul Casey's Avatar
      Paul Casey -
      More Jenny screencaps, you turd!The cover is very Rene Magritte. Dig it.
    1. paul h.'s Avatar
      paul h. -
      Blow Up was directed by Antonioni-onionionioi. DePalma did Blow Out. But I knew what you meant anyway. I have the Elite disc and this new one does look better.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Yeah, dumb typo on my part. This one looks way better than the Elite disc. If you like the movie, it's worth the upgrade for the transfer alone. Through in the new extras, it starts to make good sense.
    1. Scorpion's Avatar
      Scorpion -
      Might also be of interest to the readers who own the previous one that this is the 99min version, while the previous U.S DVD was about 87min I believe.