The Survivor (1981)
Director: David Hemmings
Starring: Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Joseph Cotten, Peter Sumner & Lorna Lesley
Released by: Severin Films
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Based on James Herbert’s novel, The Survivor takes flight when a bustling 747 suffers a fiery demise, leaving only its pilot (Robert Powell, Tommy) alive and thoughtless on the doomed event’s occurrence. Investigated by many demanding answers and befriended by a psychic (Jenny Agutter, An American Werewolf in London) with connections to the fallen passengers, David Hemmings’ (Running Scared) mystery-thriller crashes and nearly burns in its cerebrally dull approach. Although impressing with its genuinely chilling crash sequence that spearheads the film’s narrative, The Survivor wanes with subdued performances and unclear developments meant to enhance thrills that instead leave viewers scratching their heads in confusion. While a nosy photojournalist meets his maker via a rolling train and sporadic appearances from child apparitions attempt to give rise to the film’s supernatural touches, The Survivor ultimately settles for an admittedly unexpected albeit, uneventful revelation that is more flesh and blood plotted than hauntingly engineered. Dismissing the adaptation of his work as sheer rubbish, Author James Herbert’s critique of the competently made, if not uninteresting, film may be overly harsh while, Ozploitation producing maverick Anthony I. Ginnane’s (Thirst, Patrick) regrets over the film’s lack of gore and misguided emphasis on flat mood are far more accurate for this Aussie dud.
Newly transferred in 2K, Severin Films proudly presents The Survivor with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Released several times before with varying results, the film’s high-definition debut is a step above past offerings with a healthy layer of natural grain intact, steady skin tones and a radiant color scheme observed in sunny exterior sequences. While mild instances of speckling and early frame wobble early in the film are observed, cool shades of blue and deep black levels give rise to the film’s nighttime and plane-based scenes for an otherwise solid viewing experience. Joined by an LPCM 2.0 mix that is hardly sonically-defining yet, more than capable of relaying dialogue and explosions clearly, the cargo-filled hatch of bonus contents include, Extended Scenes (3:34), Not Quite Hollywood Extended Interviews with Producer Anthony I. Ginnane and Cinematographer John Seale (22:12) and The Legacy of James Herbert (9:19) with Chris Cooke of Mayhem Film Festival and David Flint of The Reprobate Magazine waxing intellectual about the author and his many works. Additionally, Robert Powell on James Herbert (3:24), an Archive TV Special on Location Featuring Interviews with Stars Joseph Cotten and Peter Sumner (29:59), an Archive TV Interview with David Hemmings (15:43) and an Archive TV Interview with David Hemmings and Robert Powell (5:56) are also on hand while, an Anthony I. Ginnane Trailer Reel (32:03) and TV Spot (0:28) conclude the supplemental offerings. An instance of tone and mood creating drowsiness rather than shocks, The Survivor offers good intentions for the right viewer while leaving most seated in coach yearning for more. Presented with excellent care, Severin Films ensures viewers a first-class presentation of the thriller with a slick 2K remastering and a high-flying offering of special features Ozploitation fans will revel in.