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The Survivor (1981) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersThe Survivor has finally made its landing on blu-ray.  Never heard of it, eh?  Honestly, I’m not surprised as it is an interesting experiement in horror that doesn't always do what it needs to do in order to be successful.  British author James Herbert’s novel might have been done a disservice by this adaptation.  He’s gone on the record claiming that the film is absolute bullocks in its handling of his work.  While harsh, he’s entitled to his opinion.  That doesn’t mean the Australian flick is easily dismissed, it just means – at least to me – that there is room for improvement, which there is.

And yet our Pint Meter suggests that, as far as B-movies go, this one isn't totally off its rocker.  It has its moments, mind you, but its slow burn approach to what we already know is a bit of a disappointment.  It’s not gory (probably a mistake) – but some of its burnt-face images will startle viewers – and delivers more psychological stuff.  You can’t look away when there are haunted moments, but – when there’s other important stuff going on – it is very easy to become distracted.  In that way, The Survivor is a bit frustrating to sit through. 

Directed by David Hemmings from an adaptation by David Ambrose (Blackout), this horror film – which is ultimately an exploration into whether or not the crash of a 747 jet was a pilot’s error or a supernatural freak show – is indeed a bit loopy; it is also incredibly adept at startling us with longer sequences of its many spooktacular stalkings.

Murder most foul is the main course and when it is an entire airplane that is the target, you better believe there’s going to be an investigation.  Weirdly enough, only the airplane’s pilot has survived the crash and it is he alone who does the sleuthing into what happened. 

What he uncovers sends him right over the edge. 

With a Break On Through swagger, we already know how this episode of the “Twilight Zone” will play out.  It is; however, the nonsensical haunting bits that keep us engaged.  From creepy kids (always a hit) to conspiracy theories galore, this flick is loaded with the right stuff: pulp and paranoia.    

Starring Robert Powell (Harlequin), Jenny Agutter (Child’s Play 2), and Joseph Cotten (Baron Blood), it turns out that the lone survivor isn’t as alone as he thought.  And when he returns to the sky to fly over the crash, he seems ghostly images he can’t quite explain away.  He is puzzled by it all.  Hell, we all are.

The Survivor arrives at its final destination with help from Severin Films.  They have cleaned up the wreckage of its ill-fated flight and reassembled it for our viewing pleasure.  It’s a hard flight to catch, so be on the lookout for this title on a store shelf near you.


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The Survivor (1981) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
87 mins
: David Hemmings
David Ambrose
Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Joseph Cotten
: Horror
Pilot error, or supernatural terror.
Memorable Movie Quote: "After all, I've just killed 300 people in a field and walked away without a scratch. Guess that makes me pretty special doesn't it?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Indie Rights
Official Site:
Release Date:
No U.S. theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 7, 2017
Synopsis: 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.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Survivor (1981) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Severin Films
Available on Blu-ray
- February 7, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English
English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

Presented by Severin Films, the AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1 is accurate when it comes to clothing and skin tones.  There’s a lot of damage to the print, though, and it is noticeable.  There are some weak lines in some of the effects, but overall the night scenes are solid and unwavering. The day scenes – with their blue vistas – are better served.  And the field sequence – where a spectral kid chases a man across a field and onto some brown and red train tracks – is crisper yet.  No sparks shine, though, and we just have to accept that about this one.  A solid LPCM 2.0 mono track provides the sound adequately.



  • While highly recommended, it is sad that there are no commentaries for the film.

Special Features:

Severin Films provides a few supplemental extras for us to chew upon.  We get an excerpt from a film about b-movies that focuses on the director and the film itself.  We get a look at the author’s legacy and some archival interviews as well.  Nothing spectacular, mind you, but everything necessary.

  • Extended Scenes
  • Not Quite Hollywood Extended Interviews with Producer Antony I. Ginnane and Cinematographer John Seale
  • The Legacy of James Herbert
  • Robert Powell on James Herbert – Archive 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


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[tab title="Art"]The Survivor (1981) - Blu-ray Review