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SURVIVAL
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Joe Francis

Starring:
Don Prentiss
Ian C. King
Vanelle

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A group of college kids go out backpacking in the middle of nowhere. On their way to meet up with some friends, they have a close encounter with a demented backwoods family from hell. Screaming, torture, and running for their lives ensues.
Is it good movie?

SURVIVAL was made in the true 'grindhouse' style of filmmaking, with an ultra low budget, and a shooting schedule of under 1 week. The result is a backpacking trip gone horribly wrong, with some truly graphic scenes of torture and mayhem thrown in for good measure.

Take one part TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, mixed with a bit of WRONG TURN and dash of FRIDAY THE 13TH, and you have yourself SURVIVAL. The film did a great job creating that 'grindhouse' feel from the 70s and 80s, and as it's essentially a tribute to that era and style of filmmaking, it hit all the right marks and deserves a spot on the shelf of 'backwoods horror' with the rest of them.

It's familiar storyline may have done it more harm than good, as it was fairly obvious from the get-go what was going to happen, who was going to die, who was going to live and all that fun stuff. Essentially, if you've seen TCM (either the original or the remake) you've seen SURVIVAL. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but that lack of surprise and originality just wasn't there.

The acting was decent, with exceptional performances by Don Prentiss as the psychopathic 'Rufus', and both Matt McClure and Ian C. King held their own as the heroic lead victim. I could actually see those dudes becoming 'big' in the future- they nailed their parts and I believed them! The female leads also rocked the house, but I'm sad to report that while there were plenty of opportunities, the film lacked any scenes of gratuitous nudity - which would have worked wonders for a throwback to 70s & 80s horror.

My biggest complaint would have to be the film's overall lack of musical score. I know it sounds weird to say, but I think if music was used it would have heightened that sense of terror and on-screen horror, and would have helped the picture out as a whole. Scenes that were just so-so on the terror scale would have been through the roof with a little music to accompany it. But hey, that's just me. I can see where they were coming from, and I believe that silence can also be scary, but it would've done wonders if done properly here.

This leaves my take on the filmmakers. Writer/director Joe Francis and co-writer/producer Kevin Woods took $1200 (raised from an auction on eBay, no less) and made a professional looking film that was better than some Hollywood flick's I've seen. They have a love for the genre and filmmaking in general, and it showed. With a bigger budget and a studio to back them up, these guys would be phenomenal. Props!

Video / Audio
Video: Presented in anamorphic widescreen, and put through a 'scratchy' filter, making the video look like crappy film. Works perfect for creating that 'grindhouse' feel, removing all feeling of 'video' it might have had. Good stuff.

Audio: Adequate and what you'd expect for a low budget flick of this nature. Again, it's lack of 'perfect' sound actually helped contribute to that 'grindhouse' feel, so the so-so sound worked for it's advantage.

The Extras
N/A
Last Call
In the end, I had a good time with SURVIVAL. It's low budget 'grindhouse' feel did wonders for it's actual low-budget production, making everything that may have been seen as 'amateur' look perfect for what they were trying to create. The storyline is a rehash of every 'teens tortured by a family of sick freaks in the middle of nowhere' movie ever made, but if that's your cup of tea, then there's really no complaints. I would've liked to see more musical score used througout, not to mention a shot of gratuitous nudity or two, but as it stands, SURVIVAL was a perfect ride for the 'grindhouse' lover in all of us.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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