Sole Survivor (1983)
Directed by Thom Eberhardt

Starring Anita Skinner Brinke Stevens Kurt Johnson Robin Davidson

Resurrected in 2008 by Code Red, which presented a remastered DVD release with interviews with one omember of the cast and the executive producer, "Code Red" is probably best remembered as a likely inspiration for the 2000 horror hit "Final Destination." In it, a woman is the sole survivor of a plane crash and begins to be visited by dead people. It's also the first film from Thom Eberhardt, who directed "Night of the Comet."

It's far from a classic and isn't near as good as "Final Destination," which took the basic concept and added "Omen" elements to it -- and a teen cast and fast pace. But it's pretty good if your'e a retro horror fan who has seen all the other stuff. It also features an early performance from Brinke Stevens.

The film's opening is pretty atmospheric, with a street view showing some creepy manicans, then a dream sequence that features the unseen plane crash. Given the film's infinitesimal budget, director Eberhardt did a good job of putting the crash in a dreamlike context and this scene is probably the strongest in th emovie. It actually reminded me slightly of David Lynch.

Things go down hill rapidly from there. The sole survivor (Anita Skinner) spends a week in a hospital, flirts with her doctor, sees a ghost on the way home (nearly survives being crushed by a runaway truck), then sees more ghosts -- and eventually starts dating her doctor.

She's also an ad executive -- and the actress she's hired to star in her latest ad has been having dreams about her. Her doctor warns her that sole survivors often die after their accidents in 24 months.

And the film gets bogged down in talk for about an hour, until things really start happening again. One of the ghosts drowns a neighbor. Then the neighbor comes back as a ghost as well. Or maybe they're not ghosts: The local mortician notices that the recently deceased are showing unusually large amounts of blood in their legs. Are they getting up and walking around?

The film bears some resemblance to the 1960s classic "Carnival of Souls," in which a woman who was supposed to die gets visited by the dead she was destined to join. But it doesn't get as surreal or scary. Brinke Stevens shows up to take off her top at a strip poker party, before the body count really starts to mount. Right as the film starts getting interesting it resolves itself in a pretty shocking way.

All in all, however, as '80s horror movies go this one isn't the worst either, but pretty forgettable. It's pretty obvious why it took so long to be resurrected. It just isn't any good. Yes, the pace picked up pretty nicely toward the end, but it wasn't enough to make it worth recommending.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


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