|Copyright 1974 Metromedia Producers Corporation.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 23 March 2008
- Major Gordon Ellis - Can...you...guess...why...William...Shatner...sued...this...man?
- Woody Russo - Won a gold medal in the Olympics once. He was picked because every isolated population needs a stud. All things considered, what is wrong with being selected as the dedicated stud?
- Carrie Draper - The ecologist. Once the radioactivity has dissipated, her job is to go outside and look for acid-spitting giant slugs, poisonous wolves, and ambulatory cacti. Ecologists have it rough after the Apocalypse.
- Steven Mayes - A writer. He gets frustrated that the group never listens to his suggestions. Of course nobody ever listens to him; he writes depressing fiction novels!
- Alana Fitzgerald - Congresswoman. She does engage in a lot of congress (with Steven), but I think that she is supposed to be an elected official.
- Luis Cabral - An oceanographer, which explains why he failed to recognize the danger inherent in a swarm of vampire bats.
- Kristin Lerner - The nutritionist. As the youngest member of the group, she spends a lot of time freaking out and being slapped by the older folk. That's just how it was for twenty-somethings in the 70's. Sucked dry.
- Dr. Lenore Chrisman - The medical expert. When she says, "No!" it means no, unless you keep going and she changes it to, "Alright, damn it! Yes!"
- Claire Farraday - The biologist. She knows that living next door to a colony of aggressive vampire bats is "not good." Being killed by the bats just proves her initial analysis was correct.
- Dr. Peter Macomber - Psychiatrist. He wears a green terry cloth robe, resembles Brad Majors, and is a government mole. Nobody liked him, not even the bats.
- Ray Couzins - A wealthy businessman. I despise this man, because he is a selfish leech. Why is he in the bunker? Who thought that the brave new world needed an over-the-hill capitalist?
- The Vampire Bats - Just a bunch of winged squirrels looking for a nut (so long as the nut is a human and type A+).
|All-out nuclear war annihilates life on Earth. Eleven people are stuffed into a futuristic fallout bunker so that mankind has a chance to carry on. Unfortunately, a colony of vampire bats infests the bunker and preys upon the frantic remnants of humanity.
"Yay, we're going to survive! Gah! BATS!"
That is the movie, in short. You've read about it, so now you can go out and rent the movie, secure in the knowledge that "Chosen Survivors" is the film that you have been searching for, because you always wanted to know the name of the flick that had people trapped in a bunker with vampire bats. Rest easy, this is your film. Enjoy.
Now move along. I've told you all about it. Shoo! Shoo!
Very well, I will write a full review, but there is very little I can add to the synopsis. When the movie starts, ten drugged civilians are pulled from a helicopter and guided down a line of soldiers. The clumsy people are stuffed into an elevator and the hatch closes. The elevator plummets downward and a huge explosion jolts the lift (lots of slow motion and people moaning ensues). When the doors open, the loopy people stumble out into a gleaming control room. There, the confused herd meets Major Ellis and views a taped recording that explains why they were drugged and placed in the bunker. Reason finally failed and nuclear war is destroying civilization. In a bid to preserve something, the United States government built a small number of shelters capable of sustaining human life through a full-scale nuclear war. These eleven people are the "chosen survivors."
The underground facility is impressive, with its contemporary furniture and gleaming metal walls. However, I noticed that the walls are actually a metallic fabric, like silver lamé. You can see it bunched up where the set designers had a problem putting together a corner or installing a panel. Forget the fact that the survivors are obviously living in a fire marshal's nightmare; pay attention to the important stuff. Every person has a private room with a bed cubby. Beside each bed is a lighted fish tank built into the wall. A proper chair is nowhere to be found, there are enough lights that changing them is going to require an assigned "light bitch" (along with a storage room stocked with extras), and the entire system is controlled by a one-of-a-kind computer system.
Sorry, but all of this is too cutting edge. My fallout shelter would not rely on brand new technology for essential systems. Give me something that I can fix with a hammer and duct tape. I always have duct tape. Most of my emergency plans involve duct tape. If yours don't, you are wrong. Duct tape saved my marriage. Get yourself some.
A good thing about Major Ellis' presence is that he understands how to operate the computer system and satellite uplink. Taking a seat at the control panel, the officer zooms in on North America. Want to know what the end of the world looks like? Visit Hawaii. I am totally serious. The monitor shows a volcano erupting. By the way, when not being used, the three big screens go into screensaver mode and display what looks like the inside of an unoccupied sauna.
During the night, something happens to the power and dim emergency lights activate. The next morning, Kristen is horrified by the carnage inside the birdcage (a large cage in the mess hall was filled with songbirds). It doesn't take long for the worried people to discover an unwelcome guest: a Desmodus rotundus. Ms. Farraday correctly predicts that, where there is one vampire bat, there are probably more. The bunker was built inside of an existing cave. The cave must be infested with vampire bats, and the only blood supply available to the flying terrors is the herd of succulent humans huddled in their fallout shelter. Couzins goes ballistic and seems stuck on the idea of finding the person responsible for the oversight.
What are you going to do, Couzins, sue them? What does it matter? Whoever they were, they are dead. Maybe they burst into flame, maybe they were turned into a human-shaped outline on a concrete wall. You cannot sue them.
Sorry for the distraction; it is just that I cannot stand Couzins. He drives me nuts. If I was there, he would have been done. "All in favor of feeding Ray to the bats, say 'Aye!' Are we agreed? Good, let's feed some bats." The thing you have to realize is that I should not be in that bunker. Mr. Couzins should not be in that bunker. Heck, most of the people in that bunker, shouldn't be there. They are all too old. The median age of the group must be almost forty! With age does come experience and (usually) some stability, but a crucial factor was overlooked: making babies. Any kind of underground ark to ensure the survival of mankind is going to be younger. Pick a group of well-adjusted and intelligent people between the ages of twenty and twenty-four. If including one or two older individuals is desirable, then use men. Keep the women in the prime age group for making babies. Eggs go stale, sperm is a renewable resource - just ask Jenna Jameson (or fertility scientists, male teenagers, etc.).
Problems with the lighting system continue, and every time that they do the bats enter the bunker. Sporadic power failures are not enough of a menace, so Couzins gets drunk and screws with the electrical panel; he hits the "blow everything up" button. When the lights blink off, somebody starts dumping buckets of bats into the room. The worthless drunk escapes, but Luis is surprised by the winged piranhas (don't laugh, there is a movie about those) and ripped apart. The oceanographer's death freaks out Dr. Macomber, forcing him to come clean. What is going on is an experiment to see if the shelters are a viable option to preserve the human race. There has been no nuclear war. The psychiatrist was assigned to monitor the group and take notes. Now he uses the computer to send a signal that the group needs assistance.
In other words, the government built the bunkers, then some genius pointed out that they should check to see if a small group could coexist in isolation without killing each other. I said this a few paragraphs ago, but I'm going to say it again. What does it matter? If the entire surface of the Earth is turned into a radioactive inferno, cramming a dozen people into a fallout shelter and hoping that they do not turn into Morlocks sounds like the only option.
Oh hey, guess what? The rescue signal does not work. Kristen swallows a lot of pills and lapses into a coma. Everyone else decides to take the battle to the bats. They all give up a pint of blood and rig a cage around the entrance to the electrical control room. Using rags, the community blood pool is applied to the wire mesh. Then the lights are turned off and the nervous humans wait. It takes a long time (if you pay attention to the clock, stuff goes on at all hours), but the bats finally pour into the trap. The switch is flipped and the wire mesh electrified. Hundreds of bats and a gallon of blood are cooked while the ecstatic people look on. Talk about a sickening smell. I hope that the bunker is stocked with air fresheners.
If they had all that wire mesh, why didn't they rig bat-proof cages around their beds?
Eliminating less than a thousand bats barely put a dent in the colony. While everybody was cheering at the bat roast (quick, to the Bat Roast), a horde of bats descended on Kristen and licked her clean of hemoglobin. In a last-ditch effort to get help, Woody Russo agrees to climb the seventeen hundred-foot elevator shaft. There is no ladder (they embedded lights into the walls, with no visible conduit, but no ladder), so he has to do the whole climb with a makeshift grappling hook and some rope. Halfway up, I bet that the former Olympian was wishing that he hadn't donated blood earlier.
Some of the dialog is grand, b-movie grade lines that are a riot to hear, and the cast delivers them in a serious manner. However, the special effect used for the swarming bats is pretty disappointing, because it looks like people are being attacked by a Bakshi cartoon (rotoscoping - egad). The film does use real vampire bats, which is a nice surprise. I am tired of seeing people screaming as a fruit bat "attacks" them. The only reason to be afraid of a flying fox is if you are wearing an apricot necklace and mango-flavored underwear.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Plexiglas and sedatives are a dangerous combination.
- Fallout bunkers should be equipped with non-slip floors.
- Nuclear war is a major contributing factor to global warming.
- Stretch Armstrong is made of puréed vampire bat tongues.
- Pillow fighting is lethal if you are a Desmodus rotundus.
- Shag carpet is one way to encourage reproduction.
- There is one thing worse than an amateur electrician: a drunken amateur electrician.
- During the 1970s, the inventor of the Spirograph sold electric meters to the government.
- Vampire bats are scary, vicious, and relentless, just not very punctual.
- If you ever need to climb out of a deep mine, do not wear a diver's weight belt, but do take along a can of triple-expanding foam.
- 4 mins - The hatch looks futuristic, but somebody is going to bash their skull open. People are not used to triangular openings.
- 9 mins - Look at those seats! This bunker was not built by humans; it was created by a race of highly intelligent aluminum cans.
- 25 mins - "Which one of you Monty Python zealots did this horrible thing?"
- 51 mins - Sleeping, most likely.
- 67 mins - It seems to me that stainless steel cups and plates (or trays) would have been a more logical choice.
- 79 mins - What is that cone for, other than forcing people to be careful of where they sit?
- 90 mins - It appears that the rope failed at the knot, under less load than expected. Granted, it was not a UIAA-rated rope, but they probably used an overhand knot or something else similarly stupid.
- 92 mins - If only "Xanadu" had ended like this...
- Bats: "Screech! Screech!"
Mr. Couzins: "Help! Heeeelp! Help! Help! Heeeelp! Help!"
Bats: "Screech! Screech!"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Recorded Message: "Good morning chosen survivors. Good morning to the first day of the new world. I would like to begin by suggesting that you include on your agenda for today's activities a complete tour of your facility. The environmental system in which you are living is the most sophisticated and secure that modern technology could design. Learn what it has to offer in helping you to adjust. You will find that all the life support systems are fully automated and they have built-in backup systems, in the event anything malfunctions."
||Ms. Draper (I think): "What if there are others?" |
Ms. Farraday: "Well, let's be realistic. There's no blood source on the surface, so they're either going to cannibalize each other or..."
Ms. Draper: "...or find their way back in here."
Mr. Couzins: "What does your instruction manual say about that, Major? How do you handle bloodsucking bats?"
Mr. Mayes: "And how do you handle rabies?"
||Maj Ellis: "Anybody who would subject human beings to this kind of torture has got to be sick, and I don't think anybody down here is sick. Maybe inside, yes, but not up here. Now, you'd better let this sink in Mr. Couzins. Up above, you might have been a great big man. You had a lot of money. You had a lot of power. Except, there is no more up above. It's gone! Everyone up there is gone! They're wiped out! And maybe I even lost more than you! You get off my back, and you stay off my back, because there's just you and me and nine other people - trying to stay alive down here. We're trying to make the best of a situation that could end up having us climbing the walls!"
||Mr. Couzins: "I'll tell you why they sent you down here: because you're supposed to be a stud, that's why. You're nothing but a goddamned stud!" |
Mr. Mayes: "Mr. Couzins, why don't you go to bed?"
Mr. Couzins: "Me? You! You're crazier than anybody. You know that? I think you actually enjoy it down here. You were nuts up there, and you're nuts down here!"
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Kristen woke up and found her room full of vampire bats. Her screams brought Major Ellis; he reacted by grabbing a pillow and smacking some bats. He really is whacking live bats! |
Don't worry about Kristen. She is behind a plexiglas divider. The actress playing the frightened girl must have been worried about getting a bat in her hair.
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