directed by Thom Eberhardt
USA 1983

TV commercial producer Denise (Anita Skinner) emerges unscathed as the sole survivor of an airliner crash and feels as if she's about to be caught by something. Her doctor/boyfriend (the late Ken Johnson) is convinced that she's experiencing "survivor's syndrome" in which sole survivors experience guilt and either commit suicide or put themselves in dangerous situations. Denise also receives some ambiguous warnings from psychic ex-actress Carla (co-producer Caren Larkey) who predicted the crash. A series of strange sightings and encounters of zombie-like people escalates until it is apparent that something is trying to kill her as people around her start dying as well. Her skeptical boyfriend thinks Denise is going crazy until he finds out that a number of recently dead people - including one that Denise claims attacked her - were found with all of the blood in their bodies drained into their legs as if they had died standing upright.

Shot in Santa Ana for only $350,000, this is a remarkably accomplished low-key horror film eschewing (as the commentary moderators point out countless times) the slasher aesthetic of its contemporaries in favor of subtle chills. As pointed out in the commentary, the film not only draws from CARNIVAL OF SOULS but also seems an obvious influence on the more garish and gory FINAL DESTINATION series (I seem to recall an eighties or nineties TV movie that more directly rips off SOLE SURVIVOR). Lead performances are excellent and the atmosphere is unnerving. This is an accomplished eighties horror sleeper worthy of reassessment by people who caught it theatrically or on video and definitely a must for newcomers who prefer atmosphere over prosthetic and visual effects (although the theatrical trailer gives multiple glimpses of a red-eyed skeletal death figure with a slimy clawed hand - the film itself only offers a brief glimpse of a skull with red eyes in the reflection of a radar screen - as seen in the cap from the trailer).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: December 1983 (USA)

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DVD Review: Code Red DVD - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Code Red DVD

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:24:45
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by co-producer/actress Caren Larkey, executive producer Sal Romeo, film historian Jeff McKay and cult director Jeff Burr
• Interview with Caren Larkey and Sal Romeo (8:33)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:51)
• THE UNSEEN trailer (2:07)
• THE FARMER trailer (2:07)
• THE DEAD PIT trailer (1:51)
• SILENT SCREAM trailer (1:14)
• HUMAN EXPERIMENTS trailer (2:30)

DVD Release Date: April 1st, 2008
Amaray

Chapters 16

  

Comments:

This is an excellent anamorphic and progressive single-layer transfer that probably looks as good or better than the theatrical prints of this little-seen film. Co-producer/co-star Caren Larkey provides a short introduction as well as a shared interview and commentary with her acting coach and the film's executive producer Sal Romeo (moderated by Jeff McKay and Jeff Burr) which talks about the film's development, the production value they got out of filming in Santa Ana at a time when few films had been made there, the $350,000 budget, and editor/director Thom Eberhardt's accomplishments despite their initial uneasiness regarding the amount of control he exerted over the shooting.

Trailers for a handful of upcoming releases of obscure though interesting looking horror films are also included. 

Eric Cotenas



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution

Code Red DVD

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 





 

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