Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Survival Earth (1985) (TV)

... aka: Survival 1990

Directed by:
Peter McCubbin

Hamilton/Ontario-based Emmeritus Productions was founded by former TV host Lionel Shenken in the early 80s and spit out film after film during a five-year reign of terror lasting from about 1984 until 1989. In that time, the studio put out an impressive 30+ films. Well, impressive until you actually sit through one of these things. Based on what I've watched thus far (the pallid horror anthology GREEDY TERROR, the serial killer psycho-drama BODY COUNT and this one), I'd say most people are going to be rightfully appalled suffering through these cheap, talky, poorly acted and anemically produced efforts, each of which have public access TV production values (i.e. were shot with camcorders). Amazingly, Shenken managed to get his home grown Z movies out to an international audience via pre-package sales to both video and television. Some of these titles even popped up on American cable TV, and quite a few were released here on video. SURVIVAL EARTH (also released as Survival 1990, despite the fact the film is actually set in 1996) is one of those films.

The Earth is in trouble, judging by the opening stock footage flurry of rioters, pesky politicians, nuclear power plants, grumbling skies and finally, an atomic blast which we assume kills off much of Canada's population. But, rejoice. There are survivors. John (Jeff Holec), a bearded former high school history teacher decked out in a blood-spattered shirt and cut-off blue jean dukes a little too short for comfort, and Miranda (Nancy Cser), his blonde, loincloth-clad, amnesiac "mutant" girlfriend. In this film, a "mutant" is simply someone whose memory was wiped clean after "the fall;" not something that would require the filmmakers to provide any sort of special make-up application. During the course of their five-year courtship, John has taught Miranda how to talk and read, has caught her up on the times and has somehow transformed his hot blonde clean slate into a sassy, defiant feminist in the process. The two live in a house, which is actually just the crumbling remains of a house... that has no roof. Yes, no roof. What they do in the Canadian winter in anybody's guess. Every once in awhile, the duo have to whip out their firearms to protect their territory from crazed, marauding "vandals" who roam in the woods.

The comfy living situation is threatened by the arrival of Simon (Craig Williams), a disciplined, clean-cut former army cadet who shows up at their home with rifle in hand. Simon doesn't make a good first impression by cooking and serving them their pet dog Corridge for dinner, but he does turn out to be an OK guy after all and everyone becomes fast friends. The men sit around discussing their former lives before the apocalypse. Miranda bitches because Jeff's always reading passages from his W.G. Yates poetry book and pining for a past she can't even remember (he even wears the key to his "brand new 1986 Honda Civic" around his neck). Meanwhile, someone is lurking in the woods, watches Miranda bathe in a stream and seems to be ready to strike at any moment. Did I mention that John's father was a research scientist working on the duplication of cellular structure (i.e. cloning)? Yeah, whoever wrote the script (the director, star Williams and Gina Mandelli) decided to throw that out there about an hour into the film.

Even though we were shown an atomic blast at the beginning of the film, we learn that the apocalypse was actually caused by a financial meltdown, which led to a disbanding of the army, government and military, which led to chaos, anarchy and eventually armageddon. The film makes mention of things that sound cool in theory (such as cannibalistic mutants taking over the cities), but we never actually get to see any of these things. In fact, this movie is little more than three mediocre actors sitting around in a "house" or walking around in the woods talking, talking and talking some more for about 80 minutes. All of the talk is punctuated by a badly choreographed fist fight, a few grenade explosions, some very brief nudity during Miranda's skinny dip and an axing, plus two clumsy action scenes with our heroes shooting at the vandals.

I happen to love post apocalytpic films, even slower, more contemplative ones... but this near-plotless camcorder cheapie won't be cutting anyone's mustard. I don't believe any of the Emmeritus films have been issued on DVD and I doubt they ever will be. The three I've seen are all more than welcome to disappear off the face of the Earth.

The VHS copy I slogged through was from the British label Visual Entertainment.



B. Bennett said...

Have been trying to find a list of Emmeritus films released. IMDB shows about 15. Been really interested in seeing some of these vhs schlock pieces. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated!

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Hope you make it back here to see this, but here's an excellent article on these films:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...