Chosen Survivors – USA, 1974

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Chosen Survivors – aka The Bats – is a 1974 American-Mexican science fiction horror feature film directed by Sutton Roley (Sweet, Sweet RachelSatan’s TriangleThe Curse of Dracula TV series) from a screenplay written by H.B. Cross [Harry Spalding: House of the Damned; Witchcraft; Curse of the Fly] and Joe Reb Moffly, based on Spalding’s storyline.

The movie stars Jackie Cooper, Alex Cord, Richard Jaeckel and Bradford Dillman.

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After being selected at random by a computer to seek safety in an underground bomb shelter on the eve of a nuclear attack, a group of refugees makes a horrible realisation: They are sharing the space with a colony of vampire bats. And since going back above ground isn’t an option, they’re forced to stay and fight for their lives…

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Reviews:

Intelligent plotting, sexual and psychological drama and an offbeat directorial approach make this quite a unique little movie. Director Sutton Roley was obviously trying to break out of TV with this one, though he was a master of top TV shows for decades. Skewed camera angles are effectively used to show the disorientation of the survivors as they arrive, wide-angle lenses to accent their claustrophobia.” Black Hole Reviews

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“The film suffers from cheesy special effects and a dreary droning score, but — being a performance-based melodrama — is most adversely affected by a capable cast uninspired by the script’s clichéd dialogue … Nevertheless, it conjures up some intermittent suspense and unease, thanks to Sutton Roley’s able direction and some exceptional bat wrangling.” Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

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“Even though the characterizations are somewhat trite, and the melodramatic histrionics tend to be excessive, there are still plenty of positives to be found in Chosen Survivors. From an aesthetics standpoint, the cinematography and lighting, along with the framing and blocking of the actors, are executed in most unusual ways. Characters and objects are commonly placed equidistantly from each other within sparse, static settings.” Matt Martell, DVD Drive-In

“The script by Harry Cross plays loose with logic and character, and we’re given little background outside of exposition by the group psychologist (an effective Bradford Dillman). Still, the archetypal personalities make for some interesting debate, which comprise sections of the film between deadly vampire bat attacks.” Technicolor Dreams

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” …if you look closely, you’ll see what a prize sirloin this is amongst the other science fiction steaks.” Cinefantastique

“Another misfit group united by disaster; more shocks than suspense, and not much characterisation, but for adventure/horror addicts it will pass the time.” Leslie Halliwell, Halliwell’s Film Guide

“The characters and plot are straight from stock and recall the heyday of the fifties ‘B’ picture. Nonetheless, the film works well within its own undemanding limits.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook

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Cast and characters:

Jackie Cooper – Raymond Couzins

Alex Cord – Steven Mayes (Point of Terror; The Dead Are AliveUninvited)

Richard Jaeckel – Major Ellis (Grizzly; Day of the Animals; The Dark)

Bradford Dillman – Peter Macomber (The Mephisto WaltzBug; Piranha)

Diana Muldaur – Alana Fitzgerald (The Other)

Pedro Armendáriz, Jr. – Luis Cabral (The VampiresDon’t Be Afraid of the Dark)

Lincoln Kilpatrick – Woody Russo (The Ωmega Man; Piranha, 1995

Gwenn Mitchell – Carrie Draper

Barbara Babcock – Dr. Lenore Chrisman (Salem’s Lot)

Release:

Chosen Survivors was released theatrically in the United States on May 22, 1974 by Columbia Pictures.

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The film was released on DVD in a double feature with The Earth Dies Screaming as part of MGM’s Midnite Movies series.

On October 4, 2016, the film was released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory.

Wikipedia | AFI | Image credits: Critical Condition | Technicolour Yawn

The Bat People – USA, 1974

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