Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Survival Run



SURVIVAL RUN (aka SPREE) (1979)

Directed by: Larry Spiegel
Screenplay: Larry Spiegel, Frederic Shore, G.M Cahill
Starring: Peter Graves, Ray Milland, Vincent Van Patten

Little seen, action exploitation flick that sees a bunch of teens break down in the middle of the Californian desert on a road trip and terrorized by Peter Graves and his dope peddling, gun running goons. Happy-go-lucky, free spirited teen Vincent Van Patten (The Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission) and his five buddies go off in his souped-up van for a few days of fun. No sooner have they started out, than they crash the van and find themselves lost and wandering the desert. Unfortunately, things turn worse when they stumble upon Graves (Mission: Impossible) and Ray Milland (The Uncanny, Escape to Witch Mountain) who, with a truck load of cash, drugs and guns, are hiding out after a recent deal. At first welcoming to the naive teenagers, Graves and his goons soon turn nasty as they take a liking to the group's girls and the rag tag bunch of teens soon find themselves fighting for survival in the blazing heat against motorcycle riding, machine gun wielding bad guys.

Trashy and exploitation heavy Survival Run certainly is with violence and rape rearing their ugly heads the somewhat oblivious teens realizing too late what they have gotten themselves into. However, the flick is never too nasty more suggestive in its salaciousness, apart from one weird and quite disturbing dream/rape/murder sequence. The film is also surprisingly strongly character based, tension built and dialogue used well to create the sense of unease. The young cast, despite over-egging their performances, are much more convincing than you would expect and act like real teenagers as apposed to stereotypes. They even talk things out, trying to find some reason in all the madness.

The flick isn't too action heavy and could have benefited from a couple more chases and shootouts in the nicely photographed desert landscape. Proceedings take a little too long to kick into gear but when they do we get a nice dose of gunplay, a groovy motorcycle chase and a very dangerous looking stunt featuring a dude hanging from a helicopter. Overall, this is outdated exploitation (complete with awful music and theme songs!) but is surprisingly entertaining thanks to some nice character building and an explosion of action come the final third.

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