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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Eeek! Eeek!

Author: GroovyDoom from Haddonfield, IL
8 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Extremely effective idea gets an admirable treatment, 70s style, in this seemingly lost film that concerns a group of strangers "selected" by computer to enter a hi-tech bomb shelter. There's no explanation given as to when this is supposed to be taking place, but that doesn't matter, we can clearly tell that this is the 1970s, due to the groovy "space-age" decor and the fact that several of the cast members have a sleazy 70s porno look to them, particularly Alex Cord (which sounds like a porno name anyway!).

We never see the characters in their real lives, we meet them as they are flown via helicopter to a remote desert location. They are shuttled into an elevator which carries them nearly two miles into the ground to a futuristic underground shelter. Well, at least it's what was considered futuristic in 1974. Some of the stuff in there is so kitschy it's funny, like the big rolling readout clock that changes numbers like the speedometer on a car.

An annoying female guide makes pre-programmed announcements on their giant video screen, her voice electronically altered for maximum futurism and irritation. She explains that the entire planet has been wiped out by nuclear weapons and that they are part of an effort to keep mankind alive. They, along with other shelters of people in other locations, will survive the holocaust and restart society once the nuclear threat is over. What they don't predict is that thousands of vampire bats from a nearby cave will find their way into the shelter and kill the survivors in a series of vicious attacks.

The film has a reputation for being gory, which it really is not; the special effects are surprisingly good, although dated, with the bats mostly being realized by blue-screen composites. Still, there are several shots of the bats swarming out of small openings that really get under your skin.

The other dated aspects of the film (like the aforementioned decor, hairstyles, and clothing) threaten to drag it into the realm of the absurd, too. However, the movie remains extremely grim and effective in spite of all that. Bradford Dillman is great as a duplicitous scientist involved with the survival project, harboring a secret that turns the other shelter members against him. Once the threat of the bats is realized, the humans realize they must stick together in order to deal with the problem, and the expected dissent and infighting threatens to turn them all into bat food.

The one thing that keeps the movie from being better is the overall silliness of the situation, particularly the death scenes. We can't help but wonder how anybody could be killed by vampire bats, especially when we view the corpses of the victims, which look like a series of bad shaving accidents. What exactly is causing these people to die? A dozen or so bites on the skin? How deep could those wounds be? Although bats evoke a sense of revulsion, and they're damn ugly, they're not life-threatening. If the violence were more shocking, it could have made the dread a little more palpable.

However, since "Chosen Survivors" isn't only about bat attacks, there's more to hold our interest. The claustrophobic environment of the shelter is extremely disturbing in some places, and one of the best sequences involves an escape attempt where one of the characters climbs precariously up the mile-plus-long elevator shaft. It's a nightmarish set piece, the idea of which alone is enough to give me the shudders.

As a matter of fact, I am wondering if the print I saw wasn't edited in some way. It seems like some of the character development was missing; for instance, some of the characters paired up into couples, and I never saw one scene that established any of them hooking up. This didn't bother me though, it made the movie even more bizarre and dreamlike, somewhat European.

If you can find a copy of "Chosen Survivors" I would say it's definitely worth the effort. The film seems to have slipped away into oblivion, but unofficial copies are floating around out there, apparently struck from 16mm prints of the film that still exist. Watching it may bring back the delicious dread of the scary 70s movies for you.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Big Brother; the post-nuclear apocalypse edition.

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
21 October 2007

One of the most successful (and equally irritating) TV-formats of recent years is Big Brother, in which a bunch of people, complete strangers to each other, are put together in an isolated location and become forced to get along and accomplish ordeals together. Apparently this concept isn't so new or innovating at all, as the obscure (although less obscure now, with its recent release on DVD) and still criminally underrated 70's gem "Chosen Survivors" thrives on a similar premise. Only this movie is at least a gazillion times better than and Big Brother edition you ever saw, because it has genuine suspense, a formidable cast of characters, plot twists you actually don't see coming and – not to forget – thousands of bloodthirsty bats! Now, THAT is what they should do in the TV-series of Big Brother: unleash an army of aggressive and rabid bats on the attention-horny participants, ha! Ayway, "Chosen Survivors" opens with atmospheric images of the New Mexican desert and army helicopters approaching a secret underground lair. Eleven eminent persons, who achieved great things is different fields (sports, science, literature, business…) awake to hear they are the chosen survivors. On the earth's surface, a nuclear war has wiped out all humanity and they are to remain underground until it is safe again to re-populate the planet. But of course, the survivors don't get along as they should, some them behave overly hostile and suspicious and the hi-tech government designed lair isn't exactly bat-proof. The film offers a splendid combination of terrific character drawing, for psychological tension, and actual nail-bitingly tense situation with the bat attacks and the quest for freedom. H.B. Cross' script is excellent and Sutton Roley, usually a director of TV series episodes, does an amazing job providing the film with a genuine apocalyptic feeling. The acting performances are top-notch, with notably exceptional roles for Jackie Cooper as the arrogant Mr. Couzins and Bradford Dillman as the calm behavior analyst. Highly recommended Sci-Fi gem.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Would love to find a copy of film

Author: Roadkill1962 from St. Louis, MO
24 November 2004

Like the other person that reviewed the film, I was young (12) when I saw the film but I have thought about it many times since.

In fact, I was able to finally track down the title. I cannot say the movie was great but the premise was interesting and, for a 12 year old, plenty of frights. I must have checked over 100 sites to try and find the name of this film. Several scenes were memorable such as when the were being attacked in the control room and then when they were trying to escape by climbing out, since the elevator no longer was operable. If anyone has a copy of the film, I would appreciate being contacted so I can share it with my children.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A very creepy and effective little 70's B sci-fi/horror flick

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
15 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How's this for a really inspired and effective handy-dandy sci-fi/horror combo premise: Let's take your basic randomly selected motley assortment of everyday folks gathered together in a deep, isolated, self-contained underground nuclear fall-out shelter so they can survive an impending end-of-the-world holocaust tale and embellish on this standard situation with a borrowing from the then hip killer-animals-run-amuck trend by having a horde of vicious, relentless, chattering vampire bats with a taste for human blood attack the understandably terrified bunch at regular bloodcurdling intervals. Sounds like a pretty desperately reaching "high concept" effort, right? Well, that brusque blow-off assumption is wrong. Dead wrong.

Under episodic TV show vet Sutton Roley's taut, capable direction the admittedly threadbare story works surprisingly well, resulting in a genuinely scary, creepy and suspenseful nail-biter. The neatly varied cast helps a lot; they fill out their stock roles with commendable conviction. Former child actor Jackie Cooper portrays a cross, feet-of-clay rich jerk grumbler with stand-out sliminess. Constantly reliable B-pic perennials Richard Jaeckel (who later had a fatal run-in with a killer bear in "Grizzly" and got offed by a pack of wild dogs in "Day of the Animals") and Alex Cord (the latter bears a passing resemblance to tough guy thesp extraordinaire William Smith here) make for properly stalwart heroes. The always composed and elegant Diana Muldaur brings a welcome touch of class to the tense, grisly proceedings. Future "Hill Street Blues" regular Barbara Babcock is a lovely damsel in distress. A bespectacled Bradford Dillman (who went on to get stung to death by killer bees in "The Swarm" and had his face nibbled on by carnivorous fish in "Piranha") nerds it up nicely as a duplicitous dweeby scientist. Chronically unsung character actors Pedro Armendariz, Jr. and Lincoln Kilpatrick contribute solid performances as an eminently expendable decent dude and a gallant, rugged Olympic athlete, respectively. The sequence where Kilpatrick tries to climb out of the subterranean shelter on a rope is both gripping and nerve-wracking. The bat attacks are almost unbearably frightening and ferocious. The claustrophobic set design, Gabriel Torres' cramped, closed-in cinematography, Fred Karlin's jazzy, spooky score, the unremittingly eerie tone, and the bleakly ironic ending all add considerably to the gut-wrenching tension. And those nasty screeching bats are truly horrifying little suckers!

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Chosen Survivors (1974) **

Author: JoeKarlosi from U.S.A.
19 September 2007

This is a movie I've wanted to see for over 30 years now; I first read about it in horror magazines when it first came out, but it soon turned into a lost film that went completely out of circulation. It has now been made available by Fox as part of their Midnite Movies Collection, and I'm a little disappointed to say I wasn't missing all that much. It's not a "bad" genre film and it's got a good premise, but it's still rather ordinary in the way it's executed. A group of people are selected by computer, sedated, and then sent down 1,758 feet into an underground bomb shelter to see if they might sustain life in the event of a nuclear war. It was another of those perfect experiments hatched by the government, except they overlooked the fact that this project was built down within caves, so now swarms of hungry vampire bats manage to find their way into the bunker and chomp on these frantic chosen survivors. There's more talk going on than anything else, but when the bat attacks do occur, they're pretty satisfying, even if sometimes the special optical effects amount to little more than a flurry of dark splotches.

I got a kick out of seeing former Our Gang child actor Jackie Cooper as the main loudmouth of the bunch who at one point goes on a bender and becomes your basic arrogant pain in the ass character. Other '70s regulars among this cast are Richard Jaeckel (GRIZZLY) Bradford Dillman (BUG), and Lincoln Kilpatrick (THE OMEGA MAN). I thought I recognized director Sutton Roley's name from somewhere, and later I found out that's because he directed some LOST IN SPACE episodes and was primarily a TV show director. I'm not sorry I saw this, but it sure was some tepid tea. ** out of ****

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Bats behaving badly .............

Author: merklekranz from United States
25 July 2012

"Chosen Survivors" poses quite a few ethical questions, while taking extreme liberties with the reputation of vampire bats. The film has an almost fatal failing in that it introduces a dozen characters all at once. This of course means that character development is totally inadequate. We really know nothing about those unfortunate individuals who succumb to the blood sucking winged annoyances. On the positive side, many of the futuristic sets are intriguing, there are some unexpected twists, and the use of actual as well as animated bats lends realism. The movie occasionally grinds to a halt with meaningless small talk, but overall has definite entertainment value. - MERK

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Batty Bomb Shelter.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
7 October 2011

Chosen Survivors is directed by Sutton Roley and written by H.B. Cross. It stars Jackie Cooper, Alex Cord, Richard Jaeckel, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Babcock, Diana Muldaur and Lincoln Kilpatrick. Music is by Fred Karlin and cinematography by Gabriel Torres.

It's the eve of nuclear war and a government computer has selected a specialist group of people to live 1,758 feet underground in a nuclear proof, purpose built housing facility. The purpose is that these people can start to repopulate the Earth in five years time. However, something isn't quite right about this set-up and things take a distinctive turn for the worse when it's revealed that a colony of vampire bats have also made the facility their home.

It's far better than any plot synopsis suggests. True, it's very 70s, both in characters (clothing/delivery of dialogue/hair), and the effects used, but it also captures the zeitgeist of paranoia running at the time. Fear of nuclear war and the government hangs heavy, while the group dynamic under a stress situation makes for a tellingly oppressive mood. The whole thing has a bleakness about it, and that's before the vampire bats turn up hungry for what is apparently the only source of blood left available to them. The downbeat feel is further enforced by Karlin's music score, which often sounds like the synthesiser strains favoured by John Carpenter for some of his well revered culters. There's the expected bad turn of events with some of the characters, I mean it would be a dull film if everyone just got on all hunky dory, while there's a wicked twist that propels the narrative to another level of enjoyment for the viewer.

Competently acted by the cast, and effectively put together by Roley, Chosen Survivors is a neat horror/sci-fi hybrid. Not without some cheese and gaps in plotting for sure, but very effective and recommended on proviso you aren't looking to be cheered up! 7/10

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Chosen Survivors

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
30 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Selected intellectual minds, and important folks deemed special for forwarding the human race once a thermonuclear war is to rage across the globe, find themselves fighting for their very lives underground in their fancy governmentally (supposedly)secure bomb shelter well equipped with all the resources they could possibly need as vampire bats, which rest within a cavernous area secret to them, enter and attack when the group is most vulnerable. With a female assigned, via taped recording, guiding their day to day activities, offering a planned regimen for them to survive on, the group find themselves at odds with Raymond Couzins, a loudmouth who often stirs up bad vibes with his constant talk of conspiracy theories, and drunken insults. Yet, perhaps there is some truth to what he's saying as Dr. Peter Macomber(Bradford Dillman)holds a secret which will only add to the worsening mental state of the group as a whole. Realizing that they were merely part of an experiment on how a group could function together in an isolated situation, had such a catastrophic event taken place, the group hope that a signal had reached Washington, for Couzins, in a bumbling mishap that damages important electrical equipment resulting in the death of a member, leaves them with few alternatives left. Major Gordon Ellis(Richard Jaeckel)comes up with a method that could be quite dangerous..someone could climb an elevator shaft 17oo feet which could open a door to the outside providing a chance for contacting help. Macomber, despite the group's hostile feelings towards he and his government which put them in their difficult crisis, comes up with an idea on how to kill the bats, through electrocution by suckering them with blood as bait.

I must say that this was a pleasant form of entertainment. Sure, the special effects are rather inferior to today's modern technical improvements, but they didn't seem to bother me all that much because I found the cast so much fun to watch, and the premise was quite enjoyable. It's essentially mixes the always-reliable "animals attack" premise with the theme of nuclear war and how mankind could deal with such a thing. Perfectly capping these elements with a government conspiracy plot yielding terrified characters in search of an exit. Perfectly 70's carrying the sensibilities of the time, with a cast of familiar faces. I thought Dillman has a startlingly good scene where he admits to who he really is and the hoax that has put them all in grave danger..I think Dillman realistically displays the emotional weight his character is bearing in both coming clean with his confession while showing that he believed that the experiment was for the betterment of mankind. I thoroughly enjoyed Cooper as the antagonist, and Jaeckel is a delight as the sincere army man, burdened with keeping the underground shelter under operation despite a series of set-backs that make that nearly impossible. I also loved this confrontation between the accusing Couzins claiming Ellis was perhaps behind a conspiracy to keep them in the shelter..Jaeckel and Cooper produce some fireworks. Some performances are overwrought, as often was the case for Made-for-television movies with character actors, but I think the situation stressing and depressing those caught between a rock and a hard place, warranted such heightened emotions. I think Woody's elevator shaft climb was quite sure had me biting my nails. I do think the story provides some food for thought, and is a perfect time capsule of what was on the minds of the country at that time.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A little gem that deserves DVD treatment

Author: Mark S. Russell ( from Las Vegas, NV
23 February 2002

This is one film that, even though I have not seen it in years, deserves a DVD release. It was, when I saw it as a teenager, one of the scariest movies I had ever scene, and the ending sequence with the bat attack still brings back some shivers. I taught a Science Fiction class in a NJ high school and I had a budget for films - - I found this movie as a projection movie at a local distributor. After carefully discussing the plot with the class, and the graphic scenes, my class viewed the film and enjoyed it thoroughly as a message movie and a horror film. With more and more archive titles coming out on DVD, perhaps soon this "little gem" will be released. For those who have not seen this film, have patience - - - even though I have never seen it on Sci-Fi Channel or TBS or such - - this is a tidy little thriller that really delivers the goods!

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Scared the hell out of a couple of kids when it first came out

Author: foxion ( from Houston, Texas
29 September 2001

Is this movie really as gory as I remember it? My younger sister and I still talk about the time one of our older sisters dumped us off at the theater in order to get us out of the house while the parents were away. The movie playing that day was "Chosen Survivors". Yikes. If memory serves this one had plenty of blood on the walls and lots of bat attacks. Maybe there is more to this movie than blood and bats but that's all I can remember from it. I'd love to find this one on video to see how it has held up over the years.

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