Eleven carefully picked American men and women are sent deep below the Earth’s surface into a state of the art bunker as nuclear war is on the brink. Their task is to remain in the shelter until it is safe to return to the outside world to rebuild and repopulate. However, they quickly find out that they are not alone.
After only one night down below, they discover that the feathered friends that were brought along as pets all slaughtered in their cage. Desmodus rotundus, as they are technically called, are somehow in the bunker… and they need blood to survive. With no other options, they begin to hunt their human cohabitants.
This is the set up for the remaining 80 or so minutes of the film’s 99 minute runtime. There are a few twists and turns, as well as one interesting reveal… but the entire film can essentially be summed up as eleven people fighting for their lives against the vampire bats with which they are stuck in a sealed, underground bunker.
To call this film anything more than a B-movie sci-fi/horror film would be insincere, but it’s the kind of fun and schlocky camp that today’s film simply don’t possess anymore. In the modern era, all of the cheesiness in film seems to come with a wink and a nod towards the camera. “Yes, a tornado of sharks is cheesy and ridiculous, but we’re making a bad movie on purpose so that makes it good!” Yet, with a film like Chosen Survivors, the audience is treated to the same cheesy ridiculousness, but played with sincerity and fervor. The melodrama of yesteryear still resonates with many genre film fans, myself included. It would be a delight if modern filmmakers could embrace the melodrama and camp of such films without continually reminding us that they are in on the joke.
The 70s sci-fi vibe is all over this film, from the soundtrack to the effects to the specific brand of post-apocalyptic world presented to the viewer. Combine this vibe with some decent practical gore effects and the shrill shriek of real bats to create an effective and enjoyable B-movie that surely deserved a good re-release on Blu-ray.
Kino Lorber’s release of this 1974 camp “classic” drops today via their Studio Classics collection. It comes with a gallery of trailers and a commentary from Richard Harland Smith (film historian and critic for a slew of publications, including blogging for Turner Classic Movies). You can (and should) grab yourself a copy of this fun little gem at Amazon.