TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CHOSEN SURVIVORS (1974)

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CHOSEN SURVIVORS (1974)

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70s disaster/sci-fi flick has a select group of people sent into a bomb shelter deep below the earth’s crust as nuclear war breaks out on the surface. This diverse group of people were chosen to ensure the human race’s continued existence in case such a scenario occurred. Mankind’s survival comes into question, however, as the group find that they are not in the shelter alone.

While this flick had the right premise for an entertaining chiller, it is directed with deadpan dullness by Sutton Roley from a script by H.B. Cross. Roley’s body of work is predominately in episodic television and it shows, as the film looks like the episode of a TV show. For the most part the film is extremely talky with characters whining, crying or yelling at each other over their predicament for most of the run time. The idea of vampire bats invading an advanced bomb shelter is amusing, but Roley has no idea what to do with it and what few scenes of bloody bat carnage there are, are by-the-numbers and have very little bite. While we have some veteran actors here, the characters are not very interesting, or all that likable, so we really don’t care if they end up as bat food. The SPFX are pitifully bad with the bat swarms being terrible animated blobs swirling about and the bloodshed is strictly routine. The pace is rather slow and it all adds up to a waste of what could have been a fun idea.

Roley doesn’t get much out of a cast of decent actors, either. Jackie Cooper is the stereotype arrogant and angry businessman. Bradford Dillman is the nerdy scientist with a secret. Richard Jaeckel is the military representative who knows more than he is letting on and Alex Cord is a character simply there for breeding purposes.  The cast also features Diana Muldar and Barbara Babcock as female members of the ‘chosen’ who also seem to be just there for procreation. A cast of veterans completely wasted.

This is a sad misuse of a good exploitation movie premise. It’s extremely talky and is directed very by-the-numbers by Sutton Roley. When the bats do attack, the FX are laughable and even the PG rated bloodshed is too tame to make an impact. If there ever is a flick that could use a remake by a director that gets the material, it’s this one.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 2 vampire bats.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BUG (1975)

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Bug (1975)

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BUG (1975)

This 70s creature feature from legendary producer and gimmick-meister William Castle is an important film to me as it was the first movie I ever saw at Hackensack’s Oritani Theater. It was on a double feature with At The Earth’s Core (the movie I really wanted to see) and it was the only time I was at the theatre before it became a triplex. Based on Thomas Page’s novel, The Hephaestus Plague, this story of an earthquake unleashing an army of prehistoric, fire-starting cockroaches on a rural desert town, really spooked the heck out of me when I saw it at ten years of age. A recent revisit has made me take a more objective look at this creepy chiller and it is, in ways, still very effective.

Bug has some great 70s nostalgic charm now as it takes it’s far fetched story quite seriously and director Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2) makes it work by doing exactly that. The cast also play it serious as these lethal, incendiary insects begin to set everything and everyone in town ablaze and science teacher, Prof. James Parmiter (Bradford Dillman) tries to study and stop them. That’s where Bug’s script by Page and William Castle deviates from the norm, as Dillman’s scientist becomes obsessed with these creatures. The film shifts gears in the final act to become more of a Frankenstein-like tale, as Parmiter’s studies lead to experiments, including cross breeding these creepy critters. Since we all know where Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments lead to, it’s no secret the good professor should have just let the fire starting bugs be. As his subjects start to show an uncanny intelligence, Parmiter may have turned a dangerous menace into a real monster, echoing Mary Shelley’s tale. This flick with it’s plot straight out of a 50s sci-fi movie, is creepy, fun, 70s stuff. Check out the trailer below, it’s a hoot!

 3 (out of 4) incendiary cockroaches!

bug rating

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