The October Diaries: Sole Survivor

Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Chrisjof

October 10th, 2014:
Sole Survivor

Year: 1983
Director: Thom Eberhardt
Vehicle: VHS 
From IMDB: A lone survivor of a plane crash is haunted by a feeling unworthy of survival. Dead people start coming after her to collect her.

Chrisjof’s Take:

Sole Survivor is a real good movie about a strange murder trial: the soles of someone’s feet are the prime suspects in a series of murders. This can’t be verified by the police-judge because feet never leave fingerprints. So, like, they are free to roam, still attached to our hero’s body. It is she who must solve this mystery alone. She is the survivor in this tale, and you start to suspect it might be because the soles are totally using her for her biology. They need her alive.

Or so we all think!

The twist ending [SPOILER] is that the soles are innocent! It was the palms of her hands the whole time! There’re hints in the mise-en-scene, such as the poster for Palm Beach inside the refrigerator when she reaches for a jar of Palm Oil to eat as a midnight snack. I know, I know – I should have seen it coming! I felt like a world-class dope, but I also respected the movie more for pulling the wool so tight and snug over these balls of eyes of mine. 18 Stars & Thumbs!


It’s not about that.

It was alright.

It was a good level of cinematic quality for a VHS viewing. And I mean that equally as compliment and insult.

I was worried Denise, the protagonist, would be more of a stereotype since we are introduced to her when she is comparing her survival of an airplane crash to buying a dress and not getting charged for it, but I was relieved that it didn’t carry on quite that ludicrously.

Hey, here’s some stuff I liked about it:

  1. I thought Denise and her sexy/polite-doctor love interest did a good job of making me believe their chemistry and fairly immediate intimacy.
  2. The detail of including a Santa jingle-running to catch an elevator felt like that Thom Eberhardt charm he would go on to develop as he directed Night of the Comet and Captain Ron.
  3. It brought along a fair serving of slow-suspense built by a sometimes extraterrestrial score.
  4. The mortician. Love that man. He is ridiculous. He has an 80’s attitude that belongs in a much different movie, but still a Thom Eberhardt movie for sure.

Sole Survivor VHS

Sean’s Take:

I think it takes a rare group of friends to seek out a VHS of an out-of-print movie based solely on the fact that it comes from the director of Captain Ron. That was the case with Thom Eberhardt’s Sole Survivor.

The movie follows the sole survivor of a plane crash, Denise, as she adjusts to life after the crash. She has a lot of understandable “Why me?” type moments that she has to contend with, all while falling into a sweet new romance with the doctor who is helping her with this reacclimation.

Anita Skinner, who plays Denise, was a bright spot. Her performance seemed more complex than the neighboring characters and she offered some great comedic moments born from anxious circumstances.

The plot has a Final Destination vibe that pre-dated Final Destination by seventeen years. Death is seemingly out to get her as a variety of corpses in close proximity try to kill her. This was a cool plot device, having recently deceased bodies, ones that died of reasons extraneous to the principal plot, come back to life for a just a moment in order to enact death’s belated call. For instance, an old guy ran his car off the road and died. But before his corpse is found it stalks our heroine, does a bit of murder, then returns back to the car; his place of initial death.

This strange phenomena leads the local morgue attendant to ponder aloud, and often, why all the recent bodies have all their blood pooled down in their feet, no matter how they die — the result of all the post-mortem death-strolls.

The movie was more of a slow-burn than I expected, but I never lost patience with it. Skinner’s performance, and some light touches applied to dark moments, elevated my esteem and kept my attention.

All told, it wasn’t as nearly as good as Captain Ron. But, really, what is?



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