You never know where an oddity will resurface on home video – and some can go for decades without emerging on video. Survive! used to be a good example of such a phantom title: despite its impressive commercial success, it essentially became a lost film in the U.S. after its release. Fans had to settle for obtaining a foreign VHS version or a rare (and edited) t.v. screening. In the last few years, a full-screen version of the original full-length Mexican version appeared on DVD under its own title, Sobrevivientes De Los Andes. However, the American cut – the choice of exploitation film fanatics – remained lost to the sands of time.
VCI has recently released a DVD with both versions on one disc. This release has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you get an anamorphic presentation of the American cut, with none of the censoring seen in t.v. prints. Though the image source looks clean and the sound quality is good the transfer is frequently soft in detail (close-ups fare the best) and a bit faded in its colors. The package credits Blair And Associates with doing a remastering job on this version but the results are hit and miss. English subtitles are also included for this version.
The Spanish-language version is presented full-frame, in a version obviously taken from an old video master. Unfortunately, the producers of this disc forgot to include English subtitles to go with it. This makes it really difficult for non-Spanish speakers to do a compare-and-contrast between the two versions. That said, the Sobrevivientes De Los Andes DVD isn’t too tough to find if you really want a version with English subs.
In short, this release isn’t all it could be, given the soft transfer of the main attraction and the lack of subs on the Mexican version. However, it is highly unlikely that Paramount will reach back into its vaults to dish up a remastered version of Survive! and the print presented here is watchable. Given that this is the only way exploitation film students will be able to see Survive! in its American cut in the foreseeable future, it is a useful resource to have in your collection despite its flaws.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Survive!, click here.
To learn about the history of Survive!, start by clicking here.