Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Survivalist

The Survivalist (aka Jack Tillman, Survivalist)
1987, USA
dir. Sig Shore
cast: Steve Railsback, Marjoe Gortner, Cliff De Young

A mysterious nuclear explosion in Siberia brings the superpowers to the verge of nuclear war. Panic sweeps America and law and order collapses. The Constitution is suspended, martial law is declared and the National Guard mobilised. Jack Tillman is a construction contractor, Vietnam vet and survivalist. After a run in with the National Guard at his local bank, the Guard, headed up by local no good biker and Tillman's long time rival Lt Youngman (Gortner with a grey mullet) decide he must be made an example of. I say run in, he actually smashes the front of the bank in with a JCB to get a safety deposit box where he's got gold to barter with or something. As Tillman travels across country to retrieve his son, he is pursued by the National Guard biker gang.
Perhaps surprisingly, there seems to be very few films aimed at the survivalist demographic. This is one of them, playing out like your average militia fantasy- society breaking down without a bomb being dropped, the usual evil biker gang actually being part of the government (you do wonder how they get by with long hair and fruity make up in the military, perhaps this was a comment on the degeneracy of the secular liberal state?) and the good, honest small business man becoming the oppressed. It paints possibly one of the most depressing pictures of humanity in any post-apocalypse film, everyone turns into a mindless looter (with even the local hospital being attacked by drug hungry junkies), his doctor friend is portrayed as crazy for wanting to return to town to help people and is murdered for his pick up truck and it's every man for himself in a way that makes Panic In The Year Zero look like a piece of bleeding heart liberal propaganda. That would be one thing if it was a half way entertaining film, but it's just a sub-par action movie with some ropey acting and undistinguished action sequences, there's not even much in the way of unintentional humour to commend it.
NB: this is nothing to do with the Survivalist books by Jerry Ahern,which was a popular post-apocalypse men's adventure series in the 1980s.

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