Survive! DVD Review: Mexploitation Cannibal Goodness with Hugo Stiglitz

Some of you may remember the 1993 film Alive, which depicted a Hollywood account of the fateful Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 disaster of 1972. Seventeen years prior, Mexican exploitation filmmaker René Cardona produced a feature called Supervivientes de los Andes, which was released in America under the strikingly-similar-to-the-1993-title-Alive, Survive! (exclamation point included). Mexi/Euro superstar Hugo Stiglitz stars in this low-budget tale of survival, which was written for the screen by Cardona’s son, René, Jr, who also brought us several other exploitative class-icks such as Beaks: The Movie, Guyana: Cult of the Damned, and The Night of a Thousand Cats (among others).

If you’ve seen Alive, or are even remotely familiar with the events surrounding the harrowing real-life ordeal, Survive! depicts the plight of the passengers of Flight 571 — which consists of a rugby team, their friends and family — whose plane crashes high in the Andes during an otherwise-routine flight, leaving the survivors marooned in a harsh, unforgiving terrain of snow, ice, and little else. For the next two months-plus, the roster of unlucky travelers dwindles down from forty-five to sixteen, as they are forced to do whatever it takes to keep on living — including eating the bodies of the deceased.

Essentially, Survive! is little more than B-movie fodder, the kind best fit for a gloomy, snowed-in afternoon with a raw steak at your disposal. Cardona’s effort is a restrained one, and it appears he is trying to honor the tragedy. That said, however, the film’s low production values still manage to make the whole feature look like a cheap exploitation flick (and it is) — but then, that’s what I like about this one. Unavailable on home video in the U.S. for many years, VCI Entertainment has brought us a barebones, anamorphic widescreen presentation of the dubbed American cut of this overlooked “Mexploitation” flick. The original Spanish-language version (which runs some 26-minutes longer) is also included here, though it is shown here in a full-frame format.

While it’s nice to see the movie again (I love cheap survival movies), the biggest problem with this release is that the cover advertises there being English subtitles for the uncut Spanish-language cut. In reality, the optional subtitles are only available for the shorter, dubbed version. Hopefully, someone someday somewhere with a better grasp of the idioma Español than myself will create some subtitles — that, or maybe VCI will fix the issue and offers up some replacement discs (or, at the very least, correct the wording on the DVD cover).

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Luigi Bastardo

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