Sole Survivor (1983 film)

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Sole Survivor
Code Red DVD's release artwork
Directed by Thom Eberhardt
Produced by Don Barkemeyer
Written by Thom Eberhardt
  • Anita Skinner
  • Kurt Johnson
  • Caren Larkey
Music by David F. Anthony
R. & C. Larkey
Distributed by International Film Marketing
Release date
  • December 1983 (1983-12)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States of America
Language American English

Sole Survivor is an American 1983 horror film written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, in his feature film debut.

Plot summary[edit]

TV commercial producer Denise (Anita Skinner) emerges unscathed as the sole survivor of an airliner crash and feels as if she's about to be caught by something. Her doctor/boyfriend Brian (Ken Johnson) is convinced that she's experiencing "survivor's syndrome" in which sole survivors experience guilt and either commit suicide or put themselves in dangerous situations. Denise also receives some ambiguous warnings from psychic ex-actress Carla (Caren Larkey) who predicted the crash. A series of strange sightings and encounters of zombie-like people escalates until it is apparent that something is trying to kill her as people around her start dying as well. Her skeptical boyfriend thinks Denise is going crazy until he finds out that a number of recently dead people - including one that Denise claims attacked her - were found with all of the blood in their bodies drained into their legs as if they had died standing upright.[1]

Plagued by night fears as well as a series of near-miss accidents that happen to her, Denise confides in her best friend and neighbor Kristy (Robin Davidson) about what is happening, but Kristy too remains skeptic. Denise becomes convinced that what is happening to her is supernatural in nature. Thinking that she was supposed to die in the air crash, Denise speculates that the specter of death is making people who have recently died come back to life and to stalk her before finding an opportunity to kill her to finish what the chain of events that began with the plane crash started.

One rainy evening, when a man, a health inspector who just died, breaks into Denise's house, he happens to find Kristy instead whom he kills by drowning. Denise walks in and barely escapes and calls the police who take her in for questioning only to find the man that Denise pointed who attacked her was found dead a short distance away and who had been dead for several hours. Also, Kristy's body is missing. When Brian talks with his pathologist friend Artie (William Snare) who tells him about irregular happenings in dead bodies (whom include a little girl, a homeless man, as well as the health inspector that attempted to kill Denise) had lividity of their blood draining into their legs as if they had been walking around after death, Brian begins to suspect that Denise might be telling the truth.

Meanwhile, the zombie Kristy murders a taxi driver who stops for her, and both of them attempt to kill Denise the following evening in her house. Brian arrives with a gun to attempt to stop them or help Denise, but he too ends up getting stabbed and killed by the undead Kristy. Denise manages to escape from her house, and drives through the nearby city which is deserted, but her car breaks down and she finds herself alone on the streets... aware that somewhere in a hospital or a morgue or a back alley that there is a person who has just died and will become a reanimated corpse for the sole purpose of killing her. The scared Denise manages to board a passing late-night bus and arrives at Carla's house with Brian's gun where she confides in Carla about what is going on and asks for help. But Carla, who has not spoken a word since Denise arrived at her house, takes the gun, revealing herself to be an undead cadaver having committed suicide minutes earlier by slashing her wrists in a bathtub, and shoots Denise dead before going back to the bathtub.

The final scene has Artie at the morgue with the bodies of Denise, Brian, Carla, Kristy and the taxi driver. Artie continues to be puzzled at how the blood in the bodies of the last three corpses drained into their legs. After talking to a skeptic police detective over the phone over the irregularity, Artie begins to finally suspect something strange is going on. In the final shot, as Artie begins to type out a report of his find, the bodies of Kristy and the others rise up from their slabs behind him to presumably kill him too to keep the supernatural events of the walking dead suppressed.


  • Anita Skinner as Denise Watson
  • Kurt Johnson as Brian Richardson
  • Robin Davidson as Kristy Cutler
  • Caren Larkey as Karla Davis
  • Andrew Boyer as Blake
  • Daniel Cartwell as Lt. Patterson
  • Wendy Blake as Roxie
  • Steven Isbell as the Cabbie
  • William Snare as Artie
  • Clay Wilcox as Randy
  • Brinke Stevens as Jennifer
  • Leon Robinson as the Gang Leader


The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by International Film Marketing in December 1983. Vestron Video released it on VHS in 1985.[2]

The film was released on DVD in the United States by Code Red DVD in 2008.[3]


Tristan Sinns of Dread Central rated it 4/5 stars and compared it positively to the Final Destination film series.[4] Bill Gibron of DVD Talk rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote that the film's slow pace causes it to be dull.[5] Tom Becker of DVD Verdict called it "a chilly and effective little creeper" that pre-dates Final Destination.[6] Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle called it "essentially a reworking of the classic Carnival of Souls" with zombies.[7]


  1. ^ SOLE SURVIVOR (1983) - Bleeding Skull
  2. ^ "New Releases". Billboard. 97 (37): 38. September 14, 1985. 
  3. ^ "Sole Survivor (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  4. ^ Sinns, Tristan (2008-04-27). "Sole Survivor (DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-13. 
  5. ^ Gibron, Bill (2008-07-09). "Sole Survivor". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-13. 
  6. ^ Becker, Tom (2010-01-15). "Sole Survivor". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2015-02-13. 
  7. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6. 

External links[edit]