The Survivor (1981 film)

The Survivor is a 1981 Australian horror thriller film directed by David Hemmings and starring Robert Powell and Jenny Agutter, based on a novel of the same name by James Herbert. It saw the final film appearance of actor Joseph Cotten.

The Survivor
Theatrical film poster
Directed byDavid Hemmings
Produced byAntony I. Ginnane
Screenplay byDavid Ambrose
Based onNovel by
James Herbert
StarringRobert Powell
Jenny Agutter
Joseph Cotten
Music byBrian May
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited byTony Paterson
Distributed byGreater Union Organization Umbrella Entertainment (AUS)
Warner Bros. Pictures (US/International)
Release date
  • 9 July 1981 (1981-07-09) (Australia)
Running time
100 minutes
Box officeUS$700,000 (international) (est.)[1]


A pilot survives the crash of his Boeing 747-200, unhurt despite all of its 300 passengers dying in the accident. With no memories of the accident, he starts to suffer strange supernatural visions, guiding him to suspect that something happened in the crash and that the accident maybe wasn't an accident.



$350,000 of the budget was invested by the South Australian Film Corporation, with a similar amount coming from English investors. The rest came from Greater Union, a TV sale and private investment.[1]

Prior to filming David Hemmings and Antony I Ginnane discussed whether to make the film gory or more cerebral in the vein of The Innocents (1961). They chose the latter, a decision Ginnane later said was a mistake.[1]

Ginnane asked Brian Trenchard-Smith to cut a ten-minute trailer to promote the film to potential buyers before it had been finished. This meant he had to shoot some shots of Jenny Agutter. He later cut the trailer for the actual film when it was released.[2]


James Herbert, who wrote the novel upon which the film was based, described the film as "terrible ... absolute rubbish."[3]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(1981 AFI Awards)
Best Actress Jenny Agutter Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Sound Peter Fenton Nominated
Tim Lloyd Nominated
Best Production Design Bernard Hides Nominated
Sitges Film Festival Medalla Sitges for Best Screenplay David Ambrose Won
Prize of the International Critics' Jury David Hemmings Won

See also


  1. David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p299-300
  2. Brian Trenchard Smith on The Survivor at Trailers From Hell
  3. "James Herbert Interview (Others)". David J. Howe.

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