SURVIVAL QUEST earned its only superlative when a critic called it "one of the least visible movies ever to bear the fabled MGM logo." After the briefest of theatrical releases, it came out on videocassette in a double bill with another forgettable wilderness adventure, DAMNED RIVER.
SURVIVAL QUEST follows two sets of campers into California's Sierra Madre Mountain. One group is the Blue Legion, a gun-happy squad of teenaged boys under the command of tyrannical survivalist Jake Cannon (Mark Rolston). The other bunch, Survival Quest, is a sort of backpacking self-help group led
by humane mountain man Hank Chambers (Lance Henriksen). The beneficiaries of Hank's wisdom include smart-aleck Joey (Paul Provenza), Cheryl (Catharine Keener), a fragile divorcee, and Gray (Dermot Mulroney), an alienated convict. Through various exercises and object lessons beneath the sheltering
pines, firm-but-gentle Hank teaches this crew to "strive as one and not to yield." Meanwhile, Jake has made harassment of the Survival Questers part of his curriculum, but when one ill-mannered junior storm trooper called Raider (Steve Antin) ends up shooting Hank, this breach of discipline annoys
Jake to no end. He starts to beat his overzealous charge, but Raider responds by "fragging" his commander and blaming the murder on the Survival Questers. Now led by Raider, the Blue Legion aims to kill the rival campers (first executing the few Blue Legionnaires who want to negotiate a truce).
The Survival Quest gang, with Cheryl in charge, hang together and race over the river and through the woods to get to the nearest airstrip. There, Gray tricks the bloodthirsty Legionnaires into coming near an inflammable fuel tank, and as the odor of fried fascists rises on the breeze, a plane
appears. On board is Hank, who managed to overcome his grievous wound and signal for help.
Written and directed by B-movie maven Don Coscarelli (creator of the "Phantasm" series), SURVIVAL QUEST is a dim but passable diversion. The notion of a mismatched bunch learning to cooperate and surmount terrible obstacles is an old formula, but it still works, even though these characters are
pretty flat--their stereotyped introductions recalling a 1970s disaster movie. Fortunately, the very capable Henriksen is around to add flavor. With his leathery voice and larger-than-life warmth, he's the best thing in the picture. Regrettably, Rolston, another strong personality (who teamed with
Henriksen in ALIENS), is permitted to display only the very least of his acting abilities; his character is basically a walking cartoon. Watching Hank's cooperative crew triumph over Jake's psycho platoon should be satisfying, but the film actually starts to lose interest once the bloodshed
begins, mainly because Henriksen and Rolston are out of the picture. The action scenes are nothing special, and one stunt involving a log teetering on the edge of the waterfall looks like a playground ride. SURVIVAL QUEST was filmed in 1986, but Coscarelli took a hiatus from the post-production
work when the chance arose to work on PHANTASM II (1988). (Profanity, violence, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: SURVIVAL QUEST earned its only superlative when a critic called it "one of the least visible movies ever to bear the fabled MGM logo." After the briefest of theatrical releases, it came out on videocassette in a double bill with another forgettable wildern… (more)