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Ghost Canyon

Street Survivors: True Story Of Lynyrd Skynyrd
(Samuel Kay Forrest, Lelia Symington, Sean Mcnabb, Ian Shultis, Taylor Clift, et al / Blu-ray + DVD + CD / NR / 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: In 1977, a plane carrying Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd mysteriously runs out of gas mid-air en route to a concert, crashing into a dangerous Mississippi swamp while killing several of the band members, crew and both pilots.

'Street Survivors: True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash' tells the story through one of the survivors, drummer Artimus Pyle, who not only survived the fatal crash (that claimed the life of the band's founder and front man Ronnie Van Zant amongst others), but who also bravely pulled the remaining survivors out of the plane wreckage before staggering towards the nearest farmhouse in rural Mississippi to seek help.

Blu-ray Verdict: Personally, I have known the music of the Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd for a few decades now, but only as a casual fan, and not a deeply rooted one.

Of course, that said, I was fully aware of this horrific tragedy that befell the group in 1977, but didn't really delve into it, as a whole.

Nor did I ever learn the consequences of the years after, but now we have this film and, well, it most certainly reveals what happened after the crash to the members left behind.

Simply put, 'Street Survivors: True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash' is told through the voice of band member Artimus Pyle (who joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1974 and who appears here on camera in various interview segments).

Watching along, and forgoing the fact that it comes across as a subpar VH-1 recreation documentary at first, chock full of rock star excesses, and then latterly becoming more of a forebodingly grim retrospective of that tragic crash, we learn that it was Pyle's passion for their brand of music that got him to join the group.

Although as he himself admits, they were a very talented group, sure, but he didn't initially sign up for all the antics that were to become a subsequently big part of life for him/them on the road!

Indeed, Pyle (played here by a very competent Ian Shultis) went on to actually be known as "the wild man of Southern rock" for his antics and during a gig in New Jersey in 1977, he even jumped into the crowd to quell a disturbance!

The band's singer, Ronnie Van Zant, remarked, "We keep him in a cage and feed him raw meat, only let him out when it's time to play."

And during a gig in London, England, he was lowered to the stage by a trapeze rope while hallucinating on mescaline!

Despite such stunts, Pyle was relatively even-keeled compared to his raucous bandmates, and spent much of his time trying to defuse chaos caused by excessive drug and alcohol intake.

But, of course, the biggest draw for followers and those new to the legend of this tragedy, is how it all went down in the first place.

Having survived the 1977 plane crash that killed Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister Cassie Gaines (who was also one of the background vocalists), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, and the two pilots, Pyle himself suffered torn chest cartilage, but he managed to stumble several hundred yards through a creek and a freshly plowed field to a farmhouse to get help.

The appearance of Pyle alarmed the 21-year-old farmer, Johnny Mote, who fired a warning shot over Pyle's head, instead hitting him in the shoulder according to Pyle!

The misunderstanding was quickly cleared up after Pyle shouted that there had been a plane crash, and the farmer helped him inside his house.

About the same time, local rescuers, who had just completed a Civil Defense drill, converged on the scene and Pyle directed them to the crash site where the dead and the injured were located.

One of the biggest things that stands out for me is that throughout this rather in-depth, if not overly revealing documentary film, is that the passion for their job, the music they brought forth over the years, and the massive connection the group shared through their music to their fans, was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the strongest bonds that any group must have ever had with their fan base in history.

As for the co-pilot here, detailing his own life before and afterward, Pyle (who played drums with Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1974 to 1977 and from 1987 to 1991) showcases the heart of someone who was obviously part of something that seems almost larger than life, and was instantly taken away from him in such tragic circumstances.

With principal photography on the film having actually begun way back in April of 2017 in Los Angeles, weirdly enough in August of that very same year, a United States District Court judge issued a court injunction, blocking production of the film (due to legal battles between current and former Lynyrd Skynyrd members).

Come October of 2018, a second United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned previous injunction against what was to be called 'Street Survivors,' and so they set back to work.

This, at-times breathtakingly surreal film is the end result and one acted well by all concerned and tells the story of one of the biggest air tragedies to have ever involved famous musicians. This a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.