Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who's the Best... Disaster Movie?


Anonymous said...

I'd go with either the Poseidon Adventure or the Towering Inferno!

- Mike 'trainwreck' from Trinidad & Tobago.

david_b said...

Shooting from the hip, I'd agree with our distinquished, honored representative from Trinidad & Tobago.

Those were the first two to come to my mind that I'd watch again. Always fun to see leading men wearing turtlenecks.

The tagline for the Poseidon movie should have been...:


William said...

The greatest movie disaster of all time is probably Battlefield Earth, that flick gave a whole new meaning to the word "bomb". I mean… Oh wait, that says best "disaster movie" not… movie disaster.

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

Dangnabbit William!!! I was going to say ISHTAR!!!

But I mean it. I cry every time I watch that movie.

The Prowler (been too long I'm glad to be back).

Anonymous said...

I'd say The Poseidon Adventure too, the ship turning over is a great scene and I like that song "The Morning After" (sadly never a hit in Britain). My mother went to see The Towering Inferno and she said she was the only person in the cinema !! There was also a TV movie I remember about an asteroid crashing on Phoenix, Arizona. The Simpsons did a hilarious spoof of a disaster movie in the episode "Bart's Comet".

Humanbelly said...

I bet the majority of us 'round here likely saw these films when they were first shown on television as the CBS SUNDAY NIGHT MOVIE, or similar, right? Yes? HUGE TV-watching events that were always the talk of the playground the next day. . . with the kids whose parents actually late them stay up late and watch the whole thing commanding tremendous attention and status as they breathlessly recounted everything the vast majority of us had missed. My best pal Bryan was usually one of those kids, and he had a great knack for weaving a narrative along w/ his own humorous spin on it. His recap of the last half of POSEIDON ADVENTURE was all I had to go on for quite a long time.

Of the genre, I kind of think the grand-daddy AIRPORT might be literally "The Best", since it manages to be juggle several plot-lines very effectively, and the writing (and most of the acting) manages-- albeit barely-- to not succumb completely to the one-dimensional, short-cut-embracing, over-wrought campiness that pretty much became the hallmark of the genre, like, within the next week or two. And Helen Hayes was a HOOT-- can I get an Amen?

But- my personal favorite is still gonna be POSEIDON ADVENTURE (once I finally did see it, mind you). It's formulaic (although it was kind of creating the formula itself, so-- not so big a sin), it's overwrought, it's logistically suspect-- but it's darned entertaining, y'know? Maybe it's the fact that there's a big ol' bunch of solid, well-known character actors (hmm- at least five Oscars among that bunch, too-- impressive!), and they're clearly game to get their hands and everything else quite dirty crawling around an admittedly VERY cool bunch of sets. Ah, it makes me want to go pick it up at the thrift store and watch it again--!

All of that being lengthily said-- would folks here consider CHINA SYNDROME to be a disaster film? It's not exactly representative of the genre as we think of it, but-- what else could it be? If so, to my mind that's seriously the best one of the bunch. Brilliantly acted, suspenseful, highly disturbing film.

Also (last comment, I promise), could a case be made that this recent GODZILLA may have had more in common with being a disaster film than being a monster film? Or is that just a perpetual similarity between the two (Disaster vs. Giant Monster)?


Edo Bosnar said...

For me it's a toss-up between Airplane! and Airplane II ... :P

Anonymous said...

I think most of us were of the age that Poseidon made a lasting impact on our young minds. And, as usual, to pile on HB's posting, would one consider The Andromeda Strain a disaster movie? Another more recent one is Right At Your Door. That movie dealt with dirty bombs going off in LA. Not so much a disaster movie but a real time documentary, there is a film by two French brothers who were covering the first year for NYC Fire cadets and were Ground Zero for 9/11.

The Prowler (once went Medieval on a Chinese buffet).

Humanbelly said...

Boy, ANDROMEDA STRAIN's a great film, Prowl-- that hadn't even occurred to me. I think at the time it may have been SF, but today might even be more aptly thought of as similar to China Syndrome, y'know?

I watched that 9/11 documentary on youtube a couple of years ago-- truly, deeply moving and agonizing. I don't think you could call it a disaster film, though, as it was ultimately a journalistic documentary of real-time events, y'know? And those events were deliberate and malevolant, as opposed to being the result of a confluence of chance circumstances. Oh, it chokes me up just bringing it back to mind, though.


Anonymous said...

Airplane! represented; 'nuff said! :-)

Doug said...

One thing all of these disaster films had in common? There are some "men's men" in those casts! Heston, Kennedy, McQueen, Roundtree... No shortage of testosterone!


Humanbelly said...

Burt Lancaster, Lorne Greene, Borgnine, Jimmy Stewart! (In one of the awful Airport sequels)-- yeah, lots of guys who knew their way around a movie bar brawl or a gun-fight or two. Some of the pervasive alpha male chauvinism does get to be a little hard to take, I must confess. The fact that sooo many of the protagonists/heroes are wrestling w/ the complications of having an unhappy, suffering wife AND a younger, faithful, waiting-for-her-man mistress tended to deal a mortal blow to my sympathy for them. (Even w/ Chuck Heston ultimately making the "right" choice pretty much after it was too late in EARTHQUAKE--)

(Quite a truck he was drivin' around in, too, wasn't it? Something like 12 forward gears and 4 in reverse? Good grief. . . what's being compensated for, here?)


david_b said...

HB, are you referring to those current Viagra commercials..?

"12 forward gears, 4 in reverse..?"

Hey, whaaaatever it takes, sir.

Humanbelly said...


(Actually, it sounds more like something involving bionics/cybernetics. . . but I shan't go there. . . )

(Karen, Teresa-- pay NO attention to this conversation. . . )

The small-market HD Antennae broadcast stations favored in our household aren't Viagra-centric so much as they rely on saturation-advertising from failed vaginal mesh lawsuit attorneys. *shudder*


Karen said...

Hmm,I guess I always thought of 'Andromeda Strain' as a science fiction film (and a good one too) rather than a disaster film, mainly because of the scale. But I suppose a case could be made for it -if the virus got loose!

The 70s probably had the best disaster movies, just because they were the originals. 'Poseidon' might be the best in overall terms. I also have a fondness though for 'Twister' with Bill Paxton -he's pretty much watchable in anything, isn't he? I also like 'Deep Impact,' which was the smart asteroid movie in 1998.

Humanbelly said...

TWISTER is a memorable one, I agree. That opening sequence just devastated me, w/ the dad getting pulled away by the vortex. (I've always been plagued by an assortment of recurring tornado dreams.) It loses a few points in that end sequence where Bill P and Holly H are literally running away from the approaching vortex wall, which is, oh, 10 yards behind them. There's a rather comic discrepancy between the wind-havoc going on right next to them and the fact that they're able to run away w/out any impediment from the winds whatsoever. (But I nitpick. . . ). Second or third most terrifying thing in Wizard of Oz for me? That flippin' tornado RIGHT THERE in the background, bearing down on the Gale farm. . .


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the virus getting loose, would that make "Contagion" a disaster movie? That had the threat of the world wide pandemic hanging over our heads.

Just an aside, I've been Mad About Helen Hunt since her "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" days.

Another aside to the previous aside, Bill Paxton in "Aliens" makes what was a great movie into an instant classic!!!! "Let's just put her in charge" is the high point of the movie for me.

So aside I'm besides myself: Round Rock Donut Shop in Round Rock Texas makes a 13" donut. A Baker's Dozen cooked in one round circle. And to add insult to injury, they make a 13" cinnamon roll as well.

The Prowler (when Helen puts her hair behind her ear.......shudder shudder shudder).

Humanbelly said...

Oh Prowl, we find ourselves appreciating the same thing yet again-!

(Thank you for the Helen Hunt correction, btw-- I realized the moment I sent my post that I'd mixed her up w/ Holly Hunter for the bajillionth time.)

Another part of Bill P's lament in that same scene-- "We're in some pretty sh*t now! That's it, man-- game over-!"-- became a decades-long catch phrase for my crew & I when things would sometimes go awry in a build or load-in. He's one of the most inspiring characters in ALIENS 'cause, good god, he is SO SCARED HE'S UNHINGED. . . and yet manages to make himself function in spite of it. He's as close to a really recognizable guy as you'll find in a film filled with remarkable characters.

I do think you could call movies like CONTAGION and OUTBREAK disaster films, sure. I guess the genre itself could bear a bit of defining, couldn't it? What makes it specifically a "disaster" and not a techno-thriller. . . or sci-fi. . . or an adventure film. . . or even a historical drama or war film?


Redartz said...

Yes, Edo! Airplane!!! Surely one of the greatest of the genre ( and no, I won't call you Shirley).

But seriously, folks, how about another fairly recent disaster film: Dante's Peak? It featured some pretty dramatic special effects; that giant ash cloud was awe inspiring...

Sean Budde said...

Damnation Alley! :o)


Edo Bosnar said...

I would agree with Karen that Andromeda Strain is more of an SF film (and I also agree that it's a good one).
Similarly, Damnation Alley is post-apocalyptic (i.e., the disaster's already over). But I'm glad you mentioned it, Sean. Objectively it's a pretty crappy movie, but for some reason I've always had a soft spot for it. And Zelazny's book on which it was based isn't bad either.

Otherwise, I also agree with Karen (great minds and all that) about Deep Impact. It really had some surprisingly good moments. One of my favorite scenes is when Tea Leoni's character is standing on the roof, and then the camera pans out and you see all of these helicopters flying out of DC. Chilling, yet beautifully rendered...

And guys, mixing up Holly Hunter with Helen Hunt?! For shame. And just to be clear: that's an insult to the lovely and extremely talented Ms. Hunter.

Vintage Bob said...

I'd have to go with Towering Inferno. I always considered it the best and the epitome of the disaster genre. The Day After (if that counts) was pretty intense too, being in my teens at the time and living through the Cold War.

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