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Disaster Movies - Recommendations & Discussion


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My wife and I have a weekly appointment trawling through the collection of awful diaster films by The Asylum and the like. Plenty of comet/earthquake/hurricane/tsunami crap :D

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21 hours ago, Treble said:

Nah, Abrams was just producer and slapped his name all over the marketing. It was directed by (at that time, unknown) Matt Reeves.

 

He went on to direct the new Planet of the Apes sequels, and has the Robert Pattinson-starring The Batman out in the future. 

bah! Now this annoys me when they take a known director and get him to sidle up reaaaaal close to a film to make it look like he directed it. I know the "director as auteur" is getting rarer these days but a lot of my favourite directors still fit that category (they all fill the category of being dead in a lot of cases). So I put stock by a director's name.

 

As it happened I quite liked the new Apes films. Well the first one was good, the other two were diminishing returns and none of them are as good as the following of the originals - Planet of the Apes, Escape and Conquest.

 

So a decent director but I guess The Batman is going to be his full test.

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On 07/02/2021 at 09:59, Clipper said:

And yes I know as fan of disaster films I should have watched Threads at some point! But i grew up in the 80s and always felt it might be a bit too close for comfort watching it :D

 

 

Watched it tonight... fucking hell - just fucking hell.

 

An immense piece of work. Maybe it works better on people of my generation but fucking hell.

 

I need time to process it if I'm honest as it has shaken me a bit

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6 minutes ago, Clipper said:

Watched it tonight... fucking hell - just fucking hell.

 

An immense piece of work. Maybe it works better on people of my generation but fucking hell.

 

I need time to process it if I'm honest as it has shaken me a bit


It’s very effective isn’t it. I think it was about 10-15 years ago when I saw it for the first time and it had the same result. 
 

I keep meaning to track down this as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Game

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I'm not sure I can watch it again but it is an utter masterpiece of filmmaking. Its blending of documentary style with hard edged narrative and character progression is seamless.

 

The gut punch of the actual attack is visceral and I don't mind admitting it brought tears to my eyes. But after that it doesn't use gut punches or obvious emotional pulls and twists...  it just uses the reality and science of the situation to relentlessly bring it home to you and make you fully aware of how insane a nuclear war is and make you realise how we are a razor's edge away from being medieval. No wonder major politicians ran scared from it.

 

 

I would love to get the perspective of someone who did not grow up in that era and see if it is just as affecting. Having grown up in that time you can identify so well with the whole thing and I wonder if someone younger would look at it in a disconnected fashion or whether the dehumanising effect sof the film would still work.

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As mentioned The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno are both classics, it's a shame then Irwin Allen failed to capitalise on them. The Swarm is probably the pinnacle of rubbish disaster, although it is still entertaining if for all the wrong reasons. It tries too hard to incorporate every disaster it can (nuclear power plant at risk, the train bit) but handles everything badly. I read Michael Caine's autobiography recently and he was just as baffled by the disaster potential of bees, however it was paying for his new house in Beverly Hills so he took the job anyway. 

 

The real nadir though was When Time Ran Out. By 1980 the 70s disaster juggernaut was running on fumes. This one tries to combine melodrama and action in a similar way to The Towering Inferno, this time a property magnate has built a resort on an island with a volcano on it. It really is dreadful. I watched the extended cut a while back, bloody hell, most of that extra time was a very, very long and tedious scene with people trying to cross a rickety bridge over some lava. Unlike The Swarm there is very little to make it worth watching. 

 

Others:

 

Meteor (1979) - not a complete success, but some of the disaster bits are well done. Most of the drama is about trying to get world leaders to co-operate to sort out a meteor from hitting the Earth. 

 

 

Terror On The 40th Floor (1974) - you want a cheapo made-for-TV Towering Inferno? You got it. It doesn't have the sheer spectacle of the blockbuster, concentrates on the backstories of the people trapped near the top of a skyscraper. You get the impression the writers wanted to make it as depressing as possible, revelled in it. 

 

 

Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (1983) - this is a bit of alright. Lee Majors is the pilot of a new plane that can get from America to Australia in 45 minutes by going into orbit, but when a certain thing happens the plane is trapped in space. For a TV movie this is not bad at all, a good combination of daring do and drama which doesn't rely too heavily on melodrama. 

 

Re Threads. You really should check out the TV film Special Bulletin from 1983. It takes the form of a rolling news broadcast where some news of terrorists with a nuke is coming in. It starts off boring and normal enough but soon the tension rises. It is played dead straight, as near to a real news broadcast as it probably could be. It was so realistic they had to re-edit it to put captions stating it was fiction. Really impressive restraint for an American TV production and all the more powerful for it. 

 

 

Another small-scale disaster film would be Red Alert (1977). In a way it's similar to Chernobyl in that it's about a cover-up at a nuclear power plant. There's a leak that could go nova, a team is sent in to investigate, but they're up against management who think they know better. It gets really tense. For a TV movie it is very good. Used to be on Youtube but seems to have been taken off. 

 

 

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More! (I do like my disaster films)

 

Terror On The Coastliner (1979) - Oh my god! A disgruntled train driver has set his train on a collision course with another train that just so happens to have the First Lady on board. And the other has William Shatner on board. Worth watching for Lloyd Bridges who chews that scenery for all it's worth as the Secret Service bloke, plus a genuinely spectacular ending. 

 

Atomic Train (1999) - more train-based disaster, this time a runaway train is threatening a small town, but wait, this one has a nuke on board! It's down to Rob Lowe to jump into action. Strap in for nearly 3 hours of action and drama, okay there's some mawkish melodrama here and there, that's par for the course on this sort of TV movie, but this really delivers the excitement.

 

 

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So the OP mentioned Contagion, how about more TV movie goodness (debateable) with a pandemic flavour?

 

Virus aka Formula For Death (1995) - This is essentially the TV version of Outbreak, it's based on the same novel. Nowhere near as exciting, still worth a watch though. 

 

 

Killer On Board (1977) - A stowaway on a cruise ship is ill, the sickness begins to spread, but as passengers die there's a cover-up going on. It's not amazing but worth a watch especially right now. More a conspiracy/corporate cover-up sort of disaster movie. IMDB has this as 1977, I'm going with that. 

 

 

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What’s this one I have a vague recollection of from seeing as a child?

 

I remember it was a seismic based disaster, setting off volcanoes. For some reason, if this chain of volcanoes goes full circle, it means the world ends. 
 

Spoiler

Near the end they try to disrupt the chain with a nuke, but fail. They do not save the planet. 

I could have some of that wrong, but that’s how I remember it. 

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Has anyone mentioned Daylight yet? Watched that a couple of years back and it's still really good. 

 

Comedy disaster, you could try The Big Bus (1976) where a nuclear-powered bus gets into trouble thanks to nefarious people. It's not quite on the Airplane level of funny, feels like it's trying a bit too hard at times, but there are a few alright gags. 

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2 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

 

Another ‘80s nuclear war film. More military themed than most of the others, from a purely American perspective, and has some that TV movie cheese about it.

Need to watch that one.

 

This film came up as a related video - Without Warning (1994). Another asteroid-themed TV movie. Not watched it but I think I can see a double bill coming up this weekend.

 

 

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22 hours ago, Clipper said:

Watched it tonight... fucking hell - just fucking hell.

 

An immense piece of work. Maybe it works better on people of my generation but fucking hell.

 

I need time to process it if I'm honest as it has shaken me a bit


I’m about an hour and a bit in and I think I’ll have to leave it there as I’m already doing to have nightmares.

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6 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

 

Another ‘80s nuclear war film. More military themed than most of the others, from a purely American perspective, and has some that TV movie cheese about it.

 

 

This has been bugging me for years!  Remember seeing this as a kid back in the 90s and couldn't remember the name of the film!

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On 08/02/2021 at 05:14, Indy @ S.E. said:

The Knowing is pretty good, really liked that one.

Apologies, but I have to say that The Knowing should be avoided. It is utter utter garbage, with an awful script, poor acting (Nic Cage is watchable but that's about it), terrible yet oddly graphic CGI in the various disaster sequences, and the denouement when it came was hilariously bad. I felt stupider for having watched it.

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Ahh that’s a shame but cool, individual opinions and all that.

 

I’ll say it does lose it a bit towards the end but thought it had quite a different and decent story up till then.

 

Do alien invasion films count as disaster movies? If so I’d like to nominate Skyline as the biggest pile of pish ever put on screen and one to definitely avoid.

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Is it still a disaster movie if the disaster is adverted? The Core is an utterly dreadful early 2000's action flick about a team of scientists driving a laser train into the centre of the Earth on a mission to prevent global doom. It doesn't bear mention in a thread asking for recommendations, but it does feature one of the most gloriously cheesy "movie hacker" scenes of all time and for that reason alone I kind of love it:

 

Spoiler

 

 

 

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Stanley Tucci really elevates The Core into something rather good. It's one of those films that, if I catch it part way through on TV, I'll just continue to watch it. Some good supporting characters too.

 

I think it definitely counts in the disaster movie genre. Anything with scenes of city destruction would count for me.

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