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Meteor (1979)

Remember the late-’90s resurgence of that quintessentially ’70s genre known as the disaster film? Although short-lived, audience enthusiasm for it was so strong that in the summer of 1998, two space-rock epics — Deep Impact and Armageddon — competed for cash and both became major hits. But in 1979, Meteor had the space-rock scenario all to […]

SST: Death Flight (1977)

Things are not going well for Cutlass Aircraft Maiden One. The supersonic transport jet’s media circus of an experiment flight from New York to Paris has been sabotaged; a Third World flu virus has been loosed onboard; and, dammit, who the hell let Bert Convy on this plane? Welcome, disaster-flick junkies, to SST: Death Flight, […]

The Night the Bridge Fell Down (1983)

Shot four years before it actually aired, The Night the Bridge Fell Down is easily the least entertaining of producer Irwin Allen’s disaster pics made expressly for the tube. That said, I believe it is the only film — theatrical or televised — in his illustrious career in which a character is shown picking a […]

Fire (1977)

Producer Irwin Allen kept his once-Towering cinematic credibility in flames with Fire, a virtual remake of his previous year’s telepic Flood — just with another basic concept from your high school chemistry class (or a then-rather popular 1970s R&B-funk band). The real-life town of Silverton, Oregon, comes under siege from a massive blaze sparked by the […]

Hanging by a Thread (1979)

You’re a talented metallurgical engineer. (Just go with me here.) You’re blowing the whistle on your bosses for defrauding the federal government and putting troops’ lives at risk. You’re told you’re a dead man for doing so. You’re set to testify against them in mere days. You’re under witness protection. You’ve already survived one attempt […]

Flood (1976)

Audiences barely had dried after embarking on The Poseidon Adventure when producer Irwin Allen decided to let his disaster river run inside America’s living rooms, by way of the made-for-TV Flood. In the small town of Brownsville (located in Anywhere, USA), the sport of fishing attracts quite the tourist population and, thus, pays the bills. […]

Cave In! (1979)

When you take your act from the big screen to the small one, you have to shout to get noticed. That could be why producer Irwin Allen’s made-for-TV movie Cave In! arrived in NBC prime time with an exclamation point intact. At Yellowstone’s Five Mile Caverns, the north fork of the grounds undergoes a smidge […]

City on Fire (1979)

For City on Fire, Canada took The Towering Inferno, knocked it on its side, reduced its running time by an hour, then plucked a few supporting players from The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake and The Swarm. Ta-dah! Instant disaster movie! (Half a decade too late to capitalize on the craze, but still: “A” for effort.) Directed […]

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Nay, they should not. After all, it’s tough to rid your mind of people once you’ve witnessed them plummet to their deaths when a luxury ocean liner goes topsy-turvy. Such a fate befalls the revelers ushering in the New Year aboard a top-heavy ship heading […]

Earthquake (1974)

What Mark Robson built in 1967’s Valley of the Dolls — a quintessential L.A. — he tore down less than a decade later with Earthquake, his penultimate picture as director. Released at the height of Hollywood’s disaster craze, the movie beat The Towering Inferno into theaters by one month, but lost to Irwin Allen’s flame-broiled […]

The Wave (2015)

You know the hoary cinematic chestnut of the retiring cop whose last day proves quite the pickle? The reality-rooted The Wave ups that finality ante with a frickin’ tsunami! Not for nothing did this taut thriller become the year’s biggest deal in its home country of Norway, where the scenario depicted is expected to happen in […]

The Towering Inferno (1974)

The Towering Inferno, by the numbers: • 138 stories, stands San Francisco’s brand-new Glass Tower • 300 partygoers celebrating this massive erection — the world’s largest • $2 million saved by going with electric wiring inferior to the architect’s specifications • one fire caused as a result • and nearly three hours of star-studded cheese […]

Aftershock (2013)

Should you choose to take a wine tour of Chile, pack a football helmet and an autograph book — the former in case of earthquakes; the latter because you just might run into Selena Gomez. That Spring Breakers starlet makes an uncredited cameo in Aftershock, a shaky quake pic more interested in a retching scale […]

The Swarm (1978)

That buzz you hear is The Swarm, disaster mogul Irwin Allen’s speculative epic about killer bees. As far as that subject goes, this one runs a distant second to 1991’s coming-of-age dramedy

Calamity of Snakes (1983)

Keep your expectations low to the ground when slithering your way into Calamity of Snakes. This is, after all, a Hong Kong film whose opening credits include such crew positions as “lighiting” and “propesman.” However, Bruceploitation-vet director and co-writer Chi Chang makes up for any spelling errors with serpents, and lots of ’em. Our hero […]