Top 10 Disaster Films Of All Time


Mar 28, 2002
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Official, as voted by 500 staff of UCI Cinema, ahead of the release in Britain of The Day After Tomorrow.

1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) - I agree
2. Titanic (1997) (voted worst film ever by viewers of BBC1's Film 2003)
3. The Towering Inferno (1974) - not bad
4. Airport (1970) - hmmmmm......
5. The Abyss (1989) - is it a disaster movie?
6. Independence Day (1996) - hated it with a passion
7. Earthquake (1974) - love this film
8. Hindenburg (1975) - hmmmmm.....
9. A Night To Remember (1958) - love this one too
10. Twister (1996) - not bad

Cheers,

Boz
 
Jul 12, 2003
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If anyone has seen the trailers...I would soon add the new film "The Day After Tomorrow" to the disaster film list.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Wot ? No " When World's Collide " - surely THE ultimate disaster movie ? or " The Day the Earth Caught Fire " ( quick, put it oot !!! ) ?

I agree with the idea of the stereotypes in 1970s disaster movies - and don't forget all those resurrected old Hollywood stars from yesteryear who would regularly book onto a jumbo jet/ocean liner/blimp just before it got hit by a rogue missile, or caught fire or - my all time favourite - hit an oil rig ( Airport 78 if anyone cares ). I cannot even remember HOW an airliner came to fly so low that it managed to skelp a rig but even as a twelve year old kid I thought - man, this is sooo stupid..

Thus we get to see what Myrna Loy, Ava Gardner or Bette Davis looked like in their declining years.

And of course, who could forget Big Ol' George Kennedy in all those movies...

" Hello folks, my name is Joe Patroni and I'll be your captain for this flight..."

" Well, honey, looks like we better bend over and kiss our bums goodbye "

Mind you, I don't think I'd be terribly happy to discover Ol' Dino Martin was steering my plane either.
"Ladieshangennulmenpleashfashtenyersheatbeltsandextinguishall...um...stuff <hic>"

Whats' truly frightening, though, is how many of those films bear the words " An Irwin Allen Production " in their titles - a distinction they share with "Lost In Space " and " Voyage to The Bottom of the Brain" - is he an unacknowledged genius then ?
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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quote:

6. Independence Day (1996) - hated it with a passion
But Boz! It had the best mangling of a brilliant poem to make a loopy inspirational/motivational speech ever! When the President declared 'We will not go gently into the night!' (not 'that good night', no...just 'night'), and announced that 4 July was now a World Wide event, we started whooping 'USA! USA!'

Although we did scratch our heads over how poor old Sydney wound up a second tier city - they wiped the world's major capitols and cities, then - in the thrawted second wave - went after remote tribesmen, mujahadeen...and Sydney!

Perhaps they took out Canberra first?

I was surprised and rather chuffed to see that ANTR made it to the list. Surely, though, Independence Day belongs to the alien invasion genre? There's overlap, but I tend to think of the disasters as either natural or big human error in origin - war movies and alien invasion movies are a bit different. And if we have The Abyss, well, I see no reason why we can't designate Jaws a disaster flick.​
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Inger,

You picked the scene that made the whole film an agony to watch. My mind starts to crumble just thinking about it. It makes my teeth itch.

Now if they wanted to portray solidarity / national pride / inspiration / propaganda I don't think they could do any better than Mrs Miniver or Went The Day Well?. Normal English folk thrown into extraordinary circumstances by an invasion. Saying that, though, I did quite enjoy "V".

Dave,

You forgot Helen Hayes. I think she has always been a dotty (but cunningly sharp) old woman in everything (Herbie, Airport something or other and that film about the Entebbe hostages with Yaphet Kotto as Idi Amin). And who can forget Karen Black gaping open-mouthed in the cockpit of the 747 as it heads straight for a mountain in Airport 77? Pull up, you silly mare! That Concorde film was a lot of naff. The Cassandra Crossing gave me nightmares as a kid and that scene where the woman is holding the baby and suddenly the compartment snaps in half as it goes over the bridge "gets me every time".

I loved The Day The Earth Caught Fire and The Medusa Touch wasn't that bad. I caught a trailer for a film showing on Channel 5 (?) here called Earthquake 10.5 showing on Saturday night. From what I saw apparently a series of huge earthquakes strike the West coast of the United States, with such things as the Golden Gate Bridge and Seattle Space Needle falling to bits. Great. I'm going to both in a couple of weeks. That should put my mind at rest.

Cheers,

Boz
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Re the Karen Black 'gaping' scene. She had one eye slightly off-centre, and it made mine weep in sympathy, watching it in close-up on a huge screen. The people I was with told me to pull myself together, it was only a silly movie etc. But I do have to say, I don't think Mrs. Miniver showed 'normal' English people at all. And speaking of 'war', have you had your leaflet from the Government yet, telling you to stockpile three days' supply of baked beans and tuna, and to ring NHS Direct if you think you have been exposed to chemical weapons? I read in the papers it was to arrive in the post this week. Very reminiscent of 'Protect & Survive', years ago, which advised hiding under the stairs as a defence from nuclear attack...
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Mrs Miniver? Not normal English people? You mean you don't have a cottage on the south coast and attend flower shows and the station master doesn't wave you off every time you toddle off to London to pick up some new clobber for the village dance? I thought that was normal.

As for beans and tuna as part of a survival kit. Gimme some jammy dodgers and a barbecue Pringle sandwich any day. With mayonnaise. Do you remember that film that came out about the same time as The Day After - I forget what it was called but it was about Sheffield under nuclear attack.

One of my favourite scenes in The Poseidon Adventure has to be the demise of the Christmas tree. Was it Quantum Leap that featured the shot of the bloke falling through the glass ceiling of the Poseidon and Sam was the stuntman who did the fall?
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Boz,
re Miniver - humblest apologies. My irony alert obviously not quite functional today. I think it may be the first casualty of the keenly anticipated Govt. 'Surviving a Terrorist Attack' booklet...
 

Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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quote:

"And speaking of 'war', have you had your leaflet from the Government yet, telling you to stockpile three days' supply of baked beans and tuna..."
Oh dear. If survival meant spending any sort of time huddled under the stairs with my family eating nothing but beans and tuna, then I think I'd rather risk death in the open air.
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Feb 14, 2011
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I loved "The Poseidon Adventure"..

"A Night To Remember" was also superb...

And Jim may think me mad, but I really enjoyed 'The Last Voyage".
 

Bob Godfrey

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I never miss The Last Voyage when it's on TV (usually a weekend afternoon). No honours for screenplay or acting, but when were those qualities ever high on the agenda for a disaster movie? The Producers couldn't afford special effects, so they had to make do with shooting the film on a real liner really sinking, and that's what makes this one something special. There are those who still think the stately Ile de France deserved a more respectful end to its distinguished career, but when you gotta go you gotta go.
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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I'll throw a hokey, campy picture in that I love to watch just for the pure outlandishness of it all.

The Goliath Awaits

Now THERE is one to watch... LOL!
 

Paul Rogers

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Slightly off-topic, but I wonder if anyone remembers a late 1970's (I think) UK TV series called Survivor? I remember being glued to it as a kid. As I recall, the series revolved around 99% of the world's population dying from a worldwide plague and the struggles of the survivors. A bit like Stephen King's The Stand but without the Good vs. Evil element.

I loved The Goliath Awaits!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Yes, Paul, I remember Survivors. Good stuff. Not the all-action formula of a Hollywood disaster movie, but instead a well considered study of a 'what-if' scenario and how individuals and groups might adapt to it. If I remember right, it did go on a bit too long and eventually became more like a soap opera full of miserable characters. Maybe that's where the idea for Eastenders came from!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Monica: No, those are your memories of the Blitz!
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Actually, I think one of the groups of survivors ended up making use of an old (surface) railway line with steam locomotives.
 

Paul Rogers

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Hi Monica and Bob. Sadly, I can barely remember anything about Survivors except the opening titles, which showed a scientist dropping and breaking a test tube in a laboratory. The infected scientist then got on to a plane. Those he infected then got on to other planes, and thus the plague began to spread. It was, I remember, an extremely eerie sequence with a memorable score. It certainly must have made an impact for me to remember it after all these years!

Hi Charlotte. Personally, I can't wait to see Harry Potter on Tuesday. I'm hoping it won't be a "disaster" movie, 'cos Prisoner is my favourite book in the series to date. I shall be most upset if the film messes up the plot (as per Raise the Titanic.) And how's about that for getting back to the thread topic!
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Dec 8, 2000
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Goodness, On the Beach didn't make it onto the list. Mind you, apart from a few notable exceptions it seems to be a list of 'disastrous' rather than 'disaster' films. ;)

quote:

Do you remember that film that came out about the same time as The Day After - I forget what it was called but it was about Sheffield under nuclear attack.
Iain, I also forget what it was called but do remember finding it riveting. The grim view of how people survived, including a return to a mediaevel, agrarian economy was a welcome counter to the rosy view in other films where society remains largely intact after a few sad moments where particular cities are destroyed. I've only seen it once, but wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Count me as another who enjoyed The Cassandra Crossing: it was one of my favourite films when I was a kid. (As an adult it made me wince in parts.) As a bio-hazard movie I think it stands well against some of the more recent efforts.

Back to the list, I think it interesting that two Titanic films made it onto that list. I also question inclusion of The Abyss, and even Independence Day. Whoever compiled it was obviously using a fairly broad definition of 'disaster'.​
 

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