The 1970s may have been the best era of film in terms of quality, as Hollywood found that careful balance between commercial and critical considerations that has been skewed ever since. Much like comic book films now, disaster films in that decade did an insane amount of business before oversaturation killed the genre’s mass appeal. They found their way back into the mainstream every now and again in the past several decades but only recently have they made the transition back into a regular staple of the summer blockbuster season.
The big staples of the 1970s in terms of disaster films have modern equivalents. And a number of the lesser known ones, too, have found their way back into cinemas. And that’s not even throwing in films like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, which focused on worldwide events instead of one singular one affecting a small group of people, or even films like Armageddon which focused on space events (which weren’t practical or cost effective in the 1970s).
The Poseidon Adventure was remade properly into the abbreviated Poseidon. It didn’t do well enough to warrant a sequel, of course, but it was one of the few films of that era that got properly remade. Boat disasters are difficult films to make and generally it’s accepted that the original Poseidon and Titanic are the cream of a very shallow crop. Most films set on the water are war films, not disaster films.
The Cassandra Crossing had an equally forgettable modern equivalent in the Denzel Washington/Chris Pine film Unstoppable. An Under Siege sequel also utilized a train and so have a handful of other films. It’s not quite an action film trope, though, but plenty of action sequences have involved trains over the years (including the big set piece of the first Mission Impossible. It feels old-timey, for lack of a better word, to stage anything using a train these days and as such it’s fairly rare.
One can argue that the closest we have to Airport is Snakes on a Plane, and that’s a bit of a stretch. The looming threat of airplane crashes have become such a part of cinema that even Christian apocalyptic films like Left Behind have had airplane crashes as part of their overall story arc. It’s become an action film staple over the years, the “someone has to land this plane” trope, that a film like Airport feels antiquated now because it’s usually a secondary plot to have something wrong with either an airplane or an airport as a secondary action sequence/plot to be resolved. Hell it was a big part of a Die Hard sequel in the 90s.
Earthquake is getting its own quasi-remake in San Andreas, coming out this weekend with an all-star cast headed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s amusing to think of Johnson playing a helicopter pilot but if Denise Richards can play a scientist than anything’s possible, right? I mean it is amusing that a towering mountain of a man like “The Rock” can play a rescue chopper pilot, which usually isn’t the sort of position for 6’5, 280 pound sized gentlemen on plenty of dat dere Celltech but cinematically it’s better than nothing I suppose.
The biggest, most notable film of that era will most likely never even be reasonably considered for a remake, though.
With this modern revival of the disaster film The Towering Inferno is the only film that won’t get remade, rebooted or even looked at by an American studio. It’s one of the ten or so films that 9/11 permanently put on the “This feels uncomfortable watching” list and is on the same list of films that aren’t being remade, rebooted or even considered for a “new audience” anytime in the near future by an American studio.
It was remade in South Korea under The Tower, though, a couple years ago and has yet to find it way into American hands for any number of reasons.
As much as it looks like an interesting film, mainly as a spectacle, there’s no chance this would fly in the US because 9/11 ruined disaster films involving being trapped in a building. The real life horror immediately made The Towering Inferno a film that was a much more difficult watch than it otherwise should be.
If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This week’s DVD Netflix Viewing – Dawg Fight
Miami, Florida, has a heck of a backyard fighting scene. It’s what birthed Kevin Ferguson, failed football player into internet sensation Kimbo Slice. A handful of professional fighters have gotten their start in the backyards of Miami, which were fueled by sites like YouTube, and the auteur behind Cocaine Cowboys has decided to follow Dada 5000 and his backyard fighting company to walk into that world.
It’s an interesting documentary that got rave reviews on the festival circuit but couldn’t quite find a way to get into theatres, unfortunately, thus it goes to Netflix and DVD. He did the Podcast circuit in LA a short while ago, which is usually where I look to see where the next wave of strong documentaries are going to come from.
Alex Winter’s Deep Web (about The Silk Road) and Chris Bell’s Prescription Thugs (prescription drug use and abuse in the US) are the next two that’ll be worth a view, if that circuit holds up, for those interested.
The film is worth a view because it’s a look at what happens when guys with nothing to lose go for broke in the fight game.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
Aloha – Cameron Crowe returns with a film about a guy and a girl falling in love … but this time it’s in Hawaii!
Skip it – Crowe hasn’t had a good film in a long time and so far this looks like it’ll continue the streak.
San Andreas – California falls into the ocean. The Rock is going to punch it and save the day, apparently.
See it – Disaster films are made for the big screen.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.