“Flirtin’ with disaster, y’all damn sure know what I mean,”
– Molly Hatchet, “Flirtin’ With Disaster”
When comprising this list, I discovered something fascinating – the disaster film can be either its own movie genre (i.e. natural disaster), or a subset of other movie genres. The latter includes: sci-fi disaster, man-made disaster, historical disaster, horror disaster, animal disaster, or even the rare comedy disaster (usually a spoof of one or more of all of these genres). The intention was to be exclusively of the former category, but personally, I found more quality entries in the latter.
The problem with most disaster films is that the story and characters are a far distant second to special effects (SFX) and CGI. Moviegoers want and expect to see eye candy first and foremost. That is why so many of them have such poor reviews. My mantra to reviews (first it was just anime, but it also extends to live-action Hollywood films) has always been, “It’s the characters, stupid.” If I don’t like or care about the characters on-screen, then I’m going to root for the volcano/earthquake/meteor/iceberg/aliens/mutants/etc..
There have been two “Golden Eras” of disaster films, or at least times in which there were a plethora of disaster films released in such a small period. The first was the early 70’s; the second was the late 90’s. Keith focused primarily on the latter. My first draft focused on the primary, until I had to broaden my scope to the sub-genres.
“History shows again and again
How nature points up the folly of men.”
– Blue Oyster Cult, “Godzilla”
So grab your popcorn, (assuming that you haven’t made a catastrophic fire popping the kernels), and dig in. It’s time to start the show.
The Top Ten Disaster Films
- 10. The Happening (2006)
- 9. Twister (1996)
- 8. Towering Inferno (1974)
- 7. Volcano (1997)
- 6. Titanic (1997)
- 5. Earthquake (1974)
- 4. The Core (2003)
- 3. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
- 2. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
- 1. Armageddon (1998)
Honorable Mentions: Backdraft (1991); Dante’s Peak (1997); Deep Impact (1998); The Perfect Storm (2000); San Andreas (2015).
- 10. Airport (1970)
- 9. The Mist (2007)
- 8. Hard Rain (1998)
- 7. The Perfect Storm (2000)
- 6. Alive (1993)
- 5. Towering Inferno (1974)
- 4. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
- 3. Snowpiercer (2014)
- 2. Gravity (2013)
- 1. Apollo 13 (1995)
Honorable mentions: Zero Hour! (1957); The Andromeda Strain (1971); The China Syndrome (1979); Airplane! (1980); Backdraft (1991); Cloverfield (2008). And anything starring, or directed by Madonna. 😉
For more details regarding our top ten choices, check out our sister blog here.
Next Podcast Unlimited List: Top Ten Films Starring or Featuring Aliens.