Aptly echoing the malaise of the ’70s, the Disaster Movie cycle offered mass jeopardy as morbid spectacle, with A and B-list stars and superstars holding on for dear life as natural and man-made catastrophes threatened annihilation. The prime mover in this special-effects-plus-human-interest format was producer (and 2nd unit director) Irwin Allen who inaugurated the genre in 1972 with The Poseidon Adventure and sounded its death knell with the fittingly-titled When Time Ran Out in 1980. There were notable precursors to the trend such as the 1933 Deluge and the 1958 Titanic film A Night to Remember, and even films like Jaws and its When Animals Attack offspring seemed loosely related to the sense of social and physical disintegration that are the cycle’s bread and butter. Latterly, the action shifted towards intentional threats and terrorism aimed at all-American forms of recreation (amusement parks, football), but the visions of panic and pandemonium on a grand scale remained key. And of course, for a genre often on the brink of self-parody, the coup de grace was delivered by Airplane!, which unapologetically rounds out this thrill-a-minute survey.

Past Screenings