AFTERSHOCK: A Gallery of Disaster Films!

Check your preparedness at the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness, FEMA and the Center for Disease control and grab your go bags, because Aftershock premieres tonight at Midnight Madness.

Aftershock‘s the latest in a long tradition of disaster movies, and now might be a good time to reflect on the challenges we have faced in the past, whether burning skyscraper, capsized ship, avalanche or earthquake.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) set the tone for 1970s disaster movies: huge all-star casts playing horrible people who you can’t wait to be overcome by disaster.  But Shelley Winters makes the movie for me.

All the actors in the world at the time.

Earthquake (1974) was a huge movie in every possible way. Not only did it have a cast that made the earth itself groan, it was shot in 70mm and Sensurround, the better to feel the tectonic power of Charleton Heston’s Acting! But there is something even more powerful, there is the might of Walter Matthau and Richard Roundtree’s costumes meeting.

Red pimp-hatted Walter Matthau should be raising his glass in the corner.


The Towering Inferno (1974) is the story of a skyscraper on fire and Charleton Heston’s efforts to extinguish it by roaring. Wait, no, it has another huge cast of cool actors discussing with great urgency how to save 294 people from a burning skyscraper, starting with: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway and Roberth Vaughn. How Irwin Allen got them all together, I’ll never know, but I’m glad he did.

Fire Chief Steve McQueen + Architect Paul Newman will save us all!

Avanlanche (1978) does not paint a pretty picture of ski lodges. It is not a cozy and cute depiction. It is in no way Thomas Kincaid. And it has one of the longest waits for the annoying characters to get buried under snow and ice. But the avalanche footage is awesome in several ways, veering from awe-inspiring footage to charming chunks of styrofoam courtesy of budget-conscious producer Roger Corman. And how often do you see a movie where Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow are the leads?

Cast does the work of a much larger cast of hateful characters!

In Night of the Comet (1984), said comet turns everyone who sees it either into a pile of red dust or a zombie. Fortunately, two teenage girls are too busy with pursuits of the 80s, playing arcade games, having sex with a projectionist and  sassy Valley girl talk for cosmic event. They might be the last people on earth, which is better than Charleton Heston in the Omega Man, but maybe about even with Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth, ’cause he’s Vincent Price.

A totally rad movie.

Armaggeddon (1998) is a waiting for a catastrophe film. It is the Waiting for Godot of disaster cinema, with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck being the proactive Vladimir and Estragon who go in search of Asteroid Godot and the action and explosions standing in for the wordplay. Steve Buscemi plays both the absurdity of existence and the absurdity of this film.

For Michael Bay!

The Happening (2008) Oh, M. Night Shyamalan. Trees? The Happening makes me feel like a sad tree is growing in my heart.


2012 (2009) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004) are not the same movie, but they are kind of the same movie to me. And together they feel a lot like The Day After Tomorrow’s author Art Bell’s radio show where Art Bell discusses the end of human life on earth with an expert on Mayan prophecy.

 “Damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

Hopefully, this gallery and tonight’s screening of Aftershock will both encourage you to create your own Emergency Preparedness Kit and make sure you pack a hat like Walter Matthau’s in Earthquake.

AFTERSHOCK screening times:
Tue., Sept. 11th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 6:15 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 3
Sun., Sept. 16th, 3:30 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 9


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