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Disaster Porn Saturday Night: After the Shock

A time stamp following the earthquake in the Marina District of San Francisco

A time stamp following the earthquake in the Marina District of San Francisco

The third game in the World Series was just four minutes into broadcasting, when the "Bay Bridge Series" and sportscaster Al Michaels announced, "I'll tell you what, we're having an earth..."

After that announcement, pre-empted programming Roseanne and The Wonder Years were shown (they were on hold in case of a rain delay) and outside of San Francisco, no one knew just how bad the Loma Prieta was.

Eventually, we all found out just how destructive this quake was and a year later, After the Shock showed us even more.

Following the quake, a group of survivors begin their own rescue efforts, most notably those who lived near the Cypress Street Viaduct/Nimitz Freeway.

Here, William McElroy (Yaphet Kotto) organizes people to check on those who have been trapped in the collapse of the freeway. They had only became aware of it when two motorists called from the upper level and reported back that it had collapsed.

After being told to leave the collapsed lower level of the freeway, Jack Thompson (Jack Scalia) finds real life victim Nicholas Zaninovich trapped in his car. He tells Zaninovich that he won't leave him and while conditions are not good in trying to get him out, he helps rescue personnel and they manage to do so about four hours following the quake. In fact, Zaninovich even wears the clothes that he wore on that day.

Patrick Wallace (Richard Anthony Crenna) also has a need to climb up to the lower level of the freeway and finds Cathy (Edith Parra) and her unconscious brother in the backseat of their flattened car. Their parents were killed and Patrick tries to keep Cathy calm while waiting for a rescue team.

Once help arrives, he's forced to leave the scene but stays around until the children are saved. With the help of a doctor (John Putch) Patrick is relieved that both children will be alright, although the boy is still unconscious but stable.

Remarkably the most dramatic story is that of Sherra Cox (Rue McClanahan). This story doesn't come until near the end of the movie, but Cox was trapped in her Marina District apartment and was rescued by Gerry Shannon (Scott Valentine).

What she doesn't know is that while Shannon is rescuing her, there's fire all around the building and the rescue takes longer than he hopes due to collapsed beams, water, fire and having to change chainsaws. All the while this is going on, he keeps a cool head and lies to Cox about the fire not being close to them.

Once he's back on solid ground, McElroy is told by the police to leave the area due to the destruction.

Calmly, he tells the officer that he and the others have been on the freeway helping trapped motorists, yet the officer still wants him gone.

As a true story (although some parts were changed) writer, director, producer Gary Sherman does an excellent job intersplicing actual footage into the movie. The only problem with the movie is there are too many characters to follow.

A huge advantage to the story would have been to obtain footage of the reporters. There's a ton of coverage online and even these hour clips make it seem like another movie with hardly any damage and people going about their next to normal daily routines.

The movie is thoroughly enjoyable and suspenseful as well.


Comments

Eric Tuchelske (author) from Detroit on September 11, 2021:

Thank you and thanks for reading!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 10, 2021:

Good review.

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