For many disaster movie fans, we tend to think that the genre started in the 1970's with either Airport or The Poseidon Adventure, but in this documentary, the genre goes way back. To the beginning of film.
Narrated by Bill Mumy, this is a fascinating look at how disaster movies came to be along with how movies shaped the industry.
The movie going public at the time were enthralled with disaster stories and they were very popular. Everyone seemed to like seeing other people's lives in danger while they watched the events play out on screen.
Thanks to French illusionist George Me'lie's, special effects were created which helped elevate the genre and thrilled moviegoers even more and legendary actors were also doing their own stunts at the time.
One such clip is of Buster Keaton performing his own stunts in the movie Steamboat Bill, Jr. and nearly 100 years later, the scene with the collapsing wall is terrifying to watch. It's definitely a nail biter and the clip also shows the actor during a cyclone.
Soon thereafter, the creation of stuntmen came to be and who would have thought that if had not been for disaster movies, there probably wouldn't even be stuntmen!
People were becoming even more interested in disaster when newsreels would report on disasters and by the late 1930's, disaster movies were at an all time high and came to a crashing halt following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
While disaster movies haven't been nominated for Best Picture (with the exception of Airport and The Towering Inferno) disaster movies seemed to be routinely nominated for Academy Awards, along with actors/actresses. They've been nominated for Best Special Effects, and the category was created in 1939 (1940) for The Rains Came in which the film won.
The film tackles everything from nature's fury to modern technology, but a large chunk of it is devoted to Irwin Allen.
Production Designer William Creber and actor Roddy McDowall (Acres) talk at length about The Poseidon Adventure and Creber also shares some insite on The Towering Inferno. It also delves a little into his television shows.
Although the genre had gained legs throughout the 1970's, it eventually tells us of the downfall of the disaster movie and how Airplane! sealed the disaster coffin so to speak. Based on this parody, the moviegoing public couldn't take disaster movies seriously.
But then came the late '90's and CGI, along with a few blockbuster volcano movies and the occasional made for television disaster (but none of them are talked about).
Since the documentary came out in 2000, it's dated for the movies captured here and the last movie that's mentioned is Titanic and then it's over.
An updated sequel would have been great, but overall, with the information given, this is an interesting documentary and well worth viewing.