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05.29.2015by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Most Epic Disaster Movies Of All Time

SAN ANDREAS is poised to devastate the box office this weekend which means it is time to think back on the best disaster movies of all time. Whether they be natural, supernatural, or otherwise, SAN ANDREAS could join the esteemed company of these ten movies. Keep in mind we are not saying these are the best movies but just the most epic. If your favorite didn't make the cut, feel free to add it to the talk backs below.

#10 - ALIVE

Not a global catastrophe but a shocking plane crash that forces a group of survivors to weigh whether the moral price of cannibalism is worth the struggle to stay alive. A disturbingly powerful film, ALIVE will also make the thought of flying over mountains all the much more disturbing than any global disaster movie could.

#9 - CONTAGION

Steven Soderbergh's viral outbreak thriller is no 28 DAYS LATER or WORLD WAR Z, but it does make the concept of an apocalyptic disease spreading around the world more frightening than any zombie movie could. I guarantee you will think twice about going to China or eating pork after seeing this movie.

#8 - TWISTER

Jan De Bont's tornado blockbuster does for funnel clouds what JAWS did for sharks. Stunning special effects are the closest most people will ever get to an actual tornado and it is handled brilliantly. TWISTER's effects still hold up two decades later making this one hell of a ride.

#7 - INDEPENDENCE DAY

I tried very hard to keep alien invasion movies off of this list, but INDEPENDENCE DAY just nails the global destruction. The iconic shot of the White House being destroyed may be one of the most shocking and perfect Hollywood images in movie history.

#6 - TITANIC

While I dislike James Cameron's overly melodramatic TITANIC, I cannot argue with the sheer magnitude of how well executed the ship sinking sequence is executed. Cameron is a visual artist who manages to make you feel as if you were there as the terrible tragedy unfolded. 3D or not, TITANIC is a visual marvel.

#5 - THE TOWERING INFERNO

Disaster epics used to be very common in Hollywood and very few were as good as THE TOWERING INFERNO. The film was star-studded, featuring William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, O. J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Susan Flannery, Gregory Sierra, and Dabney Coleman. Most movies these days cannot match a cast like that and I doubt many would tackle the subject matter in a post-9/11 world.

#4 - 2012

Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic movie is pretty stupid, but it is visually stunning. Don't expect there to be much logic in this movie but you cannot argue with just how damn impressive it is to see how the world could have ended if anyone knew how the Mayan calendar actually worked.

#3 - EARTHQUAKE

One of the more pulpy disaster movies, and clearly a template for SAN ANDREAS, EARTHQUAKE was epic enough to garner it a ride at Universal Studios which should speak to it's longevity. The level of destruction in this movie is just scary enough to keep you away from fault lines without going into destruction porn mode.

#2 - DEEP IMPACT

While ARMAGEDDON may be the more memorable summer disaster movie from 1998, DEEP IMPACT is the better movie. Taking a more dramatic approach to the end of the world devastation, Mimi Leder's film is more depressing and "realistic" in portraying how humanity would cope with the inevitable.

#1 - THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

Balancing that fine line between disaster porn and spectacle, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW carries a pretty blatant ecological plotline. Even with the less than stellar screenwriting, this movie manages to destroy the Earth while leaving hope for saving it.

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+1
11:47AM on 06/01/2015
What about Poseidon Adventure, The Impossible, Armageddon, The War of the Worlds?
These films did not make the list, but Deep Impact did? I know this is someone else's opinion, but I'm shocked that someone out there would actually label Deep Impact as one of the best disaster films of all time. It was an epic snooze. It made the cover of both Snooze Week and Yawn Magazine.
Also, Titanic should be much higher on this list than #6.
What about Poseidon Adventure, The Impossible, Armageddon, The War of the Worlds?
These films did not make the list, but Deep Impact did? I know this is someone else's opinion, but I'm shocked that someone out there would actually label Deep Impact as one of the best disaster films of all time. It was an epic snooze. It made the cover of both Snooze Week and Yawn Magazine.
Also, Titanic should be much higher on this list than #6.
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+1
11:31AM on 06/01/2015
This is one of the best disaster films of the last decade. The visuals are spectacular and the casting of John Cusack as the protagonist was a great decision!
This is one of the best disaster films of the last decade. The visuals are spectacular and the casting of John Cusack as the protagonist was a great decision!
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+0
11:29AM on 06/01/2015

This should be in the top #3, easily!

"While I dislike James Cameron's overly melodramatic TITANIC"
How can you dislike this film? 18 years later and the film still holds up greatly!
"While I dislike James Cameron's overly melodramatic TITANIC"
How can you dislike this film? 18 years later and the film still holds up greatly!
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4:45AM on 05/30/2015
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9:09PM on 05/29/2015

The Poseidon Adventure should be at no.1

I cannot believe you left THAT out! Not to mention skipping Armageddon (which still holds as a pure popcorn fun disaster movie) instead the piece of shit 2012. The Day After Tomorrow was good as a disaster movie (that tidal wave sequence still gives me chills) but definitely not no.1 material, hell even going with the listed movies Titanic or Towering Inferno should be no.1, both of those movies realistically presented the human element really well, which many of today's disaster movies forget
I cannot believe you left THAT out! Not to mention skipping Armageddon (which still holds as a pure popcorn fun disaster movie) instead the piece of shit 2012. The Day After Tomorrow was good as a disaster movie (that tidal wave sequence still gives me chills) but definitely not no.1 material, hell even going with the listed movies Titanic or Towering Inferno should be no.1, both of those movies realistically presented the human element really well, which many of today's disaster movies forget or dowright ignore.
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8:59PM on 05/29/2015

Even after naming all those superstars, you still missed listing arguably the BIGGEST two stars of the movie...

Steve McQueen and Paul frekkin' Newman.
Steve McQueen and Paul frekkin' Newman.
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4:41PM on 05/30/2015
haha I was thinking that. Im like STEVE FKIN MCQUEEN IS RIGHT THERE!!
haha I was thinking that. Im like STEVE FKIN MCQUEEN IS RIGHT THERE!!
5:30PM on 05/29/2015
um where's The Posiden Adventure?
um where's The Posiden Adventure?
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4:58PM on 05/29/2015
I already liked this movie in all it's cheesy glory but until you've been awakened in the dead of night by tornado sirens, you'll never know the real fear associated with a tornado. I hear those sirens and I'm thinking either a tornado or Silent Hill is happening. Either one is bad news.
I already liked this movie in all it's cheesy glory but until you've been awakened in the dead of night by tornado sirens, you'll never know the real fear associated with a tornado. I hear those sirens and I'm thinking either a tornado or Silent Hill is happening. Either one is bad news.
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4:55PM on 05/29/2015
Right at Your Door was pretty good. Not a lot of explosions or special effects but it puts you with the characters in that your learning what the fuck is going on as they do.
Right at Your Door was pretty good. Not a lot of explosions or special effects but it puts you with the characters in that your learning what the fuck is going on as they do.
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1:40PM on 05/30/2015
Hell yeah this movie owns. Such an awesome fucked up ending. And also the divide should be on here too, or THE DAY AFTER, that movie really shook me to the bone. Or even These Final Hours.
Hell yeah this movie owns. Such an awesome fucked up ending. And also the divide should be on here too, or THE DAY AFTER, that movie really shook me to the bone. Or even These Final Hours.
11:48AM on 05/29/2015

Where is the Day After?

I would really put the Day After in the top 10. That movie can scare the the living daylights out of anyone when it comes to atomic war. It's probably more realistic and has a better plot than some of the movies on this list. It wasn't a Hollywood blockbuster but a made for TV movie at a time people were terrified of the cold war and the fear of atomic war was still in existence more than today.
I would really put the Day After in the top 10. That movie can scare the the living daylights out of anyone when it comes to atomic war. It's probably more realistic and has a better plot than some of the movies on this list. It wasn't a Hollywood blockbuster but a made for TV movie at a time people were terrified of the cold war and the fear of atomic war was still in existence more than today.
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1:41PM on 05/30/2015
Hell yea that movie scared the shit out of me. I still can't watch it. The divide, these final hours, and right at your door, need to be here too.
Hell yea that movie scared the shit out of me. I still can't watch it. The divide, these final hours, and right at your door, need to be here too.
11:44AM on 05/29/2015
Terrible movie.
Terrible movie.
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+3
11:11AM on 05/29/2015

Deep Impact is a boring dud of a disaster film!

I know this is someone else's opinion, but I'm shocked that someone out there would actually label Deep Impact as one of the best disaster films of all time. It was an epic snooze. It made the cover of both Snooze Week and Yawn Magazine. I was excited to see Deep Impact on it's opening day, but I found myself making fun of the film most of the time. "A better film than Armageddon"? Really???? Armageddon was highly entertaining, not to mention pretty funny and very rememberable at times, but it
I know this is someone else's opinion, but I'm shocked that someone out there would actually label Deep Impact as one of the best disaster films of all time. It was an epic snooze. It made the cover of both Snooze Week and Yawn Magazine. I was excited to see Deep Impact on it's opening day, but I found myself making fun of the film most of the time. "A better film than Armageddon"? Really???? Armageddon was highly entertaining, not to mention pretty funny and very rememberable at times, but it was also more emotionally impacting than the deepest impact of Deep Impact.
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11:02AM on 05/29/2015
This movie was way too preachy.
This movie was way too preachy.
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11:01AM on 05/29/2015
I still like it.
I still like it.
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11:01AM on 05/29/2015
One of the worst and most bloated movies I've seen next to the Transformers sequels.
One of the worst and most bloated movies I've seen next to the Transformers sequels.
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11:00AM on 05/29/2015
This one is a classic.
This one is a classic.
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10:56AM on 05/29/2015
This is a favorite of mine with a rocking soundtrack.
This is a favorite of mine with a rocking soundtrack.
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10:55AM on 05/29/2015
I liked it for it's down to Earth take.
I liked it for it's down to Earth take.
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