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02.21.2014by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Natural Disaster Movies (Video Edition)

POMPEII explodes onto screens today and marks the first big natural disaster movie in several years. But, going through movie history there has always been a desire for epic movies featuring huge volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, and widespread devastation. We will also have NOAH to look forward to this year, but there have been quite a few disaster movies of note that don't feature aliens or zombies. Here are our picks for the ten best. If your list differs from ours, mention it in the talk backs below.

HONORABLE MENTION - SHARKNADO

For a movie that could have been a disaster itself, SHARKNADO became something more when it premiered on SyFy last year. The cheese-fest stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid as a couple of people stuck in the middle of a tornado that picks up sharks. Don't get bogged down in the science of the storm but instead enjoy the batshit craziness of it all.

#10 - BLINDNESS

One of my favorite novels of all time was also a criminally underseen movie back in 2008. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, amongst many others in an international cast, director Fernando Meirelles gives us a world when the population suddenly goes blind and the political and social repercussions of it. Moore plays the lone person with sight as society crumbles around her. It is a chilling and disturbing film and a well-made example of plague films that don't need to rely on blood and gore.

#9 - THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

So THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW is not the best movie out there. Heck, it isn't even the best movie director Roland Emmerich has made, but the sheer insanity of the weather in the movie is enough to recommend seeing it. Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal cannot save this screenplay from itself, but they play along with everything from wind to rain to snow and floods. The power of the special effects in the movie are hard to match, so maybe you should check this one out with the mute button on.

#8 - DANTE'S PEAK

DANTE'S PEAK and VOLCANO came out pretty close to each other, and while VOLCANO showing California get destroyed by lava is definitely cool to see, DANTE'S PEAK just feels a little more credible. Both films have their problems plot-wise, but I will take Pierce Brosnan over Tommy Lee Jones any day. Plus, Linda Hamilton.

#7 - ARMAGEDDON

ARMAGEDDON doesn't quite live up to it's epic title, but Michael Bay certainly comes close. It may be hard to call the events of the film "natural" since they defy logic and any scientific proof, but seeing Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and a band of rig workers go to outer space is the very definition of popcorn flick. This is Bay before he got in his own way: huge scale, explosions galore, and cheesy dialogue.

#6 - EARTHQUAKE

The grandaddy of disaster flicks, EARTHQUAKE features an all-star cast led by Charlton Heston and was originally shown in sensurround, which gave the feeling that you were in the earthquake yourself. While those gimmicks don't translate to the home viewing experience, the special effects from the movie still hold up pretty well today. Like the other movies on this list, EARTHQUAKE is not known for award-winning acting, but when buildings are falling down and shit is blowing up, who cares if they deliver the lines with conviction?

#5 - THE PERFECT STORM

Now, here we have a film that combines quality performances with incredible visual effects. Wolfgang Petersen's movie combines the thrills of a big budget disaster film with an incredible true story. Hard to watch, THE PERFECT STORM is a movie that everyone should experience at least once. Like last year's GRAVITY, the feeling of being in the middle of the crushing waves is hard to shake. But, the story will stick with you long after you finish watching it.

#4 - TWISTER

Jan De Bont, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Crichton all had a hand in TWISTER and it shows. The second highest grossing film of 1996 is a thrill-ride of a movie and one based in science fact. I think I learned everything I knew about tornadoes from TWISTER rather than any science classes I have taken. Bill Paxton is great in the lead (give this guy more leads!) and Helen Hunt actually looked kind of hot in that dirty white tank top. Also, yet another reminder of Philip Seymour Hoffman's greatness, even in small supporting roles.

#3 - THE IMPOSSIBLE

The terrible events of the 2004 tsunami were dramatized in this heartbreaking film starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. The sheer power of the horrible storm is brought to stark life in J.A. Bayona's film while also showing the struggle for the survivors to reunite and mourn those who were not so lucky. Watts received an Oscar nomination for this movie, but McGregor's performance is equally stunning. Sometimes it is easier to watch a movie about a fictional disaster rather than a true account, but even revisiting events from eight years prior to the film's release, THE IMPOSSIBLE is a testament to an awful event from recent history.

#2 - DEEP IMPACT

While ARMAGEDDON may have delivered the action, DEEP IMPACT delivers the realism. There aren't many happy things to take away from this movie as it ventures to show you what the build-up to a comet impact could do to the citizens of our planet. While the team is able to stop the bigger danger, DEEP IMPACT shocked audiences by actually showing a good portion of the world get obliterated by a megatsunami. In the end, DEEP IMPACT is one of the better disaster films ever made, boosted by Morgan Freeman's performance as the President.

#1 - OUTBREAK

In recent years, the good old medical thriller has been replaced by zombie movies. Wolfgang Petersen's thriller is the ultimate "what if" movie that made millions of people paranoid about not only touching monkeys but about the potential spread of a deadly disease. Anchored by a great cast including Kevin Spacey, Rene Russo, Donald Sutherland, Morgan Freeman, and Dustin Hoffman, OUTBREAK remains to this day one of the most frightening movies about disease ever made. What makes it so scary is that it feels as if it could really happen. That is scarier than any zombie.

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12:08PM on 02/21/2014

Whaaaaaaat?? No 2012??

Ok, its a turd, but destruction-wise, its one of the most spectacular disaster movies ever...
Ok, its a turd, but destruction-wise, its one of the most spectacular disaster movies ever...
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11:12AM on 02/21/2014
That's a pretty swell list. Let me give a shout-out to a couple of great Korean disaster-type flicks from the past couple years:
The Tower, which certainly echoes the classic The Towering Inferno but does its own thing very well and not without some humor;
and Deranged, a somewhat smaller-scale outbreak movie about parasites that has some extremely tense moments.
That's a pretty swell list. Let me give a shout-out to a couple of great Korean disaster-type flicks from the past couple years:
The Tower, which certainly echoes the classic The Towering Inferno but does its own thing very well and not without some humor;
and Deranged, a somewhat smaller-scale outbreak movie about parasites that has some extremely tense moments.
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10:08AM on 02/21/2014
My favorite disaster movie of all time is The Towering Inferno even though it's a man made disaster. If Outbreak is on the list, Contagion should be here too. I got goosebumps the entire movie because of how creepy it hits home.
My favorite disaster movie of all time is The Towering Inferno even though it's a man made disaster. If Outbreak is on the list, Contagion should be here too. I got goosebumps the entire movie because of how creepy it hits home.
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10:05AM on 02/21/2014
That scene when Tsunami strikes is gut-wrenching.
That scene when Tsunami strikes is gut-wrenching.
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10:04AM on 02/21/2014
I always love the scene where Jo's truck got stuck in the trench and has no way out and the big tornado is chasing after her.
I always love the scene where Jo's truck got stuck in the trench and has no way out and the big tornado is chasing after her.
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9:55AM on 02/21/2014
Nice to see this on here since Gloucester is my hometown.
Nice to see this on here since Gloucester is my hometown.
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+2
8:16AM on 02/21/2014
No Poseidon Adventure (original)??
No Poseidon Adventure (original)??
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7:37AM on 02/21/2014
In the immortal words (well, word) of Dennis Hopper, "monkey!" If virus outbreaks are counted in addition to the likes of volcanoes and earthquakes then Contagion does deserve a spot on the list.
In the immortal words (well, word) of Dennis Hopper, "monkey!" If virus outbreaks are counted in addition to the likes of volcanoes and earthquakes then Contagion does deserve a spot on the list.
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7:35AM on 02/21/2014
Love this one. It's a shame Mimi Leder's career didn't fully take off because I really like this and The Peacemaker.
Love this one. It's a shame Mimi Leder's career didn't fully take off because I really like this and The Peacemaker.
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7:34AM on 02/21/2014
This is a really powerful film and J. A. Bayona did an incredible job of making it feel frightening and visceral. It does have that "survivor effect", where the focus of the movie is so squarely on people who (spoilers) made it out alive that it might be easy to forget the thousands who didn't, but it's still well-made and well-acted.
This is a really powerful film and J. A. Bayona did an incredible job of making it feel frightening and visceral. It does have that "survivor effect", where the focus of the movie is so squarely on people who (spoilers) made it out alive that it might be easy to forget the thousands who didn't, but it's still well-made and well-acted.
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7:32AM on 02/21/2014
STEAK AND EGGS!
STEAK AND EGGS!
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10:02AM on 02/21/2014
Did you see my cow? No? Ooops!
Did you see my cow? No? Ooops!
7:32AM on 02/21/2014
Groundbreaking visual effects for the time, too. It's definitely better than Petersen's Poseidon remake.
Groundbreaking visual effects for the time, too. It's definitely better than Petersen's Poseidon remake.
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7:29AM on 02/21/2014
It's the big one! That ride in Universal Studios based on this is pretty fun, too. I'd love to see Earthquake re-released with a D-Box motion track.
It's the big one! That ride in Universal Studios based on this is pretty fun, too. I'd love to see Earthquake re-released with a D-Box motion track.
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7:28AM on 02/21/2014
I just love how there's actually a test at NASA to see how many scientific errors potential applicants can spot in Armageddon. This is such a giant hunk of cheese but I can't help but have a soft spot for it seeing as it was the first movie I saw in theatres, at least that I can recall.
I just love how there's actually a test at NASA to see how many scientific errors potential applicants can spot in Armageddon. This is such a giant hunk of cheese but I can't help but have a soft spot for it seeing as it was the first movie I saw in theatres, at least that I can recall.
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7:27AM on 02/21/2014
It's the kind of thing that's used in geography lessons (I had to do a school assignment in which we had to write an emergency preparation manual as Linda Hamilton's character) and does take itself too seriously but I love the pairing of Hamilton and Pierce Brosnan. Also, behold Oscar winner Grant Heslov's finest moment: [link]
It's the kind of thing that's used in geography lessons (I had to do a school assignment in which we had to write an emergency preparation manual as Linda Hamilton's character) and does take itself too seriously but I love the pairing of Hamilton and Pierce Brosnan. Also, behold Oscar winner Grant Heslov's finest moment: [link]
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7:23AM on 02/21/2014
It's hilarious how sanctimonious and self-serious it is but there's still plenty of spectacle and the image of Jake Gyllenhaal outrunning the *cold* is amazing.
It's hilarious how sanctimonious and self-serious it is but there's still plenty of spectacle and the image of Jake Gyllenhaal outrunning the *cold* is amazing.
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7:21AM on 02/21/2014
It technically is a natural disaster. The wonderful part is how there are only sharks in those tornadoes. No fish or any other sea life.
It technically is a natural disaster. The wonderful part is how there are only sharks in those tornadoes. No fish or any other sea life.
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