Top 10 Weather Related Genre Flicks!

Oh baby, the big one is at our doorstep. The mega-quake. The Richter buster. SAN ANDREAS. Real shit, it seems not even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can avert this here Earthly rock from tectonically shifting into itself at calamitous proportions. At least, that's what the trailers for the epic, marvelously massive natural disaster flick that looks to open and engulf the masses this Friday depicts. Good gracious! And say what you want. Call this an emptily asinine mega-spectacle devoid of thought if you wish, but like most natural disaster joints, there's sure to actually be some kind of topical poignancy - however overt or covert - that backbones the entire story. Which makes sense. One need just take a single look around the world right now - floods, fires, quakes, tornados, typhoons, tsunamis, hurricanes - have become an urgent and emergent daily occurrence. Frighteningly so. Hell, this week in Houston is a prime example of the escalating climate change and the horrors therein. Or Oklahoma. That's why natural disaster flicks have always ranked among the most unnerving...their scenarios aren't too farfetched. So, in honor of SAN ANDREAS cracking open today, we're fondly calling attention to our Top 10 favorite weather related, natural disaster horror/thrillers. Smash it up top to enter!


Let's pretend the hazily doltish 2005 redo of John Carpenter's THE FOG never was, and instead celebrate the 35 year anniversary of the original with nothing but the highest order of reverence. Sure, the film doesn't strictly adhere to nature as the sole threat, but rather allocates the murky seaside FOG as a generative scrim for a horde of red-eyed demons out to emerge and subsume a small town. Either way, the ambience and atmosphere in this film is so engrossing that it almost feels like you're there... immersed headlong into the thick, dense fog with nowhere to escape!


8 years later and I'm still trying to pick up the pieces that Frank Darabont's emotionally shattering finale to THE MIST left me in. Seriously. With as uncompromising an ending to a horror film as we can remember for a mainstream release, let's not forget that, while a foggily veiled creature feature at its core, THE MIST uses the opacity of a certain weather forecast to keep us blindsided throughout. In other words, finale included, we can never really see what's coming. This makes the film inherently more thrilling, more surprising, and keeps us one the edge while watching it.


Don't be fooled friends, TAKE SHELTER is a brilliant weather-based disaster flick masquerading as a character-driven psychological thriller. It really is. The whole movie Michael Shannon's character is beset with twisted apocalyptic visions of an impending super-storm, yet no one, including his family, will believe him. In fact, they start to think the dude is going batshit bonkers. And for awhile, so do we. However, in a deeply enthralling final shot, the truth is revealed by the expression of Shannon's wife, played by Jessica Chastain. I'll leave it there, and only add this is the exact type of film that plays to the life-altering paranoia of doomsday preppers and mid-western fallout shelter survivalists. See this movie if you haven't!


From the gentleman who gave us THE CROW, DARK CITY and I, ROBOT - Egyptian born director Alex Proyas served up perhaps his most thought-provoking picture via the 2009 release of KNOWING, starring my cinematic doppelganger father-figure, Nic Cage. The flick follows an astrophysicist who finds a 50-year old time capsule with a string of dates that correspond with catastrophic weather events that have beset the planet. Problem is, the dates extend beyond 2009, which means Cage and company are tasked with mitigating future disasters, in particular one final big-bang like event.


Consider this a doff of the lid to 2012 as well, Roland Emmerich's semi-sequel to the globe-engulfing doomsday weather report of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. But, as per usual, the OG is the better version. Not necessarily in terms of plot and character, they remain utterly absurd from one flick to the next, but as far as eye-popping visuals and grand-scale FX are concerned, DAY AFTER TOMORROW is quite impressive in spots. Also, here's a movie from 2004 taking on the real-life topical threat of catastrophic climate change and the global destruction potentiated from such.


Truth be told, I really wanted to craft a lame "you are the wind beneath my wings" joke about the 1987 straight-to-video slasher flick called THE WIND, yes, starring the immortal Wings Hauser. But since M. Night's mystifyingly dopey THE HAPPENING actually made the wind a force of evil, or at least suggested it, here we are. Wow. What a supremely dim yet wildly amusing piece of so-bad-it's-good entertainment. I mean, good actors here like Wahlberg, Deschanel and Leguizamo are reduced to quizzical squinting and permanent expressions of utter puzzlement. They look constipated frankly, which I suppose is apropos given how shitty the film is.


Here's a tidbit of trivia for ya...the late great Michael Crichton and his wife Anne-Marie Martin co-wrote the screenplay for TWISTER - the FX driven post-SPEED Jan de Bont offering. Then, Joss Whedon and Steve Zaillian were paid ungodly sums to doctor the script. Equal parts bona fide thrill-ride and sheer lunacy, in 1996 TWISTER felt like the must-see event movie of the year, dramatizing to great effect the real-life horror of mid-western tornados that ravage the land every damn year. Known for being the first flick released on DVD, I submit that even more infamous than that cow going flying, is the quick-flash of the late great Phil Hoffman's junk during one scene. Youtube it!


Now here's a prime example of the sprawling, mega-ensemble disaster flicks that were rampant in the 70s...and frankly, one that could be considered as the forerunning basis for SAN ANDREAS itself. After-all, EARTHQUAKE too tells an interwoven story of the lives of many Los Angelinos caught plum in the middle of a massive in magnitude quake that shakes the entire land. Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Walter Mattheau, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Richard Roundtree and a whole host of other recognizable names round out the endangered cast, performing lines from a script co-written by Mario Puzo (THE GODFATHER).


Take your pick of eruptive 1997 magma! Both DANTE'S PEAK and VOLCANO dropped two months apart from each other in '97, but as usually the case, we favor the first. Not only because VOLCANO never actually featured mountainous explosions in Los Angeles (subterranean tar-pits were the source), but because DANTE'S PEAK had more believable VFX and more involving character drama. True, Tommy Lee Jones' nasty feather-mullet is sorely missing from DANTE'S PEAK, but what can we do. And hey, while we're professing our lava-love, here's a shout out to the fun if stupefying Asylum flick AIRPLANE VS. VOLCANO...aka Dean Cain's Peak!


I realize A.J. Bayona's brutally intense disaster flick THE IMPOSSIBLE isn't one we covered a ton around here, but if you want to see one of the most harrowingly realistic movie about a Southeast Asian tsunami ravaging the lives of an entire country - and one family in particular (great turn from Naomi Watts) - we strongly urge you to check this one out. After-all, it does come from the director of THE ORPHANAGE and the upcoming WORLD WAR Z 2, not to mention dramatically retells the devastating real-life 2004 storm system that tore Thailand apart. Visceral, immersive, yet respectfully told - THE IMPOSSIBLE succeeds as both mega-scale disaster experience as well as small-scale human drama.
Tags: Hollywood

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