Monday, 25 June 2018



The run of disaster movies in the 1970s, most famously brought to the screen by Irwin Allen, mixed all star casts with grand scale catastrophe and spectacle. One thinks obviously of Allen's own productions The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, or Airport (and its increasingly weak sequels) and Earthquake; perhaps less fondly of The Swarm or Allen's last hurrah, the genuinely bewildering When Time Ran Out. Inevitably, as with any major box-office trend, there were the lower-budgeted, lower-powered versions and Roger Corman got in on the action with one of the few natural disasters left.

In fact Avalanche isn't too bad: it looks and feels like a TV movie with only the occasional mild oath and moments of easily edited nudity to stop it playing on a Saturday afternoon. Rock Hudson has put most of his money on the line for a luxury Colorado ski resort; Hudson's ex Mia Farrow is making eyes at Robert Forster, who has environmental concerns about the project (not limited to the likelihood of an avalanche), and an assortment of other supporting characters not played by name actors - skiers, figure skaters - have their own sexual shenanigans going on. Meanwhile the weather is closing in and the avalanche is only a matter of time....

Too much of that time is spent on relationships and personal problems we don't care about, and it feels like an (ice) age before the mountain finally goes and the avalanche stock footage of varying age and quality is intercut with people falling over while the effects guys throw lumps of Styrofoam and polystyrene at them from the lighting gantry. When disaster eventually does strike it's actually quite watchable fun, and something of a relief from the soap opera dramatics, with a child stranded on the ski lift, Hudson's mother trapped in the collapsing hotel, and assorted brightly clad idiots buried upside down by superimposed snow. Little of it makes sense (why does Hudson have a colossal gun aimed at the gathering snow on the mountaintop if not to start an avalanche?) but there's moderate amusement to be had.


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