While people on the East Coast are already experiencing tremendous wind and flooding conditions while awaiting the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, it's no surprise that many are taking the occasion to watch disaster movies involving enormous waves and devastating weather. Two popular rentals on iTunes today, for proof, are The Perfect Storm and The Day After Tomorrow. It's not just for those in her path, though. Feeling like I'm missing out on the storm of the century -- although we did have a major power outtage in my inland Georgia town yesterday -- I wanted nothing more than to watch Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. this morning.
I pick a comedy, because sometimes dramatic disaster movies are a little too scary. As cheesy as The Day After Tomorrow is and as unrealistic its scenarios are, some of it is just extreme exaggeration of the effects we have already experienced and may one day see as a result of climate change. Today jokers are tweeting stills from the movie of giant waves crashing against the Statue of Liberty and pretending it's an actual photo of the hurricane, and funny as that is, the real waves that are coming may not in fact be such a laughing matter.
Meanwhile, it's also almost Halloween, and what better time to talk about films that scare us than now? I'll admit that I'm often more scared of the situations in disastar movies than in horror films. Especially lately, it seems that natural disasters are more likely to get us than a serial killer or great white shark or demonically possessed child. Also, a nuclear tragedy -- resulting from a power plant accident (The China Syndrome) or an enemy (The Day After) -- is not an impossibility. And who knows when a gigantic asteroid might actually veer in our direction?
Maybe Armageddon and Deep Impact aren't too scary, on account of the disaster situation not being as relatable as those in Earthquake or Twister or Hurricane, but they and other seemingly preposterous films of their kind are thrilling in a way that works off our fears. Movies based on true stories can obviously be scarier, however. Titles like The Perfect Storm, Hereafter (pictured above) and the upcoming movie The Impossible should make you feel something more. If not fear than sadness.
Even Steamboat Bill Jr. can be scary at times. Few of us are as athletic and clever as Keaton, and we would get smashed by the side of a collapsing building or be harmed by any of the other cyclone stunts in the film. Also, when I'm in Los Angeles I avoid the Metro out of fear my car will end up surrounded by lava a la Volcano. I'm serious.
What is the scariest disaster movie?
Here some responses received so far via Twitter:
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