Disaster movies all have a few things in common. For starters they feature some type of disaster. They usually have a star studded cast. And usually the disaster aspect, although impressive lasts for around 20-30 min while the other 90min or so is simply character development. But it always has been a successful formula. From Meteors hurling towards earth, to massive storms, to one of the first ones, an earthquake. Yes, all the way back in 1974 a movie about a giant earthquake the levels Los Angeles came out. It was called Earthquake. It had a hell of a cast. Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Lorne Green, Victoria Principal, George Kennedy, and more. It was truly a spectacle. Nominated 4 for Academy Awards (it won best sound), it even has a ride at Universal Studios as part of the studio tour. I’ve done it, its pretty cool as everything collapses around the trolley you are in.
Earthquake begins as a small earthquake hits LA, nothing special, just an above average tremor. We cut to the CA Seismological building where one of the Dr’s. has been researching these tremors and according to his calculations finds that a giant earthquake will hit LA in the next few days. He tells his superiors but they don’t want to cause a panic and be wrong so they just decide to call the National Guard and local police and tell them in case anything should happen.
We get an occasional tremor here and there as we meet our cast of characters, who for the most part are pretty stereotypical. We have Rosa, a woman struggling to make ends meet, Jody, a nice store manager who is also part of the National Guard. Denise, an up and coming actress, Stewart, a football player going through marital trouble, and many more. They all interact in some way or another until a major 9.9 earthquake hits and just destroys everything.
Building collapse, cars go flying off the freeway, powerlines crash, the Mulholland Dam collapses, just massive destruction on every level. Then if that’s not enough we get the aftershocks trapping more people in various life and death situations and causing even more destruction. And that is truly what the films sell point is, the earthquake itself. I have to say for being made in 1974 this is still the best looking earthquake I’ve seen in film. I will say it looks better, at least in terms or realistic than the more recent San Andreas film. People are running and falling, everything is shaking, it just captures a great claustrophobic feel that has yet to be duplicated. The acting is good, and the characters all serve there purpose but lets be honest you watch a film like this for the action and destruction. And this pays off.
Shout Factory, under there Shout Select Banner has just put this out on a fantastic Blu-ray transfer loaded with special features. And yes I’ll tell you right now this 2 disc collectors set does include the TV Version that runs almost 40min longer. And I have to say this transfer is fantastic, the film looks amazing and sounds even better. I could hear every piece of falling debris. And aside from the TV version you get all of these special features
· NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive Of The Theatrical Cut (2.35:1)
· Audio Options: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.1 With Sensurround Audio, And 2.0
· Original Theatrical Trailer
· Original TV Spot
· Original Radio Spots
· Vintage Audio Interviews With Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, And Richard Roundtree
· Still Galleries – Movie Stills, Posters, Lobby Cards, Behind-The-Scenes Photos, Matte Paintings, And Miniatures
DISC TWO: Television Cut Of The Film
· NEW 2K Scan Reconstruction Of TV version, Featuring Over 20 Minutes Of Made-For-Broadcast Footage (Presented In 1.33:1)
· NEW Sounds Of Disaster: Ben Burtt Talks About SENSURROUND
· NEW Scoring Disaster: The Music Of EARTHQUAKE
· NEW Painting Disaster: The Matte Art Of Albert Whitlock
· The Additional TV Scenes – Play Them Without Watching The Television Version
· Additional TV Scenes (Taken From The Best Available Film Element)
All these years later and this film still holds up well. It set the standard for natural disaster films that still grace the theaters today. Its another must own from Shout Factory that you need to add to your collection.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 Stars!