Ahh…the classic, star-studded disaster movie; they sure don’t make them like that anymore…well, sure they do make star-studded movies that are disasters, just not specifically about disasters. This seems like a long reach for a chuckle from you lot, so let’s just jump into my revoltin’ review of 1974’s Earthquake!
Our story begins with Graff (Charlton fuckin’ Heston baby) getting nagged by his wife Remy (Ava Gardner)…because that’s what the kids dig; hen pecked husbands and their pill-poppin’ wives. Following that we get a “high speed” police chase (complete with Zsa Zsa Gabor’s bush…technically a hedge) and that heart-warming ol’ chestnut; a dead child, a mustachioed Marjoe Gortner giving a lady with a sky-high perm (Dallas‘ Victoria Principle) a big slab of his free meat (it involves store credit), Richard Roundtree sportin’ the slickest motorcycle threads/Black Vulcan costume known to mankind and doing his best Evel Knievel bit, Walter Matthau dressed like a pimp sipping booze…pretty much every rando (and decidedly hilarious) thing under the sun, except for the promised shaky-shaky (minus a tremor here or there). But boy when that action starts it’s glorious!
Utilizing everything from full scale moving sets, gorgeous practical miniature work, skillful compositing and matte work, and shocking images of bloodshed and carnage; Earthquake manages to present a spectacular view of devastation that never fails to stun and entertain as Los Angeles is reduced to a pile of crumbling, burned out shit before our eyes…and that’s before the aftershocks kick in!
Also on point are the scenes that take place after the initial mayhem; sequences filled with injured people wandering desolate city streets that are rapidly disintegrating or attempting to escape collapsing buildings (sequences that doubtless will resonate harder to audiences in our post-9/11 world). Of course some folks head straight to the batshit insane phase and begin doing whatever they damn well please to whomever they damn well please which only adds to the horrific nightmare at hand.
There is one thing I have to mention that isn’t quite what it could be…it’s minuscule, but if I didn’t at least give it a quick shout out you boils n’ ghouls would think I was off my ghoulish game. There is a sequence of animated gore that looks like it was created by a child…and not an overly talented one at that. When you see the elevator sequence begin, please sit down, take a deep breath and prepare to laugh your ever-lovin’ ass off!
Since Earthquake is so large scale, Shout! Factory (under their Shout! Select label) have packed this baby with a hefty selection of bonus features as well! First up we get archival audio interviews with Heston, actor Lorne Greene, and Roundtree (well half the conversations anyway). Next up come a series of promo materials including a trailer, TV spot, and radio spots…as well as multiple still galleries covering the film’s production and promotion (with the gallery devoted to the film’s special effects being the real standout; especially for lovers of practical effects wizardry like your’s cruelly).
Also included is a second disc containing the television cut of the film which runs a solid thirty minutes longer than the theatrical cut. This disc has it’s own set of bonus material as well featuring a piece documenting the creation of the film’s score (which was composed by the legendary John Williams), featurettes on matte artist Albert Whitlock’s contributions to the film as well as a conversation with ace sound designer Ben Burtt concerning the audio Sennsuround audio enhancements that accompanied the film during it’s original theatrical run. Also included is the ability to watch the additional television footage separate from the main feature (because who in the hell wants to wait to see scenes of Hotsy Totsy reading the Tarot of her nerd-ass lover man? Not me, that’s for sure…also keep an eye on Principle and Gortner’s hair in some of these sequences, and ready yourself for the “acting” in the fire sequence…it gives that aforementioned “elevator blood” a run for it’s money in the guffaw department for sure).
Entertaining, oft-times charmingly dated, and full of jaw-dropping special effects (mostly for all the right reasons); Earthquake is a hell of a fine disaster yarn that is well worth slappin’ your eerie eyes upon; especially in this feature packed edition!