I Love Disaster Movies

I love disaster movies. There’s something intrinsically satisfying about watching the world get destroyed from the safety of my couch with the knowledge that no one will get hurt and the world will go on. On this day before the long-predicted end of the world, I thought I’d share my top five favorite disaster movies. These are movies I loved in the theater, went out and bought the DVDs and still faithfully watch whenever they are on TV (despite the fact that I can watch the DVDs whenever I want). In fact, my favorite thing is to bring them out once a year, dust them off, and have myself a disaster-thon.

So here are my five favs, from least to most:

Number 5 – Twister (1996)


Not really a “disaster” movie unless you consider the people affected by the twisters the storm chasers were documenting. However, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the relationship between Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. They play Bill and Jo Harding, the soon-to-be-divorced scientists that met chasing storms. Bill shows up to get Jo to sign the divorce papers (along with his fiance, Melissa) and soon real and metaphoric storm clouds are rolling in. This movie is a thrill ride and never fails to suck me in (pun intended, love you Dusty!!). The supporting characters are fantastic, almost as interesting as Bill and Jo. I love Jo Harding’s Aunt Meg and Bill Harding’s fiance Melissa. For the longest time after seeing this movie, I craved pan fried steak and mashed potatoes covered with gravy. And who can forget Jami Gertz saying “we’ve got cows”. This movie made me want to get off of the couch and go chase tornadoes.

Number 4 – Volcano (1997)


I admit it, I love Tommy Lee Jones. He stars as the director of the city’s emergency management department, Mike Roark. He’s no nonsense all the way. He butts heads with seismologist Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) who believes that all the ominous signs in the city are pointing to the development of a volcano under the La Brea Tar Pits. Considering that I live in South Carolina, the disappearance of Los Angeles wouldn’t affect me geographically but I still cheered when the managed to divert the lava and avoid the worst. Well, who wouldn’t? Also I cry every single time that poor man jumps off the subway car and gets burned up by the lava. Again, who wouldn’t?

Number 3 – The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

The Day After Tomorrow

Dennis Quaid tried to warn us. He really tried. A new ice age was coming and coming fast. This was a great movie to make you happy you lived in a very warm state. Although, in the movie’s forecasts, even sunny South Carolina was buried in snow. If it happened for real, I don’t believe we’d be above the frost line. It’s just too warm here. Even in the winter. Seriously, it’s December 20 and about 50 degrees outside. It would be warmer if it weren’t raining. Anyway, back to the movie. It really made me angry when Mexico closed her borders to the northern refugees. The nerve! Then I saw the irony and started laughing. I thought it was so sad that the British researcher who’s wife had just had a baby had to die but at least he was able to send his new family south to safety. I guess the only thing that really bothers me about this movie is the speed with which Dennis and his team got to New York from DC. I lived in DC. New York was a considerable distance. Especially if you were traveling on foot through the snow. Did that seem a bit unrealistic to anyone else?

Number 2 – Dante’s Peak (1997)

Dante's Peak

Yup, another volcano movie. What can I say, I like volcano movies. I thought this one rated higher than Volcano because I really liked everyone in this movie (except for Linda Hamilton’s mother-in-law). The irony was delicious. the day after this quaint little town gets an award for being the nicest place to live, their volcano erupts. Karma is such a stinker. It wasn’t even like they were really bragging. They had to have the celebration for the magazine. The kids’ grandmother really made me want to scream but I loved the fact that Linda Hamilton and the kids wouldn’t write her off no matter what. They went and got her (and got themselves in even more hot water – no pun intended). I don’t know that I would have done it. Old lady wanted to stay on her mountain, so be it. I would have packed up and hit the bricks. Which is why characters with my personality traits never appear in disaster movies. They are the people who were paying attention earlier and left town.

Number 1 – Deep Impact (1998)

Deep Impact

Who didn’t love Morgan Freeman as the president? Seriously who? I want your address so I can come shake some sense into you. When that man puts on his roll collar sweater and prays for the people of the United States, I just bawled. Of course, the entire last 15-20 minutes of this movie is pretty much a tear-fest. From the astronauts talking to their families to Tea Leoni and her dad reuniting on the beach as the big wave comes in. Not to mention the parents who call Elijah Wood back and force their daughter and new baby to get on the bike with him and ride to safety. There’s a lot of self-sacrifice and heroism in this movie and it’s gut-wrenching and very cathartic. I watch it with a large box of Puff Plus.

Honorable Mention – The Day After (1983)

The Day After

While this doesn’t make my top five list, it deserves honorable mention as the movie that scared the crap out of me. Anyone remember this one? It’s a TV movie, starring Jason Robirds as a doctor whose oldest daughter is getting married. Overshadowing their excitement is the military buildup of the Soviet Union as they prepare to invade West Germany. One thing leads to another and boom, nuclear war. The family, in a small town in Kansas, sees two missile strikes in their state. The movie focuses more on the futility of survival as millions die outright and more succumb each day to radiation, starvation and disease. This movie was out and out scary. I remember there were warnings all week long encouraging parents to watch with older children. They even aired a panel discussion after the movie. I think Carl Sagan was one of the panelists but I don’t remember that part very clearly. I was so messed up after this movie that I had to speak with our pastor about death and dying. I even learned a special bible verse that helped to calm me when I got agitated about the possibility of nuclear war. It’s John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world.” This isn’t one of the movies I watch over and over. There’s no hopeful ending to this flick. Just death and destruction. But it certainly makes you stop and think.

Well, that’s it for my list. I hope you all have a fabulous End of the World. If we survive, let me know what some of your favorite disaster movies are.



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