Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lessons from disaster

I just finished watching another, in a very long stream of a subgenre of disaster movies depicting conditions threatening the survival of mankind. I have been raised on a steady stream of these movies since "The Day the Earth Stood Still" back in 1951 and "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" in 1962. Out of the many "ten best" lists, it seems that there are always one or two of the films that deal with the destruction of mankind in some form or another. I even suffered through various iterations of "Planet of the Apes." Some of the movies were pretty good, like Independence Day, but others were awful like When Worlds Collide. The awful ones outnumber the good ones by quite a large factor. Recently, they have been making these movies in pairs, likely so you can see how bad both of the movies really are, like Deep Impact and Armageddon as well as Volcano and Dante's Peak. I can still remember the depressed ending of On the Beach although I did like the race cars. I have to mention here, that I do not go to see R rated movies at all, period. So I am spared some of the worst of the worst. (See MIB)

Through all of this devastation and destruction, I have learned a few lessons I would like to pass on before I do.

1. If you want to survive, do not live in New York City. Inevitably, the ice (See The Day After Tomorrow), or the monsters (See the newer Godzilla 1998 version) and a lot of other terrible things end up in or start out in New York. Most recently I Am Legend which was sort-of like a remake of I Robot without the robots, other charaters besides Will Smith or the plot. Phoenix is almost immune to disaster it seems. Interestingly, in Independence Day, when all the major cities of the world that are destroyed, the aliens skip some of the larger cities in South America and Africa. Apparently, monsters and aliens are not interested in you if you live in Buenos Aires. If you have to live in New York, try to live as close to the New York Public Library as you can. If you have to move out of New York, do not chose London or Tokyo.

2. Do not walk around at night shining lights into dark warehouses or other structures. This suggestion may cause some inconvenience to those who shine lights into dark warehouses for a living, but usually the inconvenience is short, because the person ends up dead or eaten or worse.

3. In most cases, stay close to the President of the United States. The President always seems to have a good bit part in the disaster movies and although the President has been known to bite the dust, the Vice President usually comes through (or vice versa). See Independence Day again unless you have already seen it ten times.

4. If you have to go somewhere, go to a church. You might still get zapped by the aliens but the guys that survive will probably be around there somewhere. See War of the Worlds (two versions, both pretty bad). But so will the bad guys, aliens, monsters etc.

5. If you have to wear protective clothing, be careful around sharp objects. This suggestion is self explanatory and just makes good sense. However, the people who write these movies never seem to give the main characters enough sense to come in out of the rain and they always seem to be tearing the suit. See Andromeda Strain or better yet, don't see Andromeda Strain.

6. If a lone scientist moves into town with a wacky theory about the destruction of the world, leave town immediately. It is amazing how many of these movies focus on one person who seems to have figured out why the world is ending and no one else seems to catch on. If the wacko isn't the scientist, then there a beautiful young woman scientist to take the rap for the theories. See any number of hacky made for TV movies on the Sci Fi channel.

7. If a strange meteor lands near your farm, leave the area immediately. This scenario was even spoofed in Men In Black. This rule is especially true if you are at all curious and feel compelled to investigate the strange phenomena.

8. Don't pay good money to see a disaster film. Wait until you can get it free through a local public library or borrow it from one of your friends or family members who has not read my blog. If you feel compelled to see a disaster movie, just remember you can't fast forward on TV or in a theater.

Wait a minute, I almost forgot the ultimate, absolute, worst movie of all time. So bad it has a cult following, you guessed it: Plan 9 from Outer Space. And wait minute again, don't forget The Monster that Challenged the World (which assumes the world is located in the Salton Sea in southern California next to a canal). Now that I've got started, you have to remember The Invasion of the Saucer Men which redefines the term special effects in a very negative way and last, but not least, the original, the only, The Crawling Eye.

And what did I learn from these gems? I watch way too many movies.


  1. Thanks for your excellent suggestions. I'll really take those to heart and remember them! (And another thing to be thankful for--I think I've only seen about 4 of the mentioned movies. I guess that is about all I ever need to see!)

  2. You didn't like When Worlds Collide? You didn't watch it at three in the morning after staying up for 36 hours. The movie seems brilliant then....