Saturday, April 2, 2011

Avalanche (1978)

Once producer Irwin Allen became Hollywood’s master of disaster by cranking out spectacles like The Poseidon Adventure (1972), a slew of copycat titles seemed inevitable. Yet only a handful of disaster movies in the true Allen mode were made without his involvement, probably because the buy-in for ensemble casts of faded Hollywood stars and for extensive special effects daunted low-rent outfits. The inability to acquire proper production resources never daunted producer Roger Corman, however, so in 1978 the world was subjected to his nearly unwatchable production Avalanche, a pathetic attempt to mimic Allen’s style of meshing melodrama with mayhem. Suffice to say that the picture’s tacky mixture of bargain-basement FX and ski-resort stock footage doesn’t exactly create a persuasive illusion, and suffice to say that none of the actors involved distinguishes themselves. The big names slumming in this tedious flick are Mia Farrow and Rock Hudson, with B-movie stalwart Robert Forster and Hollywood veteran Jeanette Nolan along for the ride. Hudson plays, predictably enough, the irresponsible owner of a ski resort who rebuffs warnings that his facility is built on dangerous ground. Yes, it’s that sort of disaster movie, which doesn’t even pretend to be anything except a rote recitation of tropes from the Allen playbook. Offering nothing of interest in terms of action, character, drama, spectacle, or suspense, the movie isn’t even entertaining enough to satisfy ’70s disaster-movie completists, an undemanding population of which I am, for good or ill, a longtime representative. When a disaster movie makes Earthquake seem like a nuanced classic by comparison, you know it’s more of a disaster than a movie.

Avalanche: SQUARE

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