Monday, November 9, 2009

What? Me Worry?

Okay, I'll admit to another weakness of mine (besides being a crime-fic junkie). I enjoy disaster flicks (the more recent of which, along with their elaborate special effects, are now referred to as disaster porn). I don't know why I do. Perhaps, it's because I live in a state where we are all just a size 7 earthquake on the Richter Scale away from living it ourselves. And, watching the cataclysm on the movie screen is a perverse distraction from dwelling upon that fact. It doesn't help that Los Angeles has been employed in so many movies as fiasco fodder that it's actually a surprise when it's not used in one. So, with 2012 coming out this week (my son and I are already scheduled for this cinema mayhem), L.A. will again be on display, and on the losing end. Don't believe me? Take a gander at the sneak:

Director Roland Emmerich lives in the southland so I expect him to put in some nice little touches for local accuracy. For example, in the above clip the overhead expressway you see collapsing is our world famous (and locally infamous) 405 freeway. I hope you noticed that it was packed with vehicles as it collapsed and dumped its payload into the chasm. The end of traffic congestion! See, it's the little things you get the most joy out of, don't ya think? So, I've put together a small list of my favorite movie scenes where my hometown gets plastered [spoiler alert: some endings and key plots points are revealed in the films listed below].

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds LA Destruction

We're talking about the classic 1953 version (not the Spielberg/Cruise 2005 vehicle). Director (Bryan Haskin) and producer, the great George Pal, do a fantastic job of bringing the vision of H.G. Wells to the screen. It may start somewhere else in a small town, but it ends triumphantly among the debris and rubble of L.A. This was the one film, as a child, that made me think about sneezing on my kid-era foes.

Independance Day

From Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer
Director Emmerich's first real special effects laden beat down of LaLa Land. He ignored the symbolism of taking out the well-known and familiar City Hall (like the previous film), and went after the tallest building we have, the fomerly named Library Tower on Fifth Street in downtown L.A. (it's also the tallest skyscaper west of the Mississippi River).

Miracle Mile

Steve De Jarnatt's 1988 gem of an apocalyptic thriller is a highly underrated film. Not only does it correctly capture the area's character for which the movie is named after, but it ends with the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles (along with the rest of the city) being hit by multiple nuclear missile strikes. What can I say? It's the 80's.

Kiss Me Deadly

From Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer

I have to include this famous, and restored, final scene from Robert Aldrich's Mike Hammer 1955 movie. Mickey Spillane hated the movie, along with its screenwriter (who only had contempt for the novel). Though Hammer, with the help of his girl Velda, break free of the burning house, there is no escape for them (or L.A.) when the femme fatale of the tale unleashes the atomic genie from the valise.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

From Blogger Pictures
Alright, too much of a good thing is bad. So, this is the last nuclear pasting that involves the city of my birth (but it's a great one). The scene is from James Cameron's 1991 Terminator sequel, and it includes the Sara Connor dream sequence that recreates, with the stark and realistic special effects, the chilling consequences of a nuclear explosion upon downtown.

The Day After Tomorrow

I'll end this list with Emmerich's last calamity film, from 2004, and its weather gone wild scenario. Tornadoes wreak havoc on The City of Angels (and wipeout the Hollywood Sign, in the bargain)! The key lesson from the movie: NEVER go back to the office in a disaster film!

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  1. You really are a glutton for punishment!

    There was an article in the local paper just yesterday (although it may have been pulled from AP) about how much America loves disaster movies. They might have been writing about you!

  2. Yep, you're right. I'll look out for that article (perhaps they'll have some psychological insight I can't fathom at the moment). It is kind of illogical to have this bent. Thanks, Corey.

  3. Yeah, I have a weakness for disaster porn films as well. Even though most of them are pretty badly made there is something about 'em that compels me to watch them. Maybe it's imagining what I would do in that given scenario while I'm watching said film.

    Of those bunch, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW is probably my fave. DEEP IMPACT is pretty amusing to watch if only to see Frodo outrun a HUGE tidal wave. Heh.

    If you really wanna get your disaster porn fix on, I believe the SyFy Channel is having a disaster film marathon next Saturday culminating with the premier of ICE TWISTER! I'm so there...

  4. TDAT is a big fav of my son and I - this year, I included my daughter in the viewing, too (as their mom was out on a business trip). DEEP IMPACT is another (who knew Frodo could scurry so well). Thanks for your comment, J.D., and the heads up for SyFy disaster film marathon.

  5. My wife gives me plenty of stick for being a horror buff, and gets some back for being an avid viewer of disaster movies and, well, any film that includes a car chase scene or fx sequences.

    You have chosen some excellent examples in your list, and good to see Miracle Mile in there. JD also mentioned this film recently

  6. I'd say, Steve, your wife and you make quite a wonderful team with your tastes in film. And Miracle Mile is very, very underrated. I hope J.D. gives it a review, too. IIRC, Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham (when she did a guest appearance arc) on the ER TV series had some references to MM written in because of their previous pairing on the movie. Thanks very much for your comment, my friend.