Avalanche (1978) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Avalanche (1978)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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Danny INDIFFERENTRock Hudson spends the vast majority of Roger Corman's cheapie disaster pic Avalanche with a huge target on his back. Through years of meticulous planning, deforestation, bribes, affairs, and just in general being a dick to everyone around him, he's finally about to open his massive multi-million dollar ski resort in the foothills of Colorado. To say that he's doomed for some misery and regrets within the next ninety minutes is to speak the obvious.

Hudson decides top off this accomplishment by inviting his ex-wife to the grand opening and making a grand play for her heart once again; after reading those first two sentences, it probably won't surprise you that she sleeps with someone else that night.

His ex-wife is played by Mia Farrow in one of her more comatose roles. I'd say more about her role in this film, but that pretty much has it covered. She kind of wanders between plotlines most of the time, doing that big eyed Mia Farrow thing that requires little else than having big eyes.

BIG EYES. P.S. - This expression is confusion.

Of c0urse, we wouldn't have much of a disaster movie if we only had two characters. Two stars, sure, but two characters? For your pleasure, here's the rest of our cast by stereotype:

  • Ski star who likes to have tons of sex and tries to outrun avalanches for fun in his spare time.
  • Former ice-skating champ who has lost her nerve and her supportive, wise old coach who insists on her persisting towards going back to the Olympics.
  • Wildlife expert paid who warns that conditions are perfect for an avalanche. His warnings go promptly ignored. He also leaves awesome notes like this:

  • Hudson's doting but sweet mother who is doomed to pay for her son's sins.
  • And many more.

All of these characters probably had names and actors playing them and everything, but I'll be damned if I can recall who is who from the IMDB credits. It doesn't really matter; you watch this kind of movie to see who lives and who dies, and to marvel at the amazing special effects. Right?

Well, no. Not at all.

Here is a Tootsie Roll stuck in a pile of powdered sugar.

Using a combination of stock footage, cheap models, some extremely silly looking overlays, and, the primary force of any avalanche, large silly looking Styrofoam boulders, the titular avalanche is about as frightening as your average snowball fight. The visceral thrill is nonexistent, and while I do feel that I've grown past the point where I can enjoy watching hundreds of people getting killed for the sake of a cliched plot, I doubt anyone watching this will be satiated by the sublimely dumb effects.

Avalanche is a knock-off of other popular disaster movies of the time like The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, and The Swarm (okay, that last one might not have been quite so popular), using some cheap stars to fuel its tawdry and simple plot. It's amazing when a few scenes actually work (a shot of two men filling a truck with occupied bodybags is appropriately mournful) and less surprising when some scenes end up jaw droppingly bad (the ski star and a skater end up having sex while communicating in nothing but ice sports euphemisms).

You know how they say, "if you've seen one, you've seen them all"? If you've seen a disaster movie, you've seen Avalanche.

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Posted by Danny

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