The 5 Lamest Disasters in Disaster Movie History

#2. Firestorm

The Disaster:

When a retardedly convoluted prison break results in one giant forest fire with four escaped convicts wandering around in the middle of it, it's up to a plucky ornithologist (Suzy Amis) and some guy who parachutes into forest fires for a living (Howie Long) to stop both the fire and the convicts.

Why They Should Calm The Hell Down:

As it turns out, those characters we just mentioned are the only people anywhere near this fire. That's a grand total of six people endangered by this disaster, and four of those are vicious criminals.


And one of them's Howie Long.

As it turns out, there are two kinds of forest fire: The kind that moves really fast and the kind that moves really slow. Guess which this movie is about?

Characters frequently find themselves surrounded by flames only to wander away unharmed. A couple of scenes later, they'll find themselves in some perfectly safe part of the forest untouched by the flames, having easily out-walked the disaster (on rough terrain, no less).

In fact, firefighter Howie Long (a former football player in what he thought would be his star-making debut) doesn't spend a whole lot of time worrying about the fire at all, so unworried about the flames creeping into an even more unpopulated areas of the forest that he spends his time worrying about the escaped convicts instead. Hell, if this were any kind of real fire, it would take care of the convicts for them.

How They Solve the "Problem":

It took us a while to figure out why, but Howie decides to set another forest fire himself. He's literally fighting fire with fire. You'd think the bigger fire would win, leaving yourself with a bigger problem than you started with.

But, at the end of the movie, the two huge fires finally meet up and they knock each other the fuck out. How the hell does that work? Why don't the two fires form one huge fire and destroy everything? Is the fire Howie started a good fire, loyal to its creator?


Ta Da!

Well, here we must admit the movie had science on its side. Yes, firefighters really do this, it's called a backfire and it's supposed to steal oxygen away from the first forest fire.

The lesson: Action movies are always right.

Most Laughable Brush With "Danger":

The escaped convicts (masquerading as firemen) and the ornithologist are trying to make their way around a particularly large fire on their way out of the forest. From above, Howie Long notices that they're wandering directly into the path of the very slowly moving fire! They could be in danger within as little as a half an hour! So, he parachutes down to save them, or at least to advise them to walk in a different direction.

#1. The Day of the Triffids

The Disaster:

When hordes of ambulatory vegetables roam the European countryside in search of delicious human flesh, it's up to a plucky little girl (Janina Faye) and an American sailor (Howard Keel) to fend for themselves and let everybody else go to hell for all they care.

Why They Should Calm The Hell Down:

This is a triffid.

Now, while it certainly is impressive for a plant to learn how to walk around even at a snail's pace, and flinging venom into people's faces is admittedly a fairly cool way to kill somebody, these two abilities alone don't make for a particularly awesome monster. A relatively awesome plant, maybe, if you're grading on a curve, but kind of a lame monster.

Obviously, if you're in any danger of being killed by something that can barely move and needs to get within arm's reach to hurt you, you're either blind or paralyzed. Sci-fi writer John Wyndham, author of the original Day of the Triffids novel, evidently decided that mysteriously paralyzing everybody on the planet would make for a decidedly boring story. So, he wrote up a convoluted excuse for everybody to wind up blind, to give the triffids some kind of a fair chance.

So, some kind of bizarre meteor shower puts on a nice little light show, and anyone who looks at the lights in the sky ends up permanently blind by the following morning.

With about 99% of the world's population completely helpless (Hey, it was a really pretty light show, alright?), the triffids seize their chance to become something other than laugh-out-loud ridiculous.

For the main characters (who still have their sight) the film tries desperately to come up with excuses for why they should feel threatened by the hobbling plants. Therefore every once in a while the heroes have to stop and let the triffids surround them for some reason (i.e. an old man conveniently twists his ankle on absolutely nothing, and has to be carried).

But even then, it's kind of hard to take them seriously as a threat when hundreds of the monsters calmly stand around and let you set them on fire:

Or, when they can't even move fast enough to get out of the way when a survivor accidentally runs one over in his truck, pathetically dragging it along under his bumper:

How They Solve the "Problem":

In a desperate last-ditch effort to save themselves, the heroes decide to try spraying the triffids with salt water. The triffids, surprisingly enough, oblige their hosts by dissolving into a disgusting green sludge.

Yes, not only did screenwriter Bernard Gordon apparently think that the triffids would be too overwhelming of a threat if they didn't have some retarded vulnerability, but it also never occurred to him that his miraculous seawater cure isn't even as effective as just the setting the goddamn things on fire.

Most Laughable Brush With "Danger":

The little girl wanders away from her seafaring guardian to look for rocks or something, and she walks too close to a triffid!

Oh, no! She runs back to the car and gets in, but the triffid reaches the car only a minute or two later! Of course, the triffid's venom spraying attack is no match for a car window, so our heroes just drive away.

We kind of feel sorry for the triffids, really.

If you liked that, check out Steve's look at The 6 Worst Movies Hollywood Almost Made or for some examples of disasters that might spill off of the screen check out 5 Famous Sci-Fi Weapons That They're Actually Building.

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