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The History of Cheesy Disaster Movies [VIDEO]



Sharknado 2: The Second One became the latest disaster movie to be a hit. That made me think of how these movies ever started. And yes, people actually watched both Sharknado movies!

It all started in 1963 when movie producers hit on a success formula to make money: put a big ensemble of movie stars together in an unthinkable situation. Then sit back and watch the tickets sell. It was a comedy called It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World. It worked.

At the end of the 60’s, the mood was somber, so movies started to reflect that. In 1970, movie producers once again pulled out the ensemble cast idea to boost box office  numbers. This time, the movie wasn’t a comedy, but the granddaddy of all disaster movies, Airport. Again, it worked. And, it got an Oscar!

I should also mention that the music in most of these was composed by the legendary John Williams of Star Wars fame. Talk about a big time guy!

The ’70s became the era of the disaster movie. Some of the best were made. The ’80s saw only one in this category: The Day After. It was about a nuclear attack on the U.S..

The ’90s saw a few, but only 2 meet my standard of being cheesy. Then came Sharknado! Brilliant, except for one thing; no big stars. Tara Reid? Really? That’s ok, the cheesy factor outweighs that.

So what are the ultimate cheesy disaster movies? I am so glad you asked!







This was the first and the standard to go by. Charlton Heston was in most of these movies,but not this one. Oh, so was George Kennedy (he was also in Naked Gun)

The cast included Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, and Helen Hayes.



Airport 75



There were a few of these movies! This one was the second best.

Cast: Charlton Heston, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Helen Reddy, Sharon Gless, Linda Blair, and Larry Storch.



The Towering Inferno



This movie pulled out all the stops by casting hot properties Paul Newman and Steve McQueen! Fred Astaire, William Holden, Faye Dunaway and future Naked Gun cast member OJ Simpson were also in it.



The Poseidon Adventure



This one came out in 1972. The most memorable scene in this movie is when the ship gets engulfed in a monster wave.  The Perfect Storm took a cue from that, no doubt.

Again, it featured a star cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowell, Leslie Nielson, and Shelly Winters.






Released in 1974, this is one cool flick.  Charlton Heston is again in this one. The effects are fun to watch. especially the cardboard houses.

Cast included: Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Victoria Principal, Walter Matthau.



The Day After



This movie creeped me out big time. It debuted on TV at a time when we constantly worried about “the bomb.” I was in high school and we had to watch it for an assignment. I had nightmares for weeks.

The cast included: Jason Robards, John Lithgow, JoBeth Williams, and Steve Guttenberg.






Disaster movies tend to mirror what is on the peoples’ mind. This was no exception. In 1997, Mount St. Helens and volcanoes were on our minds.

In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about a volcano under a city erupting. Weird.

Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche were in this one.



Night of The Twisters



This debuted on the Family Channel in 1996. Yes, it was wholesome family fare. Not!

I admit, I watched this one twice. Hey, John Schneider was in it! You know, “Bo Duke”? Plus, I love tornadoes.


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