The 33 Best Disaster Films You Should Watch!
Are you afraid of coronavirus and stay at home all the time? I know that many people watched again old forgotten disaster films, as well as films about all sorts of diseases became popular.
Many strange guys fell in love with zombie films (although we are still far from that). But let’s look at movies that went even further? Disasters, worldwide and local and let’s see if there are things worse than self-isolation. There are a lot of 90s disaster movies on this list, so don’t be surprised. Let’s start!
1. 2012 (2009)
2012 is a little bit strange name for a film made up in 2009. The film was directed by Roland Emmerich. This time in the center of the plot is the prediction of the Mayan people. In 2012, the planets of the solar system will be on the same line, which will lead to a series of global natural disasters, affecting the entire planet. The story focuses on the family of writer Jackson Curtis, who discovers that the Earth is in mortal danger. The neutrino flux resulting from the most powerful solar flare warms up the core of our planet to a critical level. This becomes the initial link in the chain of events, which should ultimately wipe out all life from the face of the Earth. Tectonic plates begin to move: where previously there was solid soil, now appear the ocean or a bottomless abyss. Heroes are trying to save themselves, and scientists only shrug their hands ‒ no one could prevent these events.
2. The Swarm (1978)
The headquarters of the Air Force of the United States east coast receives an alarm from one of the bases located in Texas, near the town of Morrisville. To clarify the situation, a detachment led by General Slater was sent to the base.
Military officers find all employees dead, only one person survived ‒ entomologist Bradford Crane.
He tells the military that all personnel was killed by African killer bees, whose swarm attacked the base. The general did not believe the survivor and contacted the headquarters, from where, at the highest level, to his great surprise and displeasure. He was ordered to render all possible assistance.
3. Armageddon (1998)
Armageddon has become one of the most notable films directed by Michael Bay (not counting “Transformers”). In the center of the plot there is a team of drillers trying to save the Earth from imminent death. The thing is that, according to NASA forecasts, an incredible size asteroid is approaching our planet. And if earlier Earthlings were lucky because the trajectories of cosmic bodies of this size did not intersect with the planet, now everything is much worse.
The asteroid will surely fall to Earth, no one will survive, even bacteria will disappear. A catastrophe can only be prevented if to explode an asteroid from the inside. To fulfill this most important task, the team of hereditary driller Harry Stamper is involved. Together with his team, as well as with professional astronauts, he is heading towards the asteroid.
It is known that after the release of “Armageddon” on the screens, NASA scientists counted more than 160 errors in it.
4. Deep impact (1998)
In the film “Deep Impact”, one of the most widespread and vivid fantasies of science fiction directors is modeled: a comet of impressive dimensions approaches Earth, in the event of a collision, no living organism has a chance of survival and in a panic, the US government sounds the alarm around the world. The most advanced scientists of mankind puzzle over how to prevent a catastrophe. A special ship is launched into space, which is supposed to blow up the comet, but the operation will not succeed ‒ the comet does not explode but bifurcates and a collision is inevitable. The US president has no choice but to make an official statement on television to inform his citizens about the imminent world death. This is where the fun begins. How will humanity react? People of different ages, professions, views? Who will wait patiently, hoping for the best, and who will go all out, knowing that the punishment will not reach him, or maybe someone will try to prevent the catastrophe? In any case, the life of every person on the planet will change radically.
5. Earthquake (1974)
One of the most popular films of the first half of the 70s offers the viewer to survive the earthquake in Los Angeles with the heroes. Before the advent of digital technology in cinema, large-scale destruction for safety and economic reasons was most often filmed using miniature models and pyrotechnics. For this picture, the mock-ups built a whole city block on a scale of 1: 6. It was this size in relation to buildings that seemed to them the most convincing subject to shooting with an increased frame rate.
The movie of Mark Robson could not be without the drawn backgrounds of the disfigured metropolis, which were imprinted into frames through masks using a stunt machine or an optical printer. It is also worth mentioning the simultaneously suffered 141 stuntmen in the frame. At that time, this figure was close to a record. Well, to top it off, Earthquake was the first film to develop the Sensurround low-frequency sound system. The system forced the seats in the cinema to vibrate in frames with jolts and tremors. But the technological novelty turned out to be so expensive in production and operation that it was soon abandoned. Nevertheless, it received Oscar for the sound, as well as a special prize for special effects.
6. The Wandering Earth (2019)
The action takes place in the near future when the Earth is in danger. The rapid fading of the Sun leads to a cooling of the planet and the threat of extinction for all living things. Unpowered in the face of a global catastrophe, world leaders came together to form a unified government of the Earth and find a solution to the problem.
The sun is dying, people around the world are building giant engines to move the Earth out of orbit and direct the Earth to a new star system. A journey of 2500 years is fraught with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this century of wandering Earth come out boldly and stubbornly fight for everyone’s survival. It is one of the movies like Geostorm. For fans of fierce science fiction, the premise of this film is really a little absurd and scientifically inaccurate: building ten thousand massive engines on the surface of the earth to move the entire planet from the dying sun. Still, the focus is not on technology, but on people. The main plot focuses on grandfather, father, and son (plus an adopted daughter) trying to survive and preserve all dignity, and humanity still remains on a chaotic frozen planet. The film drives into the idea that one human life is simply an incredibly expendable resource in the wider picture.
7. The Last Days of Pompeii (1959)
A film adaptation of the famous novel by the English writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton tells about the exploits of the first Christians and the courageous centurion Glacis. Centurion Glacis returns from a long and grueling campaign outside the Roman Empire. At home he faces the sad news of the vile murder of his father by an unknown killer. This tragic event infuriates him and he begins to investigate the incident. Meanwhile, murders continue crimes in the city, and Pompeii believes the Christians to be the culprits, although many suspect that the ruler’s palace hides many secrets in this regard. And then it seems like the element of nature angrily begins to destroy the city, trying to bury all its splendor and hypocrisy under the ruins.
8. Dante’s Peak (1997)
An exciting film “Dante’s Peak” takes place in a provincial town of the same name. It tells about an impending disaster that can destroy not just the city, but the entire planet Earth. The protagonist Harry Dalton is a seismologist. He studies volcanic activity and comes to Dante’s Peak to investigate the seismic activity of a local volcano. He is lonely, his wife died several years ago during a volcanic eruption. And conducting fairly routine research, Harry discovers that humanity is in danger of a terrible catastrophe. He tries to reach out to all government authorities, but to no avail. To attract to his side he is given only Rachel Wendo ‒ the local mayor. I must say, she is also single and lives with her young children. In general, everything spun, and, of course, a romance brakes out in them. Together they will fight with all their might. But what is man, compared with the frantic natural elements? Can Harry and Rachel find supporters, will their politicians hear them? What if you know that nowhere to retreat. The ending of this disaster film is truly unexpected.
9. Volcano (1997)
The big city of Los Angeles throughout its history has survived many different disasters: fires, earthquakes, floods. In the movie “Volcano”, filmed in 1997, viewers can see how the city is faced with a terrible catastrophe that it once experienced, which threatens to simply remove it from the face of the earth. No one ever foresees where the trouble might come from, especially when it comes to nature. Near one of the most populated areas of the city, the volcano suddenly wakes up and the hot lava, which threatens with death, is already splashing out onto lanes that are simply clogged with motorcycles and cars. The recovered volcano is located right in the middle of the town and is very rapidly manifesting its power. It is not possible to take out all the inhabitants of the city on time and it remains only to take some actions on their own. And now a courageous rescue service officer enters into the fight against a terrible volcano, who are obliged to take all measures to save people in the event of natural disasters.
10. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
After the United States of America, together with the Soviet Union, conducted a series of large-scale nuclear tests, an environmental disaster occurred on Earth. As a result of the tests, the balance is disturbed, and the planet begins to rotate in the opposite direction around its axis. This led to the fact that the Earth gradually begins to move in the direction of the Sun, which will inevitably burn it. The end of the world cannot be avoided, and as it approaches, the press becomes more active. The reporters are stamped on the pages of newspapers by scandals one by one, and they organize cunning intrigues. In general, before meeting with the Almighty, they will go all out.
11. The High and Mighty (1954)
At the Honolulu Airport, a Douglas passenger twin-engine aircraft is preparing for its next flight to San Francisco. The co-pilot on this flight is Dan Roman, nicknamed “Whistling”. This is his first flight after the crash, in which all the passengers of the flight died, including his wife and daughter. Passengers calmly land and sit in comfortable seats in anticipation of a pleasant flight. The aircraft accelerates, takes off from the ground, and gains a height of nine thousand meters. And everything seems to be as always, but an unexpected push shakes the whole machine ‒ one of the two engines has caught fire.
The movie “The High and Mighty” was released in 1954 and immediately won the attention of spectators in different corners of the Earth. Action movies have always been especially popular when they are filmed by eminent directors such as William A. Wellman.
12. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Another large-scale problem that exists in real life is global warming. Director Roland Emmerich fully talked about the consequences of this natural process. Mass melting of glaciers leads to a lower temperature in the oceans. These changes affect the whole ecosystem. The climate on Earth is changing. If at first, these changes are almost imperceptible, then after a while their echoes begin to feel absolutely everything on themselves: large hail falls in Tokyo, long rains begin in different countries, where there was no tornado they occur in incredible quantities, and snow falls in the desert. Scientist Jack Hall warned the US government about this, but they did not listen to him on time. Now it’s too late. We need to prepare for the worst. Jack’s son, Sam, is located in New York. His father goes on a journey that could take his own life.
13. Crawl (2019)
The plot revolves around Haley Keller ‒ a girl from Florida who is professionally engaged in swimming. When a fifth-category hurricane falls on her city, she decides to ignore the evacuation order to go in search of her father, Dave, who has stopped answering calls and messages. Soon, Haley manages to find Dave seriously injured in the basement of the family house, but the father and daughter are trapped due to the rapidly arriving water, and the invasion of huge alligators significantly reduces their chances of survival …
14. In Old Chicago (1937)
The 1854 year. The family of Irish immigrant Patrick O Leary hurries to a new life in the city of Chicago, but this trip turns into a tragedy ‒ Patrick dies. Before his death, he tells his wife Molly and his sons to stay in Chicago, which will soon become a great city where everyone can become rich. Arriving in the city, Molly successfully opens a laundry. Years pass, sons grow up, but each of them goes his own way. Dion, having fallen in love with the chansonette Belle Fawcett, begins with the help of bribes the construction of the largest entertainment center in the city and achieves considerable success. Soon he becomes one of the richest people in the city. Meanwhile, Jack runs for mayor and wins the election. He does not suspect that his victory has been made according to the script of his brother. After becoming mayor, Jack decides to fight corruption that spanned Chicago spontaneously and the first thing he does is sign a decree to demolish the city center with all of Dion’s entertainment venues. A monstrous confrontation begins between the brothers, leading to the whole city’s destruction.
15. Pompeii (2014)
The historical disaster film Pompeii was shot by renowned British film director Paul William Scott Anderson. The plot of the movie tells about the romantic love story of an ordinary slave Milo and a girl from a rich and noble family, unfolding against the backdrop of the death of one of the greatest ancient Roman cities – Pompeii, which was completely buried under a thick layer of lava and ash as a result of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Milo is the last of the nomads who once lived on the islands of Britain, which were completely destroyed by the Romans in 62 A.D. His parents died, which made him a slave.
Once, when he becomes a real man, Milo is transported to Pompeii to participate in deadly gladiatorial battles. There he meets the girl Cassia and feelings immediately flare up between them. However, they are not destined to be together, because he is a slave, and she is from a wealthy family. We all know what disaster will appear during their love.
16. Only the Brave (2017)
The action takes place in the small provincial town of Prescott, located in Arizona. A group of forest firefighters working for more than one year is preparing hard for certification. Getting the highest level will make brave guys an elite team that has the opportunity to work throughout the country. For Eric Marsh, team leader, this certification is crucial. However, the man takes in the team slobbering Brendan, who decides to take up his mind and establish his own life, having learned that his ex-girlfriend is expecting a child. At this moment, our heroes have no idea what they will encounter in the near future.
17. The Perfect Storm (2000)
William Tyne (George Clooney), captain of the Andrea Gail fishing boat, suffers a series of setbacks, returning many times without a decent catch. Not only his financial income depends on this, the captain’s pride is hurt. Tyne decides to go further than usual, to a place famous for a large abundance of fish. This time, the catch is fame. The team comes back with big money, but on the way back, a real disaster awaits them ‒ three storms, combined into one. The perfect storm. All rescue operations turn into failure, and the team appears face to face with their fate. There are no Perfect Storm similar movies.
The film is based on the real events of 1991. Some scenes were shot in a real storm to get the most realistic picture. An atmospheric and emotional picture, after which you want to go to the nearest store, buy a plaid shirt, a pack of cigarettes, and go at a speed of 12 knots towards sunset.
18. The Wave (2015)
On the eve of his departure from a small mountain settlement, Geiranger, along with his wife and two children, an experienced geologist Christian Eikfjörd receives from his colleagues alarming data that several sensors are behaving strangely, and the groundwater level suddenly fell sharply. Without attaching special importance to this, geologists make a fatal mistake, because at that moment they did not know that such a deviation from the norm was due to a strong tectonic shift, which resulted in the collapse of the rock mass into the water, which caused a tsunami with a wave height of eighty meters. Christian understands that the inhabitants of the village have about ten minutes left to try to escape from the death wave. There are no such movies like The Wave.
Together with the daughter, our hero tries to get to his wife and son as soon as possible, but instantly he is horrified to realize that in the resulting turmoil and general panic, he does not have time to reach them in such a short time, nor does he manage to get out of the death trap himself.
19. K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
The film takes place in the midst of the Cold War. In the early 60s of the last century, the best engineering minds of the Soviet Union created a super-timely nuclear submarine carrying nuclear weapons on board. Commander is appointed captain Alexei Vostrikov. As an experienced naval officer, he decides to test the capabilities of the new ship, and at the same time to see what to expect from subordinates in extreme conditions.
During the sailing, a breakdown occurs, which leads to a malfunction of the reactor cooling system. Crew members manage to mount backup cooling, which prevents them from exploding. However, soon there will be another leak of radiation, and to everything else, due to a breakdown, the boat loses connection with the land. The crew is waiting for another serious test, which may cost them health, and maybe even life.
20. Airport (1970)
The action takes place in a fictional international airport, A. Lincoln. The snowstorm paralyzed the work of ground services, flights are canceled, a Mexican airline liner blocked the runway, airport manager Mel Bakersfield has to call on all his professionalism to help to avoid collapse.
Mel, a former military pilot who was fired after being injured during the Korean War, knows firsthand how to deal with emergency situations. Only thanks to his heroic actions and ability to organize his team escapes tragedy.
Compared to modern films full of special effects, “Airport” may seem somewhat outdated, but this adaptation is attractive, which makes it possible to compare their ideas about what they read with how the authors of the picture see it.
21. Airplane (1980)
In the center of the plot is a passenger plane, where everyone got unexpectedly poisoned, and there is simply no one to operate it. The only person on board who is capable of at least something to do is Ted Stryker, the former boyfriend of flight attendant Elaine.
Before the flight, the girl splits him, but he buys a ticket for her plane to prove that he is not a coward. Ted is trying to land the liner, but he is constantly disturbed by the memories of the war and how he caused the death of his squadron.
22. San Francisco (1936)
Blake Norton is an arrogant dandy ‒ the owner of a notorious nightclub. Mary Blake, who came from a province that despaired of finding work, visits his bar. He agrees to take her as a singer, and after hearing how she sings, concludes a contract with her. But the girl dreams of a different career, she wants to sing in the opera of San Francisco and inspire parishioners by singing in the choir of priest Tim Mullin. Norton does everything so Mary works only for him. It requires exclusive fulfillment of the contract from the girl. To the indignation of Norton, the law is on Mary’s side, she has the right to independently decide how to live. Despite the erupted mutual feeling and preparations for the wedding, they quarrel over Mary’s desire to perform in the opera. The movie tells about the city after its devastation during the 1906 earthquake.
23. Contagion (2011)
An unknown deadly virus spreads with great speed all over the planet. A group of doctors from around the world tries to prevent a global catastrophe. The epidemic began after Thomas Emhoff turned to the hospital for help, whose wife was infected with an unknown virus and is dying in front of his eyes. A simple touch is enough to transmit the virus from one person to another. Soon a mass epidemic begins, and the doctors do not even have the slightest guess how to deal with the infection. In a very short time, the virus takes the lives of a quarter of the world’s population.
COVID 19 now is considered to be not so bad 🙂
24. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Traveling on a huge liner Poseidon becomes a real tragedy for passengers and crew when a sudden sea wave turns the ship upside down. Hundreds of dead and only a small group of people manages to survive in this chaos, making their way into compartments not yet flooded with water. Survivors will have to gather all their will into a fist, because they have to survive for several hours, being on the verge of life and death.
25. Melancholia (2011)
Apocalyptic drama from the brilliant director Lars von Trier shot in the tradition of an art-house. Celebrating Justine and Michael’s wedding is in full swing. Everything is in the best traditions of this day: the bride in a luxurious dress, congratulatory toasts, a huge wedding cake. But at one point, the celebration is saddened by the fact that soon the planet Earth will collide with another planet called Melancholy, which will lead to a global catastrophe. Justin depresses the idea of an impending doomsday. However, the closer the end becomes, the more the girl realizes the meaning of life.
26. Miracle Mile (1988)
An unusual film called “Miracle Mile” becomes a sensitive conductor of dramatic feelings and experiences of the main characters. They only met and fell in love with each other without memory. But suddenly, in one moment, everything changed.
Once, being late for a date with his girlfriend, Harry Wachelaw runs into a cafe to have a bite to eat, before a long journey. And by chance, on the machine he picks up the phone in a telephone booth. What he hears is at first amused, but then plunges into real horror and fear. The interlocutor on the other end of the wire claims that an hour later a nuclear war will unleash. He is very convincing and is able to give irrefutable arguments. And in order to live, this remaining time with her beloved Harry goes to her, full of emotions and anxiety, at the same time, happy to understand that thanks to an accidental call, he will spend the last minutes with his bride.
Throughout the film, there is a clear awareness of how precious those happy moments spent with our beloved and dear people are priceless, and what it is worth cherishing, without exception, every precious minute filled with love and tenderness.
27. A Night to Remember (1958)
The largest crash of a passenger liner in the history of mankind is still, despite the fact that more than a century has passed, covered with secrets and myths. It is only known for certain that this was a turning point in the fate of many. A tragedy, the history of which many tried to film, but one of the first was Alfred Hitchcock’s most talented assistant ‒ Roy Ward Baker. Despite the lack of vivid special effects, the picture is the bridge that leads us into the past, allowing you to see all the events with your own eyes and experience together with the main characters. Particular interest in viewing the picture is the fact that during the installation of the scenery, one of the consultants was none other than the fourth surviving Titanic officer Joseph Boxhall. Stars of the 60s ‒ Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ace, and many others managed to compensate for all the shortcomings of cinema in the mid-twentieth century with their play. Thanks to them, the death of the Titanic took its rightful place in the collection of cinema fans of many generations.
28. The Birds (1963)
The Birds is one of Hitchcock’s best creations, a movie that has become a classic and an example to follow, and yet still relevant. As always, the master does not need special effects, monsters, and fountains of blood ‒ he just shows that the most familiar things sometimes turn into a real nightmare. The human essence, nature, and His Majesty the occasion ‒ and the simplest plot turns into an exciting story, from which it is impossible to tear oneself away. The movie “The Birds” throws many into shivers and, perhaps, having watched it, you will be looking cautiously into the sky for a long time to come. We are accustomed to considering ourselves giants who have subjugated nature and look at our smaller brothers with condescension, forgetting that even an ordinary city pigeon can become a dangerous monster. We don’t think about the huge number of birds surrounding us with powerful solid beaks and predatory claws, which you can’t hide from. But it all starts so beautifully and even funny. It’s a clear day, a good mood, the main characters accidentally meet, ironically, in a store where they sell little cute birds.
29. The Towering Inferno (1974)
Architect Doug Roberts is invited to the opening of the world’s tallest skyscraper designed by him. Invitations were sent to 400 guests, including prominent politicians, show business stars, media representatives. The celebration will be held on the 135th floor of the building.
On the eve of the festive event, Roberts receives information that the building was made with gross violations. The construction corporation, responsible for the power supply of the building, did not perform the calculations of electric networks taking into account all risk factors.
The organizers of the grand opening of the skyscraper ignite the external and internal illumination, but the electrical networks are not designed for such a load. The head of the construction corporation is aware of the problem, but in order to avoid hype in the press, fearing to lose the image of a reliable partner, decides not to inform the organizers of the celebration.
30. Impossible (2012)
The film is based on real events. In 2004, a massive earthquake struck the Indian Ocean that caused the tsunami that hit the Thai coast. Hundreds of thousands of people became victims of the water. The tape was shot by the Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona. The main roles were played by Hollywood actors Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.
The destruction effect here was created using full-size decorations, miniatures, real water, as well as using computer graphics. Work on the episode was organized as follows. Before the start, the filmmakers conducted a series of test shots in the tank to determine the external effect of the destruction. Samples were carried out on a miniature scale of 1:50, after which a 1:3 scenery was built to understand the behavior of the wave. The filming pool reached 25 meters in length, 12 in width, and 4 in-depth. The volume of water exceeded one million liters.
The pool was equipped with a system of locks, which discharged water lifted a wave one and a half meters high. The final installation of the painting included miniature models on a 1:3 scale, filming material on the nature of Thailand, a real stream of water, as well as trees and umbrellas created on a computer. Bursts were simulated in RealFlow. A dirty look was given to water with safe paint and color correction. The painting Bayonas fell to the taste of the audience and film critics.
31. San Andreas (2015)
The film contains scenes with both an earthquake and a tsunami. In the story, the hero of Dwayne Johnson saves himself and his family in the midst of millions of crumbling pixels.
Computer graphics, having overwhelmed the film, were created by several large studios. For example, an episode of the San Francisco earthquake was handled by specialists from Hydraulx. The film was the first project of the studio after switching to work in the Houdini software package. All damage was simulated using the Thinking particles tool.
There are no movies like San Andreas in the technological sense. On the set, stuntmen ran and fell, being fixed on ropes. As expected, the city streets of San Francisco were carefully photographed and carefully scanned, which allowed three-dimensional workers to easily solve the problem of reconstructing architecture in 3D.
The giant tsunami was simulated by another eminent studio ‒ Scanline. This initially German company is rightfully considered one of the best in the field of simulation of aquatic environments. Her portfolio includes cooperation with her compatriot Roland Emmerich on the projects “The day after tomorrow” and “2012”. The three-dimensional studio used the in-house software Flowline. But close-ups with the actors on the boat were filmed in a dry pavilion on the model of the vessel installed on a hydraulic controlled platform. San Andreas came out spectacular and noisy. The audience liked it so much that the studio thought about the continuation.
32. Apollo 13 (1995)
The 1970 year. The US is not going to stop space exploration. A team led by astronaut James Lovell (Tom Hanks) goes to the moon. Already on the way, far beyond the boundaries of the Earth’s orbit, there are malfunctions with the Apollo 13 ship. The damage is so critical that returning home becomes almost impossible.
The picture of Oscar-winning Ron Howard “Apollo 13” is distinguished by first-class camera work and editing. Each scene, whether it is the flight control headquarters or the events inside the spacecraft, is recreated with great certainty. The technical moments look so believable that it seems like the metal bolts of the spacesuit just clicked somewhere very close. But apart from carefully recreated details, Apollo 13 is characterized by strong acting and excellent directing.
33. Titanic (1997)
(There is plenty of free space on that piece of wood!!!)
The tragedy of the Titanic, a steamship unique to its time, the first sailing to the ocean, and the last one. The ship collided with a huge iceberg and sank in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Director James Cameron added to this film a story about the love of two young people. They belong to two different worlds: Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) ‒ a tattered man who grew up on the street, and Rosa (Kate Winslet) ‒ an aristocrat engaged to a respected and wealthy businessman, but who does not feel anything to him.
“Titanic” is one of the main love stories in cinema, which unfolds against the backdrop of a large-scale tragedy that hit the whole world. The film even now, after many years, does not lose relevance. In addition to historical events, he touchingly and emotionally talks about feeling so close and understandable to everyone.