The art of the great catastrophe movie

Lately I have been spending a lot of time subjected to the cruel and unusual torture that is daytime TV, courtesy of a mysterious and still unidentified infection that turned me into a living, breathing (and aching) giant strawberry. These unfortunate circumstances had only one advantage: they allowed me to indulge in two of my many guilty pleasures, knitting and catastrophe movies.

Now some of you may wonder why I wasn’t using all this spare time to catch up on my blogging and therefore feed your unnatural and quite frankly unhealthy addiction to my pointless drivel? Why indeed? Well, it’s quite simple: the monster that was ailing me had, not content with swelling my face up and making all my joints feel like they belonged to an 80 year-old, turned my poor long-suffering brain to a stodgy porridge-like mush. Even adding honey was to no avail, it just made my ears rather sticky. The only writing I was capable of producing was a stream of pitiful complaints on Twitter, looking for sympathy 140 characters at a time.

Anyhoo, back to today’s subject du jour. I love bad catastrophe movies. Not just any old catastrophe movie, bad ones specifically (not that there are many of any other kind). Because they are just so bad, sometimes so incredibly, unbelievably bad, that they are just great in their badness. So bad they’re badass.

Killer meteor showers and giant asteroids, volcanoes – hell, supervolcanoes! – erupting all over the place, earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves, sudden instant earth-flipping pole inversion…  Hell, maybe even all at once. And sometimes, they even make it into big Hollywood budgets, studios and cinemas, but mostly, they are cheaply made and go straight to your TV.

The latest truly greatly bad one I saw was called Solar Flare. It had everything you could possibly wish for in a bad catastrophe movie: bad science, bad acting, bad dialogue, terrible special effects. But this movie went above and beyond. It had astrophysicists in white lab coats in a lab with test tubes. Astrophysicists. Seriously. It had background music that belonged in a soft porn movie. And most of all, it was riddled with that ultimate element of all truly bad movies: the montage, inserted at suitably heart-wrenching, tear-jerking moments and intended, I suspect, to induce Niagara falls-type weeping. Oh the joy!

Of course, it was graced with the presence of that special breed of actors, the ones you almost always have to go and look up on the IMDB before you work out where the hell you have seen them before. You know the ones, the kind who played a minor character in a series you used to watch about 20 years ago and haven’t really done anything of note since. This time it the star of the show was “her, you know, that girl off of… what was it called again? That thing with the doctor… Ahhh, what was it called! Growing Pains, yes, that’s it!”.

Seriously, you should try it some time, you will, I promise, get more belly laughs out of a good bad catastrophe movie than you will out of any Ben Stiller movie.  And if you want the truly, truly bad ones, head straight for Sci-Fi, they have the very best of the worst!


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