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Directed by Mark Robson
USA 1974

If there was one thing that guaranteed bums on seats during the 70s it was disaster films. The undisputed king of the genre was Irwin Allen. But while he sank cruise liners and wreaked havoc in a skyscraper, producer and director Mark Robson went that bit further and reduced Los Angeles to rubble in "Earthquake".

Heading up the stellar cast is the rock solid Charlton Heston whose skills as a construction engineer come in handy as LA sways and buckles when the great 'quake strikes. But as with all other films in the genre there's the torrid love subplot. And Chuck's problems lie in his dead marriage to an alcoholic Ava Gardner whose father just happens to be Heston's boss. Naturally the nearly god-like Chuck has his love needs and the 70s sex siren Genevieve Bujold plays his delectable piece on the side.

Ultimately enmeshed into that subplot are other people whose regular lives form surprisingly strong characters, and are given most of the first half of the film to develop.

But however interesting the players are, the audience is only there to see maximum mayhem and on that score "Earthquake" really delivers. The Oscar-winning visual effects still impress 25 years on and the specially developed 'Sensurround' works a real treat on a home cinema system. The overall effect is mightily epic in scale and is never less than ridiculously entertaining. And the casting of regular star of the "Airport" disaster series, George Kennedy is a real plus. Watch out also for an amusing un-credited cameo by the now sadly departed Walter Matthau as a drunken barfly who sleeps through the whole disaster!

Excerpt from BBC located HERE


NOTE: When the movie premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 1974, it was shown in "Sensurround" (with heavy bass speakers set on the floor around the theater). During testing, the 1600-watt sound system actually cracked the plaster in the ceiling, so a giant net had to be rigged above the seats to catch any pieces of falling plaster that may have shaken loose during the low bass rumble of earthquake sequences.


Theatrical Release: November 15th, 1974

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DVD Review: Universal - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
70's Disaster Flicks Invasion
Runtime 2:01:52 
Video 2.38:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.67 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Sensurround 3.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English (hoh), French, Spanish, None

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 2.38:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: May 9th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 18



Wow - what an image... Wow - no extras - not even a chapter menu!?

With only a shade of digital noise in the backgrounds this image is sharp as a tack. As good as the recent two other comparative films (The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno) BUT unlike Fox - Universal has absolutely no extra features on this DVD. I am aware another digital edition came out in 2001 but surely this must blow it away in regards to the transfer. Colors, detail, contrast all look quite exceptional. The 'Sensurround" track is nice addition but, of course, it doesn't compare to the real theatrical experience. Subtitles are very good and the 5.1 audio track seems to better compliment viewing. So why no extras? Regretful, but Universal seems to embrace these pragmatic packages. Price is excellent for the impeccable image and sound.

The film is probably the hokiest of the bunch of 70's disaster yarns, but still retains some charm with all the star power. I love a shaking camera translating to a tremor - but with this quality image it was a great time for only $11.    

Gary W. Tooze


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DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
70's Disaster Flicks Invasion


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