CulturePulp

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The latest CulturePulp comic strip celebrates the release of Roland Emmerich's mega-disaster-movie "2012" -- by giving readers a step-by-step recipe for crafting their own apocalyptic soap operas. Beware the Lava Tornado!


Endnotes & Digressions:

1. Words, pencils and inks by Mike Russell; inks and colors by Bill Mudron.

2. In possibly related news, Roland Emmerich's disaster-movie spectacular "2012" opens today (Friday the 13th, 2009) in theaters everywhere. (My Oregonian colleague Marc Mohan didn't like it very much, but I thought it was so over-the-top that it became kind of stupidly awesome. But then I have a soft spot for disaster cheese. See endnote #4.)

3. If you'd like a print-rez, stand-alone version of that "Lava Tornado!" movie poster, you can download that bad boy right here: [ JPEG ] [ PDF ]

(If you tack it up somewhere, by all means feel free to e-mail me a photo.)

4. Readers may be interested to learn that the rooster in the above comic is an actual disaster-movie reference. He appears in 1980's trash classic "When Time Ran Out..." -- simultaneously one of the best and worst disaster movies ever made. (Here's a review of the film at CoolCinemaTrash.com.)

Strictly speaking, "When Time Ran Out..." is pretty dismal: Producer Irwin Allen's last big-screen outing is a cheap-looking, small-scale flop about a pair of resort kings (William Holden, James Franciscus) and an oil-driller (Paul Newman) who come to blows when a fake-looking volcano lays waste to an island resort. But the movie also has this weird, soapy charm -- it's like an episode of "Dynasty" where everything bursts into flames -- and in its way, it's the purest distillation of the Irwin Allen formula.

All Allen's disaster-movie elements are here: the lurid love triangles; the ham acting, particularly by James "Lil' Heston" Franciscus; the lousy effects and oddly placed science-fiction elements; and, of course, Ernest Borgnine. And there are some hilariously strange aberrations -- like Pat Morita doing somersaults into a lake of lava, and Alex Karras (that's right, Webster's dad) getting wiped out by a tidal wave while chasing his champion cockfighting rooster around during an earthquake. Plus, Jacqueline Bissett, Veronica Hamel and Barbara Carrera are possibly the three sexiest disaster-movie heroines ever.

Here's a YouTube clip with some "When Time Ran Out..." disaster "highlights" -- including the bit with Karras and that damn rooster.

3 comments:
Dan Hortsch (danhortsch) says: Of course, any such plots, at least those that include a scientist who is the only one who knows of the impending disaster, owe a debt to Henrik Ibsen and his "An Enemy of the People." Which as far as I recall did not include a rooster, and so that is a welcome embellishment.
Bruce Webster (bfwebster) says:

Great summary! I'm sure that the SciFi SyFy Channel has something like this posted in a prominent place in their offices. And did you know that their 'world premiere' movie last Saturday night was "Ice Twisters". No, really. 

Just out of curiosity, did you write this before you saw "2012"?

Mike Russell (culturepulp) says:

Actually, I did write this comic before I saw "2012." Mostly, I was thinking of "Earthquake" and "When Time Ran Out..." Mr. Emmerich has digested the '70s disaster-movie formula rather thoroughly.

(I don't have cable, and just after this was published a friend told me about the SyFy originals "Ice Twisters" and "Disaster Area: Volcano in New York," and also about the impending "Metal Tornado." I can't wait to watch them all.)

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Mike Russell is a film writer and cartoonist living in Portland, OR. ... full profile