70s Rewind: EARTHQUAKE, My Favorite Disaster Porn

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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Before I knew anything about human sexuality, I had become far too intimate with disaster porn.

That's because I grew up in the 1970s, when disaster movies fornicated freely with all-star casts and state-of-the-art special effects to deliver orgasms of simulated viewing delight to audience members. Of course, this was long before the era of 24-hour news networks and the internet, so all I knew about natural disasters what was the local newspapers, my parents, and personal experience had taught me, namely, that they were all bad and life-threatening.

Yet the movie equivalents were utterly fascinating because they ventured into virgin territory, which may be why they remain so vivid in my memory, and perhaps make recent efforts like this week's San Andreas pale by comparison. One in particular will always hold a special place in my heart.

Earthquake

Early one February morning in 1971, I was awakened by a canvas painting falling off the wall onto my bed. Measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale, the Sylmar earthquake killed some 64 people, caused widespread damage throughout Los Angeles, and left a permanent scar on my psyche.

I became somewhat obsessed with earthquakes, reading every book in the school library on the subject (there were only a few), and even writing a fictional account of an earthquake leveling the school I attended. Needless to say, the 1974 film Earthquake filled me with anticipation and dread. I saw it at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, which was outfitted with the Sensurround process, intended to enhance the low-frequency sounds. (Management also installed netting beneath a large chandelier in the main auditorium, "just in case.")

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1970s Cinema70s RewindCharlton Hestondisaster moviesdisaster pornEarthquake

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  • Ard Vijn

    I love that French poster, where "We Only Need To Translate The Title" actually means having to redesign 99% of the image!

  • marshy00

    Nicely done, Peter. Always enjoyed your nostalgia pieces. I must confess, EARTHQUAKE is one disaster movie from this era that I don't think I've ever seen. After reading this I'm definitely going to seek it out.

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