The golden age of disaster movies

by fiasko1 | created - 31 Mar 2012 | updated - 02 Mar 2013 | Public

Everyone knows the classic 1970s disaster films such as The Towering Inferno, Earthquake & The Poseidon Adventure but what about the lesser known films. Here I try to list disaster films / people in peril / when nature attacks type films from the late 60s to early 80s, surely the "golden age" of disaster movies. I grew up in this era seeing many of these of TV and being at the age were I found them pretty scary, I therefore have very fond memories of this genre and era.

I've added links to Youtube if the whole film is on there (some are in parts), none of the youtube clips are uploaded by me & if you're reading this months or years after I started the list then chances are that the Youtube links will be dead.

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1. The Towering Inferno (1974)

PG | 165 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

69 Metascore

At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it.

Director: John Guillermin | Stars: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway

Votes: 33,767 | Gross: $116.00M

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIN-gf4uO-A[/link]

2. Earthquake (1974)

PG | 123 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Various interconnected people struggle to survive when an earthquake of unimaginable magnitude hits Los Angeles, California.

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene

Votes: 11,782 | Gross: $79.70M

[link]http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1539DD9D46AA30E9&feature=plcp[/link]

3. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

PG | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons

Votes: 36,012 | Gross: $84.56M

4. Airport (1970)

G | 137 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

42 Metascore

A bomber on board an airplane, an airport almost closed by snow, and various personal problems of the people involved.

Directors: George Seaton, Henry Hathaway | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, George Kennedy, Jean Seberg

Votes: 14,867 | Gross: $100.49M

5. The Swarm (1978)

PG | 116 min | Horror, Thriller

A huge swarm of deadly African bees spreads terror over American cities by killing thousands of people.

Director: Irwin Allen | Stars: Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain

Votes: 5,818 | Gross: $10.00M

6. When Time Ran Out... (1980)

PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

An active volcano threatens a south Pacific island resort and its guests as a power struggle ensues between the property's developer and a drilling foreman.

Director: James Goldstone | Stars: Paul Newman, Jacqueline Bisset, William Holden, Edward Albert

Votes: 2,161 | Gross: $1.70M

[link]http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE7518E02C0625B4A&feature=plpp[/link]

7. Meteor (1979)

PG | 108 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

The USA must join forces with the USSR in order to destroy a gigantic asteroid heading straight for Earth.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Brian Keith

Votes: 5,821

8. City on Fire (1979)

R | 106 min | Action, Drama

A pyromaniac, ex-employee of a city oil refinery creates an explosion at the facility which starts a chain-reaction of fires that engulf the entire city.

Director: Alvin Rakoff | Stars: Barry Newman, Susan Clark, Shelley Winters, Leslie Nielsen

Votes: 776

Watch the whole movie here - [link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6-eG2E2fT4[/link]

9. Avalanche (1978)

PG | 91 min | Action, Drama

The vacationers at a winter wonderland struggle to survive after an avalanche of snow crashes into their ski resort. Their holiday then turns into a game of survival.

Director: Corey Allen | Stars: Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, Robert Forster, Jeanette Nolan

Votes: 1,384

Watch the whole movie here - [link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__B_qZzN8WE[/link]

10. Two-Minute Warning (1976)

R | 115 min | Drama, Thriller

A psychotic sniper plans a massive killing spree in a Los Angeles football stadium during a major championship game. The police, led by Captain Peter Holly and SWAT commander Sergeant ... See full summary »

Director: Larry Peerce | Stars: Charlton Heston, John Cassavetes, Martin Balsam, Beau Bridges

Votes: 2,799

11. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

G | 131 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A group of scientists investigate a deadly new alien virus before it can spread.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: James Olson, Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid

Votes: 28,850

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wajIliPFHk4&feature=related[/link]

12. The Day After (1983 TV Movie)

Unrated | 127 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

The effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.

Director: Nicholas Meyer | Stars: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg, John Cullum

Votes: 12,063

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2B7sdLPMfc[/link]

13. Rollercoaster (1977)

PG | 119 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A blackmailer threatens to sabotage roller coasters at various American amusement parks if he isn't paid a huge ransom.

Director: James Goldstone | Stars: George Segal, Timothy Bottoms, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda

Votes: 4,851

14. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

PG | 97 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

In rural Arizona, countless killer tarantulas are migrating through a farm town, killing every living thing in their path. The town's veterinarian will do everything in his power to survive the onslaught.

Director: John 'Bud' Cardos | Stars: William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode, Lieux Dressler

Votes: 3,770 | Gross: $17.00M

Whole movie - [link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXdBBDg57Pg[/link]

15. Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (1983 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 115 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

On the maiden flight of the first hypersonic commercial plane which can make the flight from New York City to London in four hours, a minor disaster occurs resulting in the plane actually ... See full summary »

Director: Jerry Jameson | Stars: Lee Majors, Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland

Votes: 741

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFTFkJITdxw[/link]

16. Juggernaut (1974)

PG | 109 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A blackmailer demands a huge ransom in exchange for information on how to disarm the seven bombs he placed aboard the transatlantic liner Britannic.

Director: Richard Lester | Stars: Richard Harris, Omar Sharif, David Hemmings, Anthony Hopkins

Votes: 4,181

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcJAQYJ-5ss[/link]

17. Crack in the World (1965)

Not Rated | 96 min | Sci-Fi

A dying scientist pushes forward his project to tap through to the Earth's magma layer, with results that threaten to destroy the Earth as we know it.

Director: Andrew Marton | Stars: Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore, Alexander Knox

Votes: 1,697

18. Skyjacked (1972)

PG | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A crazed Vietnam vet bomber hijacks a Boeing 707 in this disaster film filled with the usual early '70s stereotypes, and demands to be taken to Russia.

Director: John Guillermin | Stars: Charlton Heston, James Brolin, Yvette Mimieux, Claude Akins

Votes: 1,440

19. No Blade of Grass (1970)

R | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

When a deadly virus strikes London, John Custance takes his family to hoped-for safety in Scotland.

Director: Cornel Wilde | Stars: Nigel Davenport, Jean Wallace, John Hamill, Lynne Frederick

Votes: 1,078

20. Flood (1976 TV Movie)

100 min | Adventure

After several weeks of heavy rainfall, the dam above Brownsville is ready to burst. But the town's mayor refuses to open its gates - paving the way for disaster.

Director: Earl Bellamy | Stars: Robert Culp, Martin Milner, Barbara Hershey, Richard Basehart

Votes: 305

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA0mHJBY8ME[/link]

21. Fire (1977 TV Movie)

100 min | Drama, Action

A convict starts a fire in a forest to cover his escape, but the fire goes out of control and threatens to destroy a small mountain community.

Director: Earl Bellamy | Stars: Ernest Borgnine, Vera Miles, Patty Duke, Alex Cord

Votes: 201

trailer [link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAUErVRv0-E[/link]

22. Piranha (1978)

R | 94 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn

Votes: 15,818 | Gross: $6.00M

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u77drr55Q8[/link]

23. Black Sunday (1977)

R | 143 min | Drama, Thriller

Black Sunday is the powerful story of a Black September terrorist group attempting to blow up a Goodyear blimp hovering over the Super Bowl stadium with 80,000 people and the president of the United States in attendance.

Director: John Frankenheimer | Stars: Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver

Votes: 5,778 | Gross: $15.77M

24. Airport 1975 (1974)

PG | 107 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A 747 in flight collides with a small plane, and is rendered pilotless. Somehow the control tower must get a pilot aboard so the jet can land.

Director: Jack Smight | Stars: Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Votes: 8,073 | Gross: $47.29M

25. Airport '77 (1977)

PG | 114 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Art thieves hijack a 747, hit fog and crash into the ocean, trapping them and the passengers under one hundred feet of water.

Director: Jerry Jameson | Stars: Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland

Votes: 8,100 | Gross: $30.00M

26. The Concorde... Airport '79 (1979)

PG | 113 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

American based Federation World Airlines has just acquired a Concorde jet, which will make its inaugural commercial flight from Washington, D.C. to Paris, and then to Moscow as a goodwill ... See full summary »

Director: David Lowell Rich | Stars: Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner, George Kennedy

Votes: 4,633 | Gross: $13.00M

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzT1RmgzK9Q[/link]

27. Jaws (1975)

PG | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

87 Metascore

A local sheriff, a marine biologist and an old seafarer team up to hunt down a great white shark wrecking havoc in a beach resort.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary

Votes: 479,686 | Gross: $260.00M

28. The Medusa Touch (1978)

PG | 105 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Psychological thriller about a novelist, a telekinetic, who causes disasters simply by thinking about them.

Director: Jack Gold | Stars: Richard Burton, Lee Remick, Lino Ventura, Harry Andrews

Votes: 4,506

29. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

PG | 114 min | Action, Adventure

Adventurers return to the overturned ship, seeking a fortune.

Director: Irwin Allen | Stars: Michael Caine, Sally Field, Telly Savalas, Peter Boyle

Votes: 4,100

30. The China Syndrome (1979)

PG | 122 min | Drama, Thriller

81 Metascore

A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

Director: James Bridges | Stars: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Scott Brady

Votes: 22,872 | Gross: $51.72M

31. The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

R | 129 min | Drama, Thriller

Passengers on a European train have been exposed to a deadly disease. Nobody will let them off the train. So what happens next?

Director: George P. Cosmatos | Stars: Sophia Loren, Richard Harris, Martin Sheen, O.J. Simpson

Votes: 6,133

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6_JHm6rz50&list=UUyYS_6O3x1Wvz0_tGNByUJQ&index=13&feature=plpp_video[/link]

32. Alligator (1980)

R | 91 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded laboratory rats injected with growth hormones. The small reptile grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage.

Director: Lewis Teague | Stars: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo, Dean Jagger

Votes: 8,860

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JpSrG1S4D4[/link]

33. Gray Lady Down (1978)

PG | 111 min | Adventure, Drama, History

A Navy Captain uses his experimental Snark to reach a nuclear submarine stuck on an ocean ledge.

Director: David Greene | Stars: Charlton Heston, David Carradine, Stacy Keach, Ned Beatty

Votes: 2,297

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKQA5mQfguw[/link]

34. Special Bulletin (1983 TV Movie)

103 min | Drama

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC... See full summary »

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Ed Flanders, Kathryn Walker, Roxanne Hart, Christopher Allport

Votes: 859

35. The Night the Bridge Fell Down (1983 TV Movie)

180 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A group of random individuals get stranded on a bridge that begins collapsing at both ends. Not only that, but there's a gun-wielding bank robber using the bridge as his means of escape ... See full summary »

Director: Georg Fenady | Stars: James MacArthur, Desi Arnaz Jr., Char Fontane, Richard Gilliland

Votes: 77

36. Hanging by a Thread (1979 TV Movie)

190 min | Drama, Adventure

A group of old friends on an outing re-live various traumas and tragedies via flashback whilst trapped high above a ravine in a disabled cable-car.

Director: Georg Fenady | Stars: Sam Groom, Patty Duke, Joyce Bulifant, Oliver Clark

Votes: 63

37. Cave In! (1983 TV Movie)

120 min | Drama

A group of strangers become entrapped in a cave after it collapses. A fugitive among them claims a hostage as leverage for means of escape.

Director: Georg Fenady | Stars: Dennis Cole, Susan Sullivan, Leslie Nielsen, Julie Sommars

Votes: 101

38. Ants! (1977 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 95 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

An old-fashioned, lakeside hotel targeted for purchase by an unsavory gambling casino promoter and situated next to a construction site, is attacked by an army of poisonous ants. Efforts to... See full summary »

Director: Robert Scheerer | Stars: Robert Foxworth, Lynda Day George, Gerald Gordon, Bernie Casey

Votes: 851

39. Flight to Holocaust (1977 TV Movie)

100 min | Drama, Action

A team of troubleshooters is called to a skyscraper where a plane has crashed into the 20th floor and is stuck in the side of the building.

Director: Bernard L. Kowalski | Stars: Patrick Wayne, Christopher Mitchum, Fawne Harriman, Desi Arnaz Jr.

Votes: 50

40. Day of the Animals (1977)

PG | 97 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A battle for survival ensues after a group of hikers encounters a chemically imbalanced forest.

Director: William Girdler | Stars: Christopher George, Leslie Nielsen, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel

Votes: 1,670

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rljvDTl_FU4[/link]

41. Condominium (1980– )

240 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

The hilarious and at times emotional and eye-opening lives of several condo residents are brought out when a dangerous hurricane hits Florida.

Stars: Barbara Eden, Dan Haggerty, Steve Forrest, Ana Alicia

Votes: 93

42. Crash (1978 TV Movie)

95 min | Drama

On December 29, 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashes into the Florida Everglades, resulting in 101 fatalities.

Director: Barry Shear | Stars: William Shatner, Adrienne Barbeau, Brooke Bundy, Christopher Connelly

Votes: 172

43. St. Helens (1981)

PG | 90 min | Adventure, Drama

Dramatization of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The movie begins with the volcano's awakening on March 20 and ends with its eruption on May 18, 1980.

Director: Ernest Pintoff | Stars: Art Carney, David Huffman, Cassie Yates, Albert Salmi

Votes: 401

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8ytlwU3uEo[/link]

44. The Savage Bees (1976 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 90 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

The festive fun of the annual Mardi Gras celebration is brought to a halt when a swarm of African killer bees escape from a foreign freighter.

Director: Bruce Geller | Stars: Ben Johnson, Michael Parks, Paul Hecht, Gretchen Corbett

Votes: 390

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Pn2MWeHWc[/link]

45. Terror Out of the Sky (1978 TV Movie)

97 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

This TV sequel to "The Savage Bees" features more rampaging insects. This time a marching band and a school bus get in the path of the bees.

Director: Lee H. Katzin | Stars: Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Dan Haggerty, Tovah Feldshuh, Lonny Chapman

Votes: 242

46. The Deadly Tower (1975 TV Movie)

100 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

The infamous story of Charles Whitman, "America's favourite sniper" (in Stephen King's words), is told here once again.

Director: Jerry Jameson | Stars: Kurt Russell, Richard Yniguez, Ned Beatty, Pernell Roberts

Votes: 813

47. The Doomsday Flight (1966 TV Movie)

Approved | 93 min | Thriller

A bomb on board an airliner has an altitude-sensitive trigger. Unless a ransom is paid, it will explode when the plane descends to land.

Director: William A. Graham | Stars: Edward Asner, Howard Caine, Richard Carlson, Katherine Crawford

Votes: 182

48. The Day the Earth Moved (1974 TV Movie)

75 min | Drama

A team taking aerial photographs of the desert deduces that an earthquake is about to strike a nearby town, but nobody in the town believes them.

Director: Robert Michael Lewis | Stars: Jackie Cooper, Stella Stevens, Cleavon Little, William Windom

Votes: 160

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_3zmx1jxIA[/link]

49. Hurricane (1974 TV Movie)

74 min | Drama

Two hurricane hunters track a huge, violent hurricane that is bearing down on a Gulf Coast town.

Director: Jerry Jameson | Stars: Larry Hagman, Martin Milner, Jessica Walter, Barry Sullivan

Votes: 143

[link]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFWt25oRWpQ[/link]

50. Survive! (1976)

R | 85 min | Drama, Thriller