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  Avalanche Crushing Defeat
Year: 1978
Director: Corey Allen
Stars: Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, Robert Forster, Jeanette Nolan, Rick Moses, Steve Franken, Barry Primus, Cathey Paine, Jerry Douglas, Antony Carbone, Peggy Browne, Pat Egan, Joby Baker, X Brands, Cindy Luedke, John Cathey, Angelo Lamonea, Cindy Perpiche
Genre: Drama, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Caroline Brace (Mia Farrow) arrives at this Colorado ski resort built by her ex-husband David Shelby (Rock Hudson), his pet project he has poured all his money into. When she checks in, she is unsure whether to use her married name or her original one, and settles on the original, but outside taking a look around as champion skier Bruce Scott (Rick Moses) appears with his entourage and fans, she notices David standing at the window of his office and tentatively waves to him. He is delighted to see her, for he is still in love with her though those feelings were always met with misgivings on her side, and soon as Caroline is meeting him again he hopes to rekindle their relationship...

And what better to bring two people together than a great, big avalanche? Disaster movies were big business in the nineteen-seventies, but come the end of the decade producers were running out of subject matter and growing increasingly desperate. The formula was simple: collect a group of actors, hopefully with some star value (Robert Forster was the second lead here, a nature photographer who gets his worst fears confirmed), and place them in peril that not all of their characters will survive. Now the ideas were running out, which is why you got the Master of Disaster Irwin Allen resorting to killer bees in The Swarm and a Poseidon Adventure sequel, and Sean Connery was negotiating a vast asteroid - Mia Farrow even had another go after this in The Hurricane.

That was no more successful than most of these at the tail end of the craze, yet you might have expected famed B-movie producer Roger Corman to have his finger on the pulse, only Avalanche wasn't a hit either, critics and audiences alike turning their noses up at the prospect of seeing Rock Hudson buried under styrofoam. Naturally, for cult movie fans, especially fans of cult movies they can laugh at for their absurdities, this was ideal viewing, and despite its TV movie of the week appearance, no matter it was one of Corman's biggest productions, there was some entertainment in watching the folks populating the hotel find their problems are rather petty when a six million tons of snow are heading their way with no means of stopping it. Add such random scenes as a snowmobile fight to the apparent death or bed-hopping for titillation (and double entendre) purposes and you had, well, you had this.

Director Corey Allen had made his name as an actor, but by this stage was at the helm of countless television episodes, which might explain the overall soap opera tone. Nevertheless, the Corman influence was present so there were trashier aspects which rendered this more amusing, such as gratuitous nudity (in a PG rated movie - that's seventies PG, which was stronger stuff than the equivalent today) and a bloodthirsty, even more callous than usual approach to dispatching the victims. Before that was a selection of scenes where the stars went through their paces in a collection of storylines that had no conclusion, nor even an attempt at one in some cases (how did Mia get out of the cabin she shared with Robert for a fling?), and therefore no point in audience investment: after all, it didn't matter a jot what happened to them in the first half of the movie before disaster struck.

That was because the titular event was going to wipe their cares away by replacing them with a very big care instead. You could get philososphical about this and muse over fickle fate, but really it was just simplistic plotting that failed to offer us much to chew on until the Lewis Teague-directed action began, admittedly the best part of the movie, especially Moses, or his stunt double, trying to outski the calamity which is some kind of divine retribution for his womanising. The shot of the figure skater so intent on pulling off a difficult move at the big contest that she is obliviously engulfed in the process was less impressive, and there were a lot more silly parts like that, including the "Will this do?" climax involving an exploding ambulance, well, they had to end it somehow and another avalanche was straining credibility. OK, it was straining the budget. Hudson and Farrow did their best not to look too sappy, but failed, leaving regular laughs at the movie tying itself in knots to be as dramatically resonant as it could, the old mankind versus nature conflct wheeled out again. Music by William Kraft.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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