Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA, 1978. Avalanche Productions, New World Pictures. Story by Frances Doel, Screenplay by Corey Allen, Gavin Lambert. Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn. Produced by Roger Corman. Music by William Kraft. Production Design by Sharon Compton. Costume Design by Jane Ruhm. Film Editing by Larry Bock, Skip Schoolnik.
Roger Corman decided to get into the disaster movie game and produced this snow-capped thrill-ride on one of the highest budgets his outfit ever lavished on a project (and sadly, lost most of it at the box office). Rock Hudson, looking bloated and bloodshot, plays the owner of a resort in the Colorado mountains who is obsessed with turning his business into the premiere destination for winter vacationers, despite objections from more environmentally-concerned minds. His ex-wife (Mia Farrow, looking pristine) has just shown up on his invitation despite the fact that she has no intention of succumbing to his desire to get back together, instead taking up with a photographer (Robert Forster) who sees signs in the snow that the place is in danger. Ignoring the warnings he is given, Hudson goes ahead with his parties by night and sporting events by day until the inevitable occurs, the mountains give way and deadly currents of snow and ice descend upon the cast, killing many and leaving survivors dangerously stranded and in need of rescue from precarious circumstances.
By the end of the seventies, disaster movies had a formula in place and audiences were likely growing weary of them, generally a human greed vs. natural order plot that very often involves a fractured romantic relationship being tested (in most cases cured) by the couple being put in a situation that outweighs their petty concerns. Neither the script nor Corey Allen’s direction do much to add any life or originality to the cliches, but the special effects are much more impressive than Corman’s audiences were accustomed to, the man who usually made obvious cheap ripoffs of more popular films here creates a film that, at least aesthetically, fits pretty well alongside the other now hilariously bad entries in the genre (Farrow was also in Hurricane the same year, made on a much higher budget and yet not at all superior in quality).
Farrow acts circles around her badly paired co-star, aside from the fact that he looks like her father they have no chemistry thanks to his seeming to have no idea what’s going on. Most enjoyable is veteran actress Jeanette Nolan as Hudson’s mother (despite being only 14 years older than him), a woman who reaches for a cigarette, plays piano and asks for a cocktail after being stranded in the resort by the avalanche, because…why the hell not. It should be a lot more fun, but other than a few choice campy moments and brief indulgences in exploitative sex, it’s boring and silly and never generates the excitement of the airport movies or the Towering Inferno.