Sunday, April 23, 2017

Movie review - "Avalanche" (1978) **1/2

You can't blame AIP and Roger Corman for being a little annoyed at the cycle of disaster movies - for years they'd been the ones doing exploitation, then along come the studios having a go at schlocky product, with studio production values. And because it was the studios, with extra financial resources, they couldn't compete.

Accordingly, both AIP and Corman waited a while before dipping their toes in disaster water, and neither did that well out of it - AIP with Meteor, Corman's New World with this. This doesn't have a great reputation but I kind of liked it.

It helps in that the cast includes Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow and Robert Forster - all three are strong actors, elevating the material. The support cast is decent too - and for all the New World cheapness, it does have impressive production values: the alpine setting, scenes of skiing and skating and chairlifts, and the avalanche stuff is done with quick fire editing.

They get around the budget restrictions by having lots of one and two handers - a man and boy stuck up a chair lift, Rock Hudson's mum and an associate trapped. Apparently the film was meant to have a bigger budget and it was cut... I felt it would have worked better had they gone in knowing it was going to be low budget and scripted accordingly. The script doesn't feel quite up to it - its written to be on a large canvas (the opening of a resort), but can't deliver on the promise. And it's a shame John Sayles couldn't have had a go - I feel he would've liked it, with the novelty of the alpine setting, and an ecology message. There were a lot of frustrating loose ends - I wish Hudson had more of a comeuppance and Farrow had more to do, the plot about bribery seemed to be forgotten.

Having said that, there is some decent drama with Hudson trying to woo back his ex Farrow, who is attracted to Forster. There's a pants man skier, chasing after everyone; a suicidal skater (knocked off by snow has she goes to kill herself - this was very effective); a moving sequence of a kid and adult stuck up a chair lift. The acting as mentioned is good, and the pace is lively. Mia Farrow, very pretty, has enjoyable chemistry with Forster - both seem to genuinely like each other.

No classic but not as bad as it's reputation

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