Growing up in the 70s / 80s, they used to make big budget disaster movies, with a cast of all-stars. Movies like “Airport”, “The Towering Inferno”, and the “Poseidon Adventure” did great in the box-office, and then became staples of the 4:30 Movie. I must have seen these movies multiple times and still enjoyed them every time. But once special effect started to take off with movies like “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, the era and allurer of the campy disaster movie faded away. Sure they continue to make big budget disaster movies to this day, with movies such as “2012”, “Twister” and “Independence Day”, and while they are entertaining, they lack the spirit and authenticity of the older movies
I call this the “Planet of the Apes” or “Star Trek: The Original Series” syndrome. When you watch the original classic “Planet of the Apes”, its obvious that the apes are actors with makeup, but you don’t really care. The planets that Kirk and company beam down to on Star Trek are obviously set pieces, but again you don’t really care. You get sucked into the story and your imagination takes over. In contrast, with the remakes of the “Planet of the Apes” and the reboot of “Star Trek” they look cool but the special effects tend to make things feel less real, and in turn you get a total different feeling. I believe that is why the older movies hold up so well, and you really care about the characters, while the later movies with tons of characters and special effects to me just feel cold and disconnected at times.
Looking back, in both the “Poseidon Adventure”, and “The Towering Inferno”, when somebody dies, you really feel it and remember it. Who did not get emotional with Shelly Winters died after swimming through the wreckage. Or when Richard Chamberlain kicks people off the cable car and then dies himself when the cable breaks. Yes its campy but it feels real and I will take that over newer special effects.
Here is a article about the 50th Anniversary of “The Poseidon Adventure” which gave me the thought to write this post.