Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Corman’s cost-cutting extended to its all-star cast. Whereas Irwin Allen’s THE SWARM, also released in 1978, boasted big names like Michael Caine, Richard Widmark, Fred MacMurray, Olivia de Havilland, and Henry Fonda among its cast, director Corey Allen (THUNDER AND LIGHTNING) had to make do with Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, and Robert Forster, Jeanette Nolan, and Barry Primus — capable performers, for sure, but not among 1978’s most highly sought-after movie stars.
Two-time Oscar nominee Gavin Lambert (INSIDE DAISY CLOVER) took his name off the picture after director Allen reportedly futzed with his screenplay, and neither Hudson nor Farrow deigned to promote the movie when it came out. Corey Allen, with the help of second unit director Lewis Teague (ALLIGATOR), did an okay job with the action sequences and stunts on a tight budget, but the visual effects from the studio of Gene Warren (an Oscar winner for THE TIME MACHINE) look phony and cheap. Irwin Allen made you believe a skyscraper was on fire and a cruise ship had capsized, but nobody watching AVALANCHE could possibly be convinced of a snowbound disaster (which didn’t stop Corman for recycling the effects in other movies).
The human characters are scarcely more convincing than the special effects. David Shelby (Hudson), who’s rich, bossy, and controlling, hopes to rekindle a romance with ex-wife Caroline (Farrow) by inviting her to the opening weekend of his swanky new ski resort in the Colorado mountains. She, on the other hand, is turned on by sensitive nature photographer Nick Thorne (Forster), who warns Shelby that his corner-cutting has made the mountain unstable and unsafe.
Guess who gets to say “I told ya so” when a private plane crashes into the mountain and causes the whole damn thing to tumble down upon Shelby’s lodge. The effects may be lame, but AVALANCHE at least delivers a high body count and some laughable scenes, including an exploding ambulance and two skiers whose foreplay consists entirely of snow-sporting jargon. Rock’s lascivious looks at a nubile temptress in his hot tub is his best acting in the movie.