If there was one thing that guaranteed bums on seats during the 70s it was disaster films. The undisputed king of the genre was Irwin Allen. But while he sank cruise liners and wreaked havoc in a skyscraper, producer and director Mark Robson went that bit further and reduced Los Angeles to rubble in "Earthquake".
Heading up the stellar cast is the rock solid Charlton Heston whose skills as a construction engineer come in handy as LA sways and buckles when the great 'quake strikes. But as with all other films in the genre there's the torrid love subplot. And Chuck's problems lie in his dead marriage to an alcoholic Ava Gardner whose father just happens to be Heston's boss. Naturally the nearly god-like Chuck has his love needs and the 70s sex siren Genevieve Bujold plays his delectable piece on the side.
Ultimately enmeshed into that subplot are other people whose regular lives form surprisingly strong characters, and are given most of the first half of the film to develop.
But however interesting the players are, the audience is only there to see maximum mayhem and on that score "Earthquake" really delivers. The Oscar-winning visual effects still impress 25 years on and the specially developed 'Sensurround' works a real treat on a home cinema system. The overall effect is mightily epic in scale and is never less than ridiculously entertaining. And the casting of regular star of the "Airport" disaster series, George Kennedy is a real plus. Watch out also for an amusing un-credited cameo by the now sadly departed Walter Matthau as a drunken barfly who sleeps through the whole disaster!