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Mark Robson
Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy
Writing Credits:
George Fox, Mario Puzo

Various interconnected people struggle to survive when an earthquake of unimaginable magnitude hits Los Angeles.

Box Office:
$7 million.
Domestic Gross
Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DTS 2.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 6/4/2013

• None


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Earthquake [Blu-Ray] (1974)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 6, 2020)

When I wrote my review of The Towering Inferno, I reflected on the historical significance that particular film and the disaster movie genre as a whole held for me as a child. Man, did I adore those movies! Inferno was always number one, but I loved most of them and eagerly flocked to see them.

I remember viewing Earthquake especially vividly because of the amazing technological innovation that accompanied it: something called "Sensurround." While I now know it just uses a bunch of subwoofers spaced around the auditorium to achieve its "earthshaking" effect, I was seven when Earthquake arrived. I didn't know any of that techo-jumble, so it was just something new and amazingly cool.

I liked the movie, too. I'm not sure what this says about me, but I just couldn't get enough of mass destruction. Smashing, crashing, blowing up - you name it, I loved it!

I was somewhat afraid to rewatch Towering Inferno as an adult because I feared the movie would stink and my childhood memories would be shattered. However, I actually liked it quite a bit, and that enjoyment emboldened me to try out some other disaster classics.

Would Earthquake pass muster as well? In a word - well, in two words: God, no!

This movie is thoroughly terrible. I'd say that it really is totally horrible except that seems like an awfully strong statement. While I can't think of anything good about it, I don't want to go to extremes.

As the citizens of Los Angeles go through their daily lives, ominous signs point to a potential natural disaster. Eventually a massive earthquake hits and forces the locals to scramble to survive.

Despite its nearly three-hour length, Inferno managed to build a great sense of tension and suspense, largely because of the imminent menace. The fire just kept going and going. Since it offered a massive cast, its characters were sketchy at best, but they still evoked interest in the audience.

Neither factor becomes true for Earthquake. It follows the same disaster movie formula with its star-studded cast of thousands, but it's a much less interesting story.

Interestingly, Earthquake uses much more time for exposition than did Inferno, despite the fact it boasts a smaller cast and runs 45 minutes shorter. The action heats up about 25 minutes into Inferno, but the quake doesn't hit here until the movie's nearly half-finished.

You'd think that scene would liven things up, but it's really pretty dull, too. It goes on for about ten minutes - there's lots of shaking and crashing, blah blah blah.

The effects are decent, with only a few notable exceptions - at one point, blood is supposed to fly at the camera, but it's obviously been drawn in by hand and looks ridiculous - but the main disaster segment lacks any life or excitement.

The remainder of Earthquake shows the rescue efforts, and though these should be exciting as well, they're actually forgettable. The characters are simply so flat and cartoony that no interest is ever evoked.

I don't care what happens to them, and the action tends to be so cheesy that it doesn't move me either. Earthquake occasionally provides some campy fun - dig Victoria Principal with that funky afro! - but that's about it. Overall, the movie's a silly stinker.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B+/ Bonus F

Earthquake appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Dated and problematic, this became an erratic presentation.

Many of the image’s problems stemmed from digital tampering. Superficially, the film came with lots of grain, but this never felt natural.

Instead, I got the impression the transfer went through noise reduction and then added phony grain to seem “film-like”. It didn’t work, and the project came across with a “digital” impression.

This impacted sharpness. On the surface, it offered decent accuracy, but it came across as hyper-defined, with obvious edge haloes through much of the film.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. Print flaws never became heavy, but I saw more than a few specks and marks, with some flashing/flickering at times.

Colors turned into a relative strength. Even with the “grain”, the hues tended to feel reasonably vivid and warm, with a natural palette.

Blacks appeared fairly dark and dense, while shadows usually worked well enough. Some “day for night” shots inevitably felt a bit murky, but those didn’t become a substantial concern. This wasn’t a terrible presentation, but it felt inconsistent and flawed.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it provided an inconsistent soundscape. Much of the material felt monaural, and for the movie’s initial 50 minutes or so, it rarely broadened other than to display fairly good stereo music. A few environmental effects used the side/rear channels, but the front center dominated.

Once the earthquake hit, matters opened up, as the violent action used the five channels pretty well. After that, the mix showed superior spread and speaker usage compared to the first 50 minutes, so expect a reasonably involving soundfield the rest of the way.

Audio quality felt dated but fine. Speech came across as a little brittle, but the lines remained intelligible and acceptably natural.

Music showed nice range and impact, while effects boasted pretty decent punch. Bass response felt warm and full, and other effects appeared acceptably accurate, though a little distortion crept in at times. Still, this was a much better than average mix for a film from 1974.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio showed obvious improvements, as this DTS-HD MA 5.1 track was much more involving and impactful than the dull mix on the DVD.

Visuals offered the usual boost from DVD to Blu-ray, so the latter brought superior colors and clarity. That said, it seemed likely that the Blu-ray just recycled the DVD’s transfers, so any improvements came from format capability. This ended up as a less than satisfactory image, even if it did top the DVD.

As far as supplements go, we get none. There’s not even a trailer to be found here.

My seven-year-old self loved Earthquake, but my 52-year-old self disagrees. Slow, clunky and campy, the movie only appeals to my nostalgic side. The Blu-ray comes with erratic visuals, very good audio and zero bonus materials. Though not the worst of the 1970s disaster flicks, Earthquake lacks thrills.

To rate this film visit the original review of EARTHQUAKE

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