Disaster Movies and the Gremlins Who Love Them

Header depicting a traffic sign in a flood; reads 'Disaster movies! the three key elements that make them work!'

I have a guilty secret; I love disaster movies. Disaster movies in any iteration are my bread and butter. Natural disasters and manmade disasters, you name it, I love it. From earthquake to terrorist attacks to avalanches to nuclear reactors failing, I want it all.

Ultimately it’s about normal people thrust into completely wild situations. Bring it on! Most movies fall into that basic arc but disaster movies are something really special. Usually, there’s an element of dumbness to them (let me tell you about all the stupid-dark movies on Netflix I love); the same kind of “don’t go in there!’ vibes you get from watching a horror movie, but with the bonus of not having serial killers or demons. The character you like is easy to like. The character you hate is easy to watch die dramatically. Disaster movies are easy watching, even as buildings collapse, and people are impaled.

With all that in mind, I loathe one disaster movie above all others.

‘The Perfect Storm’

Ugh

The problem is that it is actually a perfect disaster movie, it has all the right elements and timing and writing. It’s on a bunch of lists of ‘great disaster movies’. But I just can’t stand it.

Ultimately there are a few things a great disaster movie needs. A great story, with great action, and great characters. And finally some sort of X-Factor. I’m not above arguing that The Perfect Storm meets the three criteria points, but jeepers, it seems like it barely makes the grade and there isn’t much there that wow’s me. So, if you’ll pardon the pun, let’s dive in.

7 “Stupid-Dark” things to watch on Netflix.

In light of the pending pandemic, Hallmark just announced they were going to release and marathon some of their Christmas movies to lighten the mood. That’s adorable. That’s the last freaking thing I think I can handle right now.

To posit an alternative, let me introduce you to one of my favorite things. I’m a big fan of a very special genre I like to call “stupid-dark.” (I’m also guilty of being a fan of faux-documentary horror movies, so do with that what you will). Movies that show the less cute side of humans and/or have 5th grade creative writing level plots. There’s lots of good dark movies and shows, but the majesty of reaching a stupid-dark is unparalleled. Unexpected, bizarre, outlandish, and most importantly, distracting. That’s the stupid-dark way.

This is what I need in these trying times. I can barely handle cute Christmas Hallmark movies during the holiday season, and there’s a possibility that you’re the same way. Come join me on an adventure into Stupid-Dark. Best part, these are all on Netflix right now! Yippie!

1. Tiger King (2020)

This is brand new on Netflix and I binged it in a day (yesterday was not productive to say the least, but I, along with Joe Exotic and a plethora of weirdos of big cat breeding did very good on scrabble go while watching this so that’s something). This leans more towards Dark/Weird than truly Stupid-Dark – because it’s not stupid, it’s an incredible documentary – but there’s some things that happen that make you go “Oh god, that was stupid,” so I’m including it here. This deep dive into the lives of the big cat breeders and traders into the United States, including a Libertarian presidential campaign, accidental suicide, a man leading a harem of women tiger keepers, a potential murder plot and of course a butt ton of baby tigers and lions, is so bizarre and gripping.