User Reviews (6)

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  • Why is it that in the 70's they even underscored DOCU-Drama's with that campy musical underscore???? UGH!

    Having said that, this film contains what I consider to be the BEST coverage of several disasters, namely, the Hindenburg. I have watched entire programs on cable devoted to just that ill-fated zeppelin that did not contain the amount of footage and detail here! I think as we move farther from an event, we tend to soundbyte everything; try to crunch it down to three sentances. Call it revisionist history if you want, it just stinks. This movie was great because it was 'closer' to the events that it chose to cover. I liked it a lot.
  • This is a documentary that I saw back in the early 80's and I still enjoy it. It can be a difficult to find documentary and I'm glad I finally found it. It was worth the effort.

    This film is not for those who are blood-thirsty and like to see graphic elements. Rather, it is targeted more towards an audience who want an education in history rather than blood and gore. It is old news footage shot by news crews and public service officials. People were not paid to make the remarks they did; they are on-the-spot interviews.

    This movie covers more than enough detail without being overly explicit so its rarity is NOT disintegrated. It is suitable for young adults and not for those who like gore. I strongly recommend this film.
  • haildevilman24 September 2006
    This is loaded with disaster footage.

    An unlike TV, this could go farther. But it was PG, so don't expect gore.

    You need to have a strong constitution and an adult mind to view it however. This is NOT exploitation. Some of the scenes are hard to watch due to the sympathy factor.

    Interviewing the survivors of hurricane Camille was a heart-render. The young lad talking about the search for his siblings and the old woman trying to keep a brave face while making it clear she lost everything were the standouts. And seeing people flee was tough to see as well.

    But the Sao Paolo office fire from 1976 was the corker. Watching people trapped on the roof suddenly decide to throw caution to the wind and climb down all those stories made you want to cheer 'em on. I only wish I knew if any of them made it.

    You cheer at the victories and cry at the losses.

    The Indy 500 scenes showed how some miscommunication also cause disaster.

    And earthquake footage is always scary. I live in Japan.

    My wife told me her father saw this in a Tokyo theater back in '77. Tells you how far the shock-docs can run here.
  • Those who haven't discovered this movie containing true disaster footage, don't worry about a thing! What you get is over ninety minutes of archived films on disastrous events that happened over the course of modern human history, with narration by William Conrad plus quite a few underpaid folks playing eyewitnesses voicing out short sentences on the events that occurred. The best segments were on Hurricane Camille and the Brazillian high-rise fire (which looks disturbing for a PG-rated release). Unfortunately, all of the footage contained in CATASTROPHE can be found in other videos with more explicit detail, meaning that its rarity is disintegrated. Oh, the humanity!

    OH, WELL!
  • In 1974 I became good friends with a young Air Force man who lived in Xenia, Ohio in 1973. He happened to be a student at the high school in which a school bus landed on the stage which, just moments before, was being used for a play rehearsal.

    When I first saw this movie I was especially intrigued by the Xenia tornado footage for that reason. I've since learned that it's really an amalgam of different tornado shots (most notably Wichita, KS) but sound of the tornado was actually recorded that day. It's terribly frightening.

    Catastrophe is full of good archival footage, survivor films and network news footage. Of course the world has suffered so many more tragedies since 1978, a lot of this stuff is old, but it's still good.

    Some of the events covered include Hurricane Camille, The 1973 Indy 500, the Dust Bowl, Xenia, the sinking of the Andria Doria, and the fire in a Brazilian high rise. The Hindenburg coverage is particularly interesting to me. I've seen and heard the footage and Herb Morrison commentary literally hundreds of times, but the interview with "the man who jumped from the Hindenburg" was refreshingly new.

    As a history buff and disaster freak, I'm happy to have added this to my collection. I recommend it to others with the same tastes. The technical aspects are dated and the music can be irritating at times. William Conrad (Cannon; narrator) has a rich resonating voice with enough melodrama to make the script eerie (at times) and interesting. The producers did know when to talk and when to shut up.
  • CATASTROPHE is one of those clip compilation documentaries that gather together shocking footage, add in a famous narrator, and let rip. The previous one I saw was DAYS OF FURY, starring Vincent Price, and CATASTROPHE is much the same.

    This isn't the sort of mondo movie that gorehounds will enjoy. There are a few clips of dead bodies, but this is 'safe' viewing for the most part, albeit still extremely shocking given the loss of life involved in the clips. There are old standbys which play out once again (such as the Hindenburg disaster), alongside new-to-me scenes such as the incredible events at the Indy 500.

    The narrator of choice is the ubiquitous William Conrad, star of TV's CANNON, who must have been one of the hardest-working voice-over artists of his era. Inevitably, given that this is a low budget 1970s production, the quality of the clips is somewhat grainy, but this gives the documentary a grindhouse feel. The best thing I can say about it is that it's never boring.