A What-Nado? The 10 Wackiest Natural Disaster Movies

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Despite humanity still standing tall and challenging death’s array of obstacles on a daily basis, Hollywood loves showing us all the ways our existence could be eradicated in a heartbeat. While war is a predominant reason for our extinction, leading to nuclear obliteration and senseless killing, these are all fates brought upon by our own doing. Country against country, army against army, we can see these attacks coming, but what about the threats we cannot predict? What about the daily harm we cause Mother Nature? It’s only a matter of time before she strikes back with a vengeance, as we can’t even fathom the most dastardly natural disasters still to come our way – or can we?

Disaster movies are a thing of blockbuster proportions, looking at films depicting every kind of tornado (Twister), earthquake (Earthquake), Volcano (Volcano), and imaginable catastrophe (2012/The Day After Tomorrow) known to man. The latest film to show humans how fragile life can be is Into The Storm, Steven Quale’s “tornado on steroids” movie about a small Southern town facing the storm of the century. These types of films are mass chaos achieved on a gigantic scale, through means that are typically just everyday parts of nature – emphasis on the word “typically.”

Sometimes Hollywood likes to have fun with natural disasters, exemplifying the outrageous ways Mother Nature can strike back or our lives can be threatened by even the slightest magnetic pull. These films usually aren’t meant to be taken seriously, unless you’re a kooky conspiracy theorist, but when thinking about all the ways Earth has survived an onslaught of ridiculousness, I thought it might be fun to venture back through the mutated tornadoes and unlikely animal attacks for a dissection of the zaniest, head-scratchy-est natural disaster movies in history.

Hope you enjoy my take on the 10 wackiest natural disaster movies.


10) The Swarm (1978)

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I think starting off with an Irwin Allen film seems fitting, right? The man loved disasters, and while The Poseidon Adventure was a more contained kerfuffle (on which he directed the action sequences), The Swarm is a bit more bizarre in terms of natural destruction. Working in a smidgen of environmental commentary, Allen’s story warns of a swarm of African killer bees that begin mating with normal, more docile bees. As their numbers grow, so does their aggression, and swarms of bees start attacking American cities, and more importantly, Michael Caine.

Yes, it’s up to a British character actor to save Houston, Texas from an onslaught of killer bees unwilling to leave any survivors. Hell, this was 1978 though, they could get away with just about anything, and with a supporting cast featuring Henry Fonda, Slim Pickens, and a slew of other classically familiar faces, Irwin Allen DID get away with just about anything – except with critics. The film bombed, getting called one of the worst films ever made (even though PLENTY of other B-Moves have redefined that classification since), but has since gone on to live in “so bad it’s good” infamy.

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9) Collision Earth (2011)

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OK, Collision Earth is a terrible, awful, no good, very bad movie, but with such a looney premise, I can’t ignore it while writing up this collection of absurdity. Earth has been threatened by asteroids before, raining down in apocalyptic fashion, but what about an entire planet hurtling towards our own? Yes, after a series of science-y events, the sun pulls Mercury out of orbit and sets it on a collision course with Earth, spelling certain doom when both worlds collide. You know, like the Powerman 5000 song?

Oh but wait, this natural disaster hasn’t even reached its full “weird” potential yet. Earth’s only savior turns out to be a disgraced scientist with a defunct weapon program titled “Project 7,” which of course might be our only hope of survival. What follows is a whole bunch of awfulness, so don’t actually watch this flick, but based on the merits of being one of the craziest setups for disaster, it gets a mention here.

Now let’s talk about some more interesting movies…

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8) Metal Tornado (2011)

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So this one isn’t entirely Mother Nature, but it’s a pretty wild spin on tornado horror none the less. When the world is threatened by an energy crisis, Helios World Inc. think they have the solution. Pushing forward with a flawed plan, the company accidentally unleashes a free-moving magnetic vortex that sucks up any attracted materials in the area – subsequently creating a swirling collecting of scrap metal ready to slice up unwilling victims.

I mean, it stars Lou Diamond Phillips – what can go wrong? Um, a lot, as the film isn’t very good at all, but it’s still a brainy bit of natural disaster absurdity that looks as crazy as it sounds. A tornado like this would cut its way through just about any obstacle, halving victims like a warm knife through butter. Not even Lou’s rugged looks could stop such an armed bit of nature!

Metal tornadoes – what could possibly come next!

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7) Ice Twisters (2009)

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Oh, I’m sorry. Did you think there was only room for one tornado mutation film on this list? Think again! THERE’S THREE! Yes, Ice Twisters is only the second of three different types of killer tornadoes featured on this list, blending elements of frigid cold with whipping, gushing winds. These tornadoes are brought upon by man’s folly, as a successful government experiment unleashes a much more vicious storm, and it’s up to a group of unsung maniacs to stop the erratic weather patterns.

So if being sucked up by a tornado wasn’t scary enough, how about freezing temperatures that will stop you in your tracks, letting the pursuing tornado snatch you up with ease? Being cold sucks, but being cold AND WHIPPING AROUND IN A TORNADO would be a hell of a lot worse I’d imagine, but thankfully we haven’t had to worry about such scientific alterations to Mother Nature in real life yet. Ice Twisters is just a movie – I repeat, just a movie.

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6) Arachnoquake (2012)

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You know what sucks? Earthquakes. You know what sucks even more? Earthquakes that unleash giant spiders who like to spit fire and eat people. Don’t you hate it when nature throws a curveball at you like that?

Sure, movies like Eight Legged Freaks have already played out the whole giant-killer-spider theme, but Arachnoquake takes it fifteen steps further by introducing a natural disaster AND flamethrower capabilities into the mix, creating death in a myriad of ways. Surprisingly enough, this WASN’T a collaboration with Asylum, instead being produced by Active Entertainment, but the typical Asylum feel cannot be ignored.

Don’t worry, we’re left in the capable hands of Edward Furlong (too many Direct-To-DVD movies to count now) and Tracey Gold (Growing Pains), who do their best to not become a giant-spider-sized shish kebab. Of course, by “capable,” I mean “passable for a SyFy movie, but this isn’t a list of the BEST natural disaster films, just the wackiest.

I’d say fire-breathing-spider earthquakes ranks pretty damn high on the “wacky” scale.

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5) The Birds (1963)

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Alfred Hitchcock was a master of tension, displayed gracefully by taking such a typically mundane creature – birds – and turning them into a vessel for pure terror. Still heralded as a classic horror film in the eyes of many historians, so many iconic images have come out of such a classic tale of slow-burn ferocity. Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, and many other actors of old, Hitchcock gives people a reason to fear our winged brethren past being randomly pooped on.

Of course, as a bonus reference, you could also throw Birdemic in at this slot, channeling Hitchcock’s masterpiece in a much more low-budget, B-Movie kind of way. While Hitchcock’s birds are simply killers who would peck your eyes out and cause accidents, filmmaker James Nguyen creates bird foes who can spit acid and explode on impact. Sure, Hitchcock nailed a more realistic scenario, but Nguyen’s story has a much more vicious – and ridiculous – edge. Of course, no part of my being can recommend something like Birdemic (quite possibly the worst movie of all time in some critic’s eyes) over a Hitchcock classic, so The Birds stays front and center as it should be. Honestly, it’s wackier because Hitchcock makes us BELIEVE the attack can happen, where Birdemic can’t for obvious reasons.

Did I just manage to work The Birds and Birdemic into the same paragraph? I think Hitchcock just rolled over in his grave.

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4) The Core (2003)

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What happens when the Earth’s core stops rotating? Well, after enough time, the Earth’s magnetic field would collapse, and we’d all be in a proper pickle until a quick, untimely death. Sounds like just the situation for a heroic group of scientists and astronauts to drill into the Earth’s core and give our planet a proper jolt of adrenaline so she’ll keep on spinning! That’s the gist of The Core, which surprisingly enough is one of the better movies on this list. Not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment…

Assembling a cast including Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Stanely Tucci, and a few other notable faces, our heroes travel in a craft made from Unobtanium, the only material that could keep them safe from the core’s tremendous heat. This renegade team goes in gun’s blazing, but encounters numerous hardships and miscalculations along the way – your typical disaster film fodder – until finally saving the day at the very last minute.

We’ve seen humans sacrifice themselves to save the planet before, be it in space (Armageddon) or on land (so many examples), but we’ve never really seen a successful venture into the inner workings of our own planet. For that reason, The Core gets a special place on this list of wackadoo natural disasters.

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3) Frogs (1972)

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When are people going to learn that Mother Nature is not to be screwed with? While there have been many, MANY examples, Frogs could be one of the most hilarious, if not for the theatrical poster alone. The way that doe-eyed frog just stares blankly into your soul, with a human arm hanging out of its mouth – the image eats directly into you. This is why you don’t pollute or attempt to eliminate nature with harmful pesticides, because when nature fights back, it’s a violent forced to be reckoned with.

Starring Sam Elliot and Ray Milland, Frogs is nothing but pulpy, B-Movie fun. A whole array of different animals attack a Southern family of environmental haters, from tarantulas to snapping turtles, but it’s the frogs who are nature’s silent assassin. The haunting image of all those frogs ending Milland’s life, hopping about his fallen corpse, is one of the most hilarious horror movie warnings of all time, mixing a “save the rainforest” mentality with the unpredictable horrors of nature.

“Cold green skin against soft, warm flesh…” – the tagline says it all. Talk about zany natural disasters, albeit a more contained experience.

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2) The Happening (2008)

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If you haven’t seen The Happening yet, consider yourself lucky. The only way I made it through the entire movie was synching M. Night Shammy’s abysmal disaster film with the geniuses over at Rifftrax (the Mystery Science Theater 3,000 gang), and even THAT was a chore despite laughing throughout. I mean, spoilers are coming for whoever hasn’t suffered through Marky Mark’s most regrettable role – but if you haven’t seen the film yet, consider what I’m about to do a favor.

Killer plants. Yup, threatened by humans, the vegetation all around us starts releasing a toxin into the air that makes people commit suicide. We screwed with Mother Nature, she got pissed, and we had to pay for our actions by laying down in front of farmhand equipment or jumping off tall buildings. Brilliant stuff, M. Night.

This movie is lazy, without tension, and painfully dreadful to watch, but we can’t deny how absolutely batshit insane of a natural disaster movie Shyamalan’s biggest failure is based on.

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1) Sharknado (2013)

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I don’t need to explain why this is the wackiest bit of disaster horror ever to pollute the minds of American culture, do I? As a hurricane passes over Los Angeles, super tornadoes suck up hordes of killer sharks who just happen to be swimming along the California coast, creating the ungodly embodiment of natural Hell on Earth – Sharknadoes. Yes, spinning cyclones of death filled with finned predators who are just waiting for their next snack. With Los Angeles flooded, some sharks are thrown into the water to do their killing, while others remain trapped in the tornado, flying around and around without losing their chum.

Another “brilliant” idea brought to you by The Asylum, Sharknado went on to not only spawn the recent sequel Sharknado 2: The Second One, but a third film in the franchise has been announced, undoubtedly challenging classic trilogies like Star Wars and The Godfather for cinematic dominance. While it makes me utterly depressed to admit as much, Sharknado will be remembered as one of the defining B-Movies in recent years, even though so many better examples exist that went nowhere because they didn’t have the proper viral marketing. Don’t worry, this fight isn’t over.

Whether you like it or not, Sharknado is the absolute pinnacle of bonkers natural disaster movies, taking Asylum’s obsession with tornadoes twenty leagues farther than we could ever imagine.

So, does it get any crazier than a tornado filled with sharks? If I’ve missed your favorite wacky disaster film, let us know what you think belongs on the top of WGTC’s list!

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