A few words about…™ Earthquake — in Blu-ray

Some films are best left to one's memories of them. This is probably one of those. 4 Stars

The imagery on Shout Factory’s new Blu-ray of the 1974 all-star epic catastrophe production, Earthquake, is of requisite enough quality to show off the film’s effects for their analogue quality.

Which were not good.

While many top actors, or actors of the past, got themselves a paycheck to appear in this film, the actual star was probably the publicity sizzle of the Sensurround process, as explained in a short piece by Ben Burtt.

I recalled the “landing airliner” in the TV version as being the best part of the broadcast, but my memory must be going, as it’s truly awful.

Some films are best left to one’s memories of them. This is probably one of those.

Imagery is more than acceptable for the feature version, and audio is fine. The TV version is probably best left undiscussed.

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – If you must

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

54 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    I recalled the "landing airliner" in the TV version as being the best part of the broadcast, but my memory must be going, as it's truly awful.

    Ha. Been saying that all along 😉

    Robert Harris

    The TV version is probably best left undiscussed.

    Ditto again.

  2. Yup, The Poseidon Adventure & The Towering Inferno were (& are) great, but there was a lot of dross in their wake, Earthquake, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm, When Time Ran Out, & many more, some I enjoy & some I don't. Today, if a disaster film isn't up to much, at least there's some mind boggling visuals, thanks to CGI.

  3. Billy Batson

    Yup, The Poseidon Adventure & The Towering Inferno were (& are) great, but there was a lot of dross in their wake, Earthquake, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm, When Time Ran Out, & many more, some I enjoy & some I don't. Today, if a disaster film isn't up to much, at least there's some mind boggling visuals, thanks to CGI.

    I wouldn’t include Earthquake in that list of terrible films.

  4. I loved it as a kid, but it really is an awful film. But I will always have a soft spot for it because it was my introduction to Geneviève Bujold, who I still think is terrific.

    I have the Universal blu for sentiment’s sake so no need to “upgrade” to the Shout as I thought at the time that all the added TV footage was dreadful.

  5. JohnMor

    I loved it as a kid, but it really is an awful film.

    Yup. I still have fond memories of seeing it at Springfield Mall with my mom and getting tacos afterward!

    Thought it was great when I was 7. Not so much now!

  6. Tino

    You sure about that? I thought this was a new transfer.

    Universal just did a new transfer why would they do another one for Shout so soon when it not a blockbuster selling title. Screenshots look identical. Shout may have done their own tweaks but nothing major and nothing worth an upgrade for.

  7. Randy Korstick

    Universal just did a new transfer why would they do another one for Shout so soon when it not a blockbuster selling title. Screenshots look identical. Shout may have done their own tweaks but nothing major and nothing worth an upgrade for.

    So then you’re not sure. 😉

  8. From Shouts press release.

    We're excited to announce a new Blu-ray release that will shake you to your core! 1974’s epic disaster flick Earthquake is getting the Collector’s Edition treatment on May 21st with a new scan of the film plus an extended cut featuring scenes shot for Television, and available for pre-order now at: http://bit.ly/EarthquakeCollector

  9. Tino

    From Shouts press release.

    We're excited to announce a new Blu-ray release that will shake you to your core! 1974’s epic disaster flick Earthquake is getting the Collector’s Edition treatment on May 21st with a new scan of the film plus an extended cut featuring scenes shot for Television, and available for pre-order now at: http://bit.ly/EarthquakeCollector

    A new scan of the film is usually fluff when a new scan of the film was just done a couple years ago. I've seen nothing that shows a major difference. Plus with Shouts high prices I wouldn't even consider it since I'm not interested in the TV cut.

  10. Randy Korstick

    A new scan of the film is usually fluff when a new scan of the film was just done a couple years ago. I've seen nothing that shows a major difference. Plus with Shouts high prices I wouldn't even consider it since I'm not interested in the TV cut.

    I get that. I was just questioning this definitive statement.

    Randy Korstick

    Yeah same transfer as Universal

  11. I saw it when released, and thought it much inferior to The Towering Inferno. Earthquake seemed the crassest, even patronizing bunch of hog jowls tossed into the commercial market. At least Inferno made for a classier produced and written thrill ride, with some truly effective moments.

  12. I like the movie (PG sleazy-cheesy, 70s-style) well enough to double-dip and I’m happy with the purchase. There’s no way to improve that Universal factory look all its output had back then but within that limitation colors (like green lawns) are richer than they were on the prior Blu.

    The best thing about preordering from Shout is that most if not all of its discs arrive at least two weeks before street date.

  13. I’ve never been able to stomach this film outside of the effects but especially for the Sensurround process which infuriatingly is still missing from any modern release even though there are fake tracks labelled as Sensurround on the disc. It is definitely possible to present in a home theater environment and to ensure all of the Sensurround films can be seen as intended.

    Heck if I had a Sensurround decoder I could use the audio from the old pan n scan Laserdisc which does have the control tones present and should theoretically decode out fine.

    It should be more of a priority for these films to have their most famous attribute on disc because without the Sensurround it really loses something. I think most of the audio remixes derive from the first one done for the widescreen Laserdisc which just makes a dull bass rumble a lot.

    Then there are the studio alternate sound forms like Megasound, Sound 360 and the like. Researching these formats is fascinating and also shows how Dolby realized how best to streamline the process and become successful at selling it to theaters.

  14. Can’t wait to hear what the Sensurround sounds like. I saw it in a theatre when I was a kid and I remember it was a big vibration and loud bass sound. The best thing about this film is its camp quality. Extras actually laugh as they’re hit by Styrofoam bricks and fall out of buildings.

  15. warnerbro

    The best thing about this film is its camp quality. Extras actually laugh as they're hit by Styrofoam bricks and fall out of buildings.

    I think a couple of extras in the restaurant scene snicker when Ava Gardner calls Lorne Greene “Dad” as well. 😀

  16. JohnMor

    I think a couple of extras in the restaurant scene snicker when Ava Gardner calls Lorne Greene “Dad” as well. 😀

    It is a not very good movie with some dubious acting and Lorne Greene as ' Dad ' to AG is really stupid but I like the film regardless !

  17. commander richardson

    It is a not very good movie with some dubious acting and Lorne Greene as ' Dad ' to AG is really stupid but I like the film regardless !

    Hey, at least Greene was 7 years older than Gardner. In "Manchurian Candidate", Lansbury was only 3 years older than Harvey!

  18. Brian Kidd

    True, but she pulled it off! She's a masterful actress.

    Oh, Lansbury was great in "Manchurian Candidate" – obviously it's 100X better as a movie than the woeful "Earthquake".

    Just always felt kinda bad for Angie that she played the mom of someone basically her same age!

  19. I watched Shout's EARTHQUAKE last night and noticed a definite uptick in quality and clarity. The Shout version doesn't seem to struggle with the same "noise" issues that the Universal version did. If the Universal version rated about three stars I would say this version is about 4 and 1/4 stars.
    Of course this film has some sentimental value for me. It was the first movie that I lobbied to see in the theater. My parents, who did go and see it, claimed it would be too traumatic for a sensitive child in Kindergarten. I had to wait two years to see it on television. As a consolation for not being able to see EARTHQUAKE they took me to see "JOURNEY BACK TO OZ".

  20. if you're of a certain age and disaster films were to your liking, Earthquake was an event.. My Dad didn't take me when I was 10 in 1974, the first time I saw it was the 1976 TV premier. would have been the extended version.

    As an adult, i don't think its as great as i thought it was when i was 12, but as a product of its time it is an average film that i have a soft spot for.

    I bought the new Shout Factory release for two reasons; to upgrade my BluRay and to get the extended version.

    The effects are only slightly better than San Fransisco (1936), some of the acting is over-the-top poor (Ava Gardner), casting ridiculous (Gardner is Greene's daughter!) but George Kennedy is solid (speech to Captain at start when he gets suspended is very good) and sets are well done. The script has some atrocious dialogue.

    but I bought it anyway, ive watched the theatrical cut, now i need to watch the extended TV Cut.

    I'd love it if Shout could release Airport '77 (1977) and King Kong (1976) extended TV cuts. These were extended with actual deleted footage so full 2.35:1 Blu-rays should be possible.

  21. ArnoldLayne

    The Reply button at each post doesn't work, right? It always takes me to the Forum homepage.
    For example the address bar currently shows
    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/a-few-words-about-earthquake-in-blu-ray/#comment-70982
    but when I click a Reply button, it changes to
    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/#comment-70988
    and it's the Home->Forums page with no place to reply to the intended message.
    Thanks

    Works for me. Obviously. 😉

  22. ArnoldLayne

    The Reply button at each post doesn't work, right? It always takes me to the Forum homepage.
    For example the address bar currently shows
    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/a-few-words-about-earthquake-in-blu-ray/#comment-70982
    but when I click a Reply button, it changes to
    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/#comment-70988
    and it's the Home->Forums page with no place to reply to the intended message.
    Thanks

    No problem here.

  23. ABritch

    I'd love it if Shout could release Airport '77 (1977) and King Kong (1976) extended TV cuts. These were extended with actual deleted footage so full 2.35:1 Blu-rays should be possible.

    It would be possible if the extra scenes still exist and are in any shape to be used. It seems to be rare that film elements of deleted material were kept after it was determined that any use could be made of them. These days, with older films at least, it seems like the only time that deleted material turns up is by dumb luck because someone threw it in a film can and shoved it in a random box and someone later on stumbles across it. Film is expensive to store, so anything not deemed of value was frequently trashed.

    I was stunned when the complete, extended TV version of Superman: The Movie turned up with a transfer from a film element with the original 2.35:1 AR. I felt sure that all of these extended-for-TV versions of films only existed in P&S or Open Matte prints, depending on the original AR. I wonder how many other extended TV versions of films exist in their correct AR or if we'll ever see any of them?

  24. Even though "Earthquake" is the least of the disaster films of the early to mid-70s (things got worse once we got to "The Swarm") it still holds some fascination and its great to have a new Blu-Ray that also includes the TV cut. I was led to believe that the Universal fire in 2008 may have destroyed all the extended TV cuts of late 70s Universal films that used to play frequently on TV and indeed that was why the TV cut of "Two Minute Warning" had to be sourced from an off-air TNT recording in the 90s. Even so, it looks like the only version that they had available was the two-part one that first aired on NBC rather than the longer one with the two extra scenes that were presented separate in lower source quality. That one was still showing on AMC quite often int the late 90s and 00s.

    The script is awful though a lot of dramatic scenes that further clarified the bad Stewart-Remy marriage got left on the cutting room floor. This defunct website devoted to the film summarizes all that was filmed and cut. Frankly, it's amazing that for the TV version, Universal chose to film new scenes instead of retrieving these from the original shoot.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20011031052150/http://members.aol.com/earthquakemovie/deletedscenes.html

  25. Eric Bodnar

    I watched Shout's EARTHQUAKE last night and noticed a definite uptick in quality and clarity. The Shout version doesn't seem to struggle with the same "noise" issues that the Universal version did. If the Universal version rated about three stars I would say this version is about 4 and 1/4 stars.
    Of course this film has some sentimental value for me. It was the first movie that I lobbied to see in the theater. My parents, who did go and see it, claimed it would be too traumatic for a sensitive child in Kindergarten. I had to wait two years to see it on television. As a consolation for not being able to see EARTHQUAKE they took me to see "JOURNEY BACK TO OZ".

    Trauma or no, I'd think a 5-year-old would be bored senseless at "Earthquake"!

    Not that it's especially entertaining for those of other ages either! 😉

  26. I always loved Albert Whitlock’s matte paintings–he was among the best. Not a huge fan of the film (as others note it takes way too long for something to happen in the film with the first hour really just soap opera garbage) but the work by Whitlock makes it worthwhile for the second section. I realize this was a 2K scan but I wonder what level of improvement we would see with 4K and also if it would just highlight the limitations of the effects work of the time.

  27. TonyD

    Yes perhaps more then, I received my replacement, Since up until then there was no apparent mention on needed s replacement.

    I assumed that the theatrical version was taken from the 70mm print at 2.20:1 instead of 2.35:1, is the theatrical version on disc 1 supposed to be the 2.35:1 image?

  28. ABritch

    I assumed that the theatrical version was taken from the 70mm print at 2.20:1 instead of 2.35:1, is the theatrical version on disc 1 supposed to be the 2.35:1 image?

    Read post #46 above. Is pretty well explains what the problem was. It was not taken from a 70mm print but an error in outputting that was not caught by Quality Control.

    Shout deserves kudos for stepping up so quick to fix the problem.

  29. Billy Batson

    Yup, The Poseidon Adventure & The Towering Inferno were (& are) great, but there was a lot of dross in their wake, Earthquake, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm, When Time Ran Out, & many more, some I enjoy & some I don't. Today, if a disaster film isn't up to much, at least there's some mind boggling visuals, thanks to CGI.

    Tino

    I wouldn’t include Earthquake in that list of terrible films.

    The Swarm is probably the most enjoyably bad of these. Whatever scenery wasn't destroyed by the bees was joyfully chewed by the cast.

  30. Stephen_J_H

    The Swarm is probably the most enjoyably bad of these. Whatever scenery wasn't destroyed by the bees was joyfully chewed by the cast.

    Ugh. Even as a disaster movie-loving 11-year-old in 1978, I knew "The Swarm" was bad! Just bad – no enjoyably about it! 😀

  31. ahollis

    Your more than welcomed.

    my replacement arrived this past Thursday.
    thank you for making me aware of this disc issue so i could get a corrected disc.
    I appreciate it.

    – Anthony

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