15 haunting earthquake movies from around the world that have left us shaken!

Disaster films have been a big box office draw since the thirties and forties when Hollywood first started making them. Although the films in the genre usually are made on a big budget, there have been a few occasions where we’ve come across stories that show us the impact of the devastation on a massive scale affecting all walks of life. Be it a tidal wave, a hurricane, a tornado, or an earthquake, audiences tend to better relate to the story and the characters as it deals with real-life experiences. There have been a good number of earthquake movies made and many of them come out from Hollywood over the last decade. The consequences of a natural disaster for the most part are destruction depending on the earthquake as lives will be lost, buildings get toppled, and homes being destroyed, and so on.

Watching the impact of earthquakes in documentaries can leave us feeling uneasy for the most part since it is a natural disaster, while it can be easier for many to stomach the events when shown in a film since there’s also the liberty of creative inputs coming into play such as the rise of the human spirit from the onset of devastation. Not only do earthquake movies tend to provide a huge dose of entertainment at times, but they can also turn out to be quite informational.

Below are a few noteworthy earthquake movies that have left a big impact on us:

S.O.S. TIDAL WAVE (1939)

Director: John H. Auer
Cast: Ralph Byrd, George Barbier, Kay Sutton, Frank Jenks, Marc Lawrence, Dorothy Lee
Synopsis: “A reporter exposes a crooked mayoral candidate as New York reels over the reported threat of a tidal wave.”


Director: Mark Robson
Cast: Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Geneviève Bujold, Richard Roundtree, Marjoe Gortner, Barry Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Victoria Principal
Synopsis: “Numerous people struggle for survival in the aftermath of a high-intensity earthquake that has wreaked havoc in Los Angeles, California.”


Original title: Zendegi va digar hich (Iranian film)
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Farhad Kheradmand, Pouya Payvar
Synopsis: “A filmmaker (Farhad Kheradmand) and his son (Buba Bayour) travel to the site of their last movie to see how inhabitants survived an earthquake.”


Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Georges Corraface, Cliff Robertson, Pam Grier
Synopsis: “A terrorist brainwashes Utopia, daughter of the U.S. President into stealing a detonation device. Snake, a mercenary, is assigned the task to find the device and the girl.”

VOLCANO (1997)

Director: Mick Jackson
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Gaby Hoffmann, Don Cheadle, Keith David
Synopsis: “After a minor earthquake in LA, a newly formed volcano erupts from under the city. Initially reluctant and disbelieving, the city officials rush to the rescue along with a plucky seismologist.”


Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton, Charles Hallahan
Synopsis: “Volcanologist Dalton travels to Dante’s peak and discovers that a raging volcano is about to erupt. He tries to convince the town’s unbelieving populace to be alert.”


Original title: Haeundae (South Korean film)
Director: Yoon Je-kyoon
Cast: Sol Kyung-gu, Ha Ji-won, Lee Min-ki, Kang Ye-won, Park Joong-hoon, Uhm Jung-hwa, Kim In-kwon, Song Jae-ho, Kim Ji-yeong
Synopsis: “Geologist Kim Hwi visits the Haeundae beach amidst millions of tourists as he is convinced of an impending tsunami. His worst fears may come true after being denied by the disaster prevention agency.”

2012 (2009)

Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson
Synopsis: “It’s the end of the world and only a select few millionaires were warned while the rest of the people are left to fend for themselves. Writer Curtis is one such man who struggles to save his family.”


Director: J. A. Bayona
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Synopsis: “Maria, Henry and their three kids decide to spend Christmas in Thailand. But their luxurious holiday turns into a nightmare when a tsunami swells up unannounced, thereby separating the family.”


Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti
Synopsis: “Following a massive earthquake, Ray, a rescue-chopper pilot, and his estranged wife try to find and save their daughter before another disaster strikes.”

PANDORA (2016)

Original title: Pan-dola (South Korean film)
Director: Park Jung-woo
Cast: Kim Nam-gil, Kim Young-ae, Kim Ju-hyeon, Jung Jin-young, Moon Jeong-hee, Kim Dae-myung, Kang Shin-il, Lee Geung-young
Synopsis: “A nuclear power plant is built in a rural town, but soon an earthquake causes the power plant to explode, exposing the people to radiation.”


Original title: Zemletryasenie (Russian-Armenian film)
Director: Sarik Andreasyan
Cast: Konstantin Lavronenko, Mariya Mironova
Synopsis: “In the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake that devastated a large swath of northern Armenia, two individuals (Konstantin Lavronenko, Viktor Stepanyan) with tragic connections to each other end up on the same rescue team.”

THE QUAKE (2018)

Original title: Skjelvet (Norwegian film)
Director: John Andreas Andersen
Cast: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, Kathrine Thorborg Johansen
Synopsis: “A geologist races against time to save his estranged wife and two children when a devastating earthquake strikes Oslo, Norway.”


Director: William Eubank
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller
Synopsis: “Norah and her team find themselves in a dangerous situation as they work at the bottom of the Mariana Trench and clash against an unidentified species.”

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