October 20, 2017
The Crazy (and Stupid) Ways Weather Tries to Kill Humankind In the Movies
As you undoubtedly already know by now (because you have been counting down the days!), today is the day Gerard Butler’s Geostorm finally hits theaters. The blockbuster-to-be is about weather satellites – not ones to measure weather, but ones that control it – that are turned against us and used to create massive storms that wreak havoc on humanity until Butler decides it’s time to start fighting back. It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for the guaranteed goofy joy that is Geostorm, and in celebration of its much-anticipated arrival we’ve decided to take a look at other movies where the weather is not only dangerous…but also ridiculous.
To be clear, this isn’t a ranking of weather-related disaster movies. (If it was, though, at least we’d all agree The Impossible would nab the top spot.) Instead, it’s a look at some of the more memorable ways in which weather has tried to kill us on the big screen – and usually succeeded.
Keep reading for a look at some of the craziest ways weather has tried to kill people in the movies.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
How does the weather kill? Hail storms, tornadoes, and flash freezes that can only be outrun by academic decathletes.
Any list featuring weather-related disaster movies is legally obligated to include at least one Roland Emmerich film, and while 2009’s 2012 would have worked well enough, this nod to climate change and global warming seems far more relevant. Its basis in real-world science concerns doesn’t make it any more realistic, of course, but amid its numerous scenes of inclement weather wiping out mankind it’s the “flash freeze” sequence that earns it a spot here. See, a sub-arctic cold front is whipping across the northern hemisphere, and while most people are caught off guard and frozen on the spot a young-ish Jake Gyllenhaal is able to literally outrun it on foot. This may be the most realistic part of the movie.
The Devil’s Rain (1975)
How does the weather kill? Acid rain, but luckily it only melts Satanists.
I should first apologize to our Satanist readers, as it would not be so lucky for you. Site analytics show only 4% of our visitors are Satanists, but you still matter to us. Anyway. You could argue that the cult at the center of this film are the bigger threat, but it’s the rain that claims the highest body count. Call it judgement from above or a simple liquid cleansing, but the rain kills because the devilish cult’s members have willfully given their souls over to Ernest Borgnine of all people. Bad move. Turns out there’s a reason the King James bible refers to human souls as “the Turtle Wax of illusory concoctions.” That’s right, they deflect rain, and without them human flesh simply melts into mush when wet.
The Fog (1980)
How does the weather kill? Fog. Well, fog loaded with ghostly, sword-wielding pirates suffering from pink eye and a desire to reclaim what’s rightfully theirs.
Fog isn’t typically a killer in movies outside of car crashes and movies like The Mist, where fog appears under an alias, but John Carpenter finds menace in its wispy coils and billowing pillows of death. It really shouldn’t be as unnerving as it is throughout the film, and while the scene where the glowing fog makes its move on little Andy Wayne is creepy, the one following with his mother (Adrienne Barbeau) is an all-timer. Carpenter’s fourth feature may not be as beloved as I personally think it should be, but there’s no denying that it features the most exciting portrayal of meteorological reporting captured onscreen since that weatherman in New Zealand spotted a penis-shaped waterspout.
Hard Rain (1998)
How does the weather kill? It’s a convoluted path, but basically (hard) rain leads to flooding which then leads obviously to murderous armored-car robbers on jet skis. Huh, maybe it’s not that convoluted.
If you haven’t seen this late 90s gem I have to question your commitment to Christian Slater’s filmography. Next you’re going to tell me you haven’t seen Kuffs or Gleaming the Cube either. It’s essentially a straightforward attempted robbery flick with bad guys stymied by an honorable good guy, but it’s made into something pretty darn special by one simple plot gimmick – almost the entirety of the movie takes place in five feet of water. The robbers are technically the ones doing most of the killing, but it’s the weather that creates the environment and makes it all possible. The rain keeps falling through much of the film, and while it doesn’t quite reach biblical proportions, it does star Morgan Freeman as the main baddie, which is almost the same thing.
Jack Frost (1997)
How does the weather kill? Snow gets sticky with a serial killer’s genetic material and takes on the shape of a murderous snowman.
If you’re starting to doubt your memories of having seen a movie called Jack Frost and thinking it was a sweet tale about a father and his son, well, you’re not crazy. This is a different Jack Frost, and instead of featuring Michael Keaton hugging his kid it stars American Pie‘s Shannon Elizabeth “hugging” a snowman in the bath tub. Snow kills plenty of people in movies, but this is a rare example of it doing so in such an actively sadistic way. The white, powdery, crystallized condensation is soon stained red as the snowman slaughters, strangles, and drives over the people in his slowly melting path.
How does the weather kill? Harder rain.
You really can’t beat the Old Testament when it comes to tales of human carnage both big and small, and while the New Testament comes close with its Book of Revelation, it’s got nothing on the story of the great flood in the Book of Genesis. It’s been the subject of many films before, but Darren Aronofsky’s big CG-filled spectacle captures the event in all its epic, ridiculous glory. Animals come crawling, walking, and slithering two by two, and one big battle later, the rain starts. It kills every biological creature on Earth outside of Noah’s family, his copulation collection, and sea life, which was presumably exempt from God’s wrath because not even He can stay angry with a fish.
How does the weather kill? Sharks.
Look, I could sit here and pretend I’ve seen this Syfy channel franchise-starter, but I care too much to serve you lies. I have seen the trailer, though, which in addition to being a big reason why I’ll never watch the film itself, also reveals the factor that lands it on this list. There’s a hurricane heading towards Los Angeles, it makes landfall after scooping up sharks from the ocean… and then it proceeds to launch them at people via malicious tornadoes. It’s not covered in the trailer, but I’m sure the film explains how the sharks are breathing in the open air. Obviously it’s silly and filled with really (intentionally) rough CG work, but if nothing else the filmmakers deserve credit for their utterly bonkers premise (and scorn for milking it through four sequels so far).
How does the weather kill? Climate change freezes the earth leading to mass extinctions and an acquired taste for baby flesh.
Bong Joon-ho’s dystopian sci-fi action/comedy(?) acknowledges global warming as the initial, very serious threat, but he takes it a step further by having mankind’s attempt at an easy fix solution actually worsen the situation instead. Our hubris creates the deadly weather, and the survivors’ shift to the train of the title sees an inhospitable outside lead to murder, savagery, and life-ending dietary restrictions on-board. People will do unimaginable things to survive, and after killing billions, the pressure of Earth’s new weather reality proceeds to chip away at the very little that remains of our humanity. So yeah, in addition to being the deadliest weather event on this list, it’s also the most demoralizing.
Storm of the Century (1999)
How does the weather kill? A fierce winter storm traps an island community with a deadly stranger who promises to go away if they give him what he wants.
This miniseries is a somewhat hidden gem among Stephen King’s 70-plus movies/miniseries, and while that’s most likely due to it being an original production – there’s no source novel or story – I can’t help but think it’s also because it stars one of the guys from NBC’s Wings. (See The Shining miniseries as more evidence for this theory.) Regardless, the weather at work here seals off an entire island community, kills a few people, and exists strictly as shelter for the mysterious newcomer who’s in no hurry to say what exactly it is he wants in exchange for leaving. It’s maybe more harrowing and heavy than ridiculous, but I’ll take any chance to call attention to this one.
How does the weather kill? Cows.
Just as I wouldn’t lie to you about not having seen Sharknado, I’m also telling the truth when I say I’ve totally seen Twister. That’s how I know it features a similar plot involving tornadoes that sweep up carnivorous cows and toss them at unsuspecting storm chasers, farmers, and farm animals alike. I don’t remember if Bill Paxton uses a chainsaw against the bovine threat, but I do recall Helen Hunt being mad about ewe.