Avalanche (1978 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Corey Allen|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||Corey Allen|
|Story by||Frances Doel|
|Music by||William Kraft|
|Edited by||Larry Bock|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. The film was featured in the first season of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival, released through Netflix on April 14, 2017.
David Shelby (Rock Hudson) is the wealthy owner of a new ski resort nestled below a snow-covered mountain. He invites his ex-wife, Caroline Brace (Mia Farrow), to come to the resort for the grand opening, which also kicks off a ski tournament and a figure skating competition. Among the many guests is David's feisty mother, Florence (Jeanette Nolan), Bruce Scott (Rick Moses) a world famous ski champion, and two rival figure skaters.
Caroline, a magazine reporter, divorced David as he is a control freak, but David invited her to the resort in an attempt to rekindle their marriage. David has to be "King of the Mountain," and opened the resort in what was considered uninhabitable country due to the heavy avalanches. McDade (Steve Franken) the timid book keeper, explains to Florence that David had to negotiate with land developers and put his own money into building the resort. While taking her on a tour of the grounds, McDade runs into Nick Thorne (Robert Forster), an environmental photographer who claims the resort is environmentally unsafe due to the heavy snowfall scheduled to arrive, but his protests are ignored. Caroline finds herself becoming attracted to Nick, which only infuriates David and brings out his controlling side.
Due to considerable red tape involved in the construction of the resort, David urges one of his business partners to fly in to settle matters despite the snow. He hosts a large party in the resort the night of the opening, where everyone dances and drinks the night away. Caroline, after confronting David over his controlling nature, runs into Nick and they go off together to Nick's cabin. As the night goes on the snowfall increases, adding more weight to the mountain. The next morning sees the start of the ski and figure skating events, and Nick leaves Caroline in the cabin to go shoot some of the fresh snow off of the mountain with a snow gun to avoid an avalanche.
Unfortunately, the plane carrying David's business partner crashes into the mountain due to low visibility, starting an avalanche. Tons of snow roll down the mountain, destroying the ski ramp, the skating rink and the resort, resulting in an immense loss of life. David gets trapped at the skating rink but manages to dig himself out. He makes it to the resort, where McDade and Florence are trapped under a staircase in the dining room. A gas leak in the kitchen causes an explosion, injuring more people and taking out the phone lines. The nearest town's fire department comes to the rescue, bringing along a camera crew to document the destruction. Bruce manages to ski away from the impending avalanche, but is buried alive. The ski ramp is destroyed and everyone is buried except for a boy named Jason and Mark Elliott (Barry Primus), a television host. The two are stuck in a partly collapsed ski ramp chair, dangling in the air.
Caroline sees the avalanche from the cabin and heads to the resort, meeting up with David. After dynamiting and digging through the snow, they come across McDade and Florence, who is near death due to hypothermia. Caroline resuscitates her through mouth to mouth and accompanies her on the ride to the hospital. Bruce, still alive, is found by a team of search and rescue people and is carried off in critical condition. David and a group from the fire department go to the ski ramp to rescue Jason and Mark, telling them to fall into the safety trampoline. Jason goes first and is safe, but the metal rope drags across the pulley and causes an electrical shock, electrocuting Mark.
As David and Nick load body bags into a truck another ambulance arrives, the driver telling David that the bridge leading to the hospital is still unsafe due to the snow. Realizing that Caroline and Florence are heading that way, Nick and David drive off to intercept them. The ambulance carrying the women skids over a patch of ice and careens off the road, causing Caroline to be thrown out. The vehicle crashes into a gorge under the bridge and explodes on the way down, killing the driver and Florence. David and Nick make it to the scene minutes later to find Caroline clinging to the bridge's collapsed railing, hanging over the ledge. The men work together to pull Caroline up, David tying a rope around her and Nick pulling her to safety. The three then look on as the ambulance continues to burn under them.
The scene cuts to Caroline arriving at the destroyed resort to say goodbye to David before leaving. She runs into Nick, who is leaving as well; he says it will take years to reclaim everything buried in the snow. Nick tells her he likes her just the way she is, and they part on good terms. Caroline goes inside the resort and has a final word with David, who admits that the entire incident is his fault, surprising Caroline. She tells him that she loves him and then departs, leaving David alone with the destruction of his accomplishments.
- Rock Hudson — David Shelby
- Mia Farrow — Caroline Brace
- Robert Forster — Nick Thorne
- Jeanette Nolan — Florence Shelby
- Rick Moses — Bruce Scott
- Steve Franken — Henry McDade
- Barry Primus — Mark Elliott
- Cathey Paine — Tina Elliott
- Jerry Douglas — Phil Prentiss
- Antony Carbone – Leo the Coach
- X Brands – Marty Brenner
The film was originally budgeted at $6.5 million, but producer Roger Corman cut that amount before production began. It was directed by Corey Allen, who had previously made the film Thunder and Lightning for Corman. Allen himself rewrote Gavin Lambert's script extensively and received a script credit. (Lambert later claimed Allen "dewrote" the script.)
However, Allen was unhappy with the budget cuts and stated that "I don't feel the aims of the film were fulfilled… there were heavy pressures on Paul [Rapp, the line producer,] to bring the film in ahead of schedule, and these I feel were detrimental to the film."
Avalanche was one of the most expensive films ever made by New World Pictures and was not a success at the box office.
The film came out at the same time as New World's Piranha. Corman says that New World thought Avalanche would be more of a success because "it was more mainstream" and had bigger stars however Piranha was the bigger hit. In hindsight, Corman says this was because Piranha was "funny and very well directed".
- Christopher T Koetting, Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Hemlock Books. 2009 p 143
- Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
- THE YOUNG DIRECTORS: WHO IS USING WHOM? Goldstone, Patricia. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Dec 1978: o6.
- IMDb – Filming locations
- Leedham, R. (1991, Oct 03). Low, low, quick, quick, low. The Guardian (1959–2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/187184267