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Natural and man-made disaster movies have been commonplace among Hollywood for years now. This weekend, San Andreas opens, focusing on earthquakes, but there have been some disasters throughout history that seemed like good subjects for a more “outside-the-box” kind of movie. Click to see the list of the craziest ones that I think should be featured.

Fire Whirls


Otherwise known as fire tornadoes, fire whirls are usually caused when a wildfire creates enough wind to create a vortex form, burning as hot as 2000 °F. Although they move fairly slowly, they can be incredibly destructive (imagine the movie Twister, but completely on fire).

The worst one to hit humanity on record came as a result of the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. The fire tornado resulted from a city-scale fire that proceeded to devastate the Hifukusho-Ato region of Tokyo and tragically took around 38,000 lives in less than 20 minutes.

EDIT: I was correctly called out that there has already been an appearance of a fire tornado in a movie called Into the Storm from 2014. Here’s the epic clip of it that I wish I had made myself: firenado.

Mt. Peleé Snake and Insect Invasion

Source: photo by Angelo Heilprin

This event in 1902 is what I would imagine you would get if you crossed Volcano with Snakes on a Plane!. Basically, Mt. Peleé was a volcano on an island in the French Caribbean that became active, spewing gas and ash and causing tremors throughout the island.

The invasion part occurred when all the animals nearby, particularly the poisonous snakes and insects native to the area, evacuated their homes outside the populated villages. Unfortunately, the villages were directly in the evacuation path. The deadly animals ended up taking the lives of 22 people and an additional 200 animals.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Mt. Peleé ended up erupting completely and decimated the nearby city of St. Pierre, leaving only 2 human survivors out of the entire population.

Limnic Eruptions (or Death Fog)

The obvious movie comparison to make here is to the Fogbut instead of murderous ghosts hiding in the mist, the culprit in this real-life disaster is carbon dioxide. Limnic eruptions stem from lakes that have an excess buildup of the gas underneath the surface, and when the lake is disrupted by a drastic temperature change or volcanic activity in the area, this gas can “erupt” from the surface of the lake. The amount of the gas is so great that the surrounding area becomes completely toxic and deadly for any oxygen-breathing animals.

Only two of these events have ever been recorded, but the deadliest took place in 1986 in the West African country Cameroon. Lake Nyos erupted and killed over 1,700 people in the surrounding villages.

Boston Molasses Disaster

Source: Boston Public Library

This one isn’t quite as “natural” as the other ones, but it was just so bizarre I had to list it here. I don’t even know what movie to compare this to because it’s so unusual.

Otherwise known as the Great Molasses Flood, this occurred in Boston’s North End on January 15th, 1919. The Purity Distilling Company had a giant vat of 2.3 million gallons of molasses awaiting transport. Due to a sudden temperature change, the container collapsed, and the molasses spilled out into the town.

On paper, it might not sound so threatening…until you get to the part where the giant, molasses wave maxed out at 25 feet high and reached speeds of 35 miles per hour! Many were able to escape, but the disaster claimed the lives of 21 locals and injured another 151.

Ethan is Director of Marketing at MoviePass. His new worst fear is drowning in molasses.


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