Beyond the Poseidon Adventure DVD Review: A Different Kind of Disaster

Still, it's better than the 2006 remake of the original film!
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If you've never seen the original version of Irwin Allen's disaster movie masterpiece The Poseidon Adventure, allow me to sum it up for you in a short gathering of words: it's about a big boat that flips over. If you've never seen Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Irwin Allen's very own attempt at grabbing more moolah from the same cash cow he himself nurtured and brought to market in the first place, then please permit me to inform you that you really aren't missing all that much. Nothing at all, in fact - unless you happen to have a soft spot for those special kind of disaster movies from yesteryear that most assuredly live up to their sub-genre classification.

And guess what? I'm one of those people. [insert your own assorted levels of shock and awe here]

After Mr. Allen's ship underbelly prop failed to sink for the ending of The Poseidon Adventure, he decided to create something that would sink instead. And, in that respect, he succeeded admirably. But let's talk about the story for a little bit instead. Here, a decidedly bland trio of heroes - Michael Caine (in his post-new/pre-respectable days), Sally Field (in her younger Sally Field days), and Karl Malden (comment not found) - come across the still floating hull of the Poseidon and promptly set out to claim salvage rights. Because that's what human beings do, people: cash-in on the dead.

Alas, it's never that easy - and when you're Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, you have further obstacles to contend with. Firstly, there's that whole upside-down-ship-that-could-very-well-finally-sink-at-any-minute factor. Secondly, there are additional survivors strewn about the innards of the capsized vessel who unwisely chose to not accompany Reverend Gene Hackman in the previous film. As a matter of fact, none of them resemble any of the other passengers or crew in the least respect. Thirdly, a group of shady-looking individuals claiming to be Greek Orthodox medics - as led by Telly Salavas, so you know they're not going to turn out to be bad guys - turn out to be bad guys, and have no qualms whatsoever about killing off their fellow cast members just so the bad movie will end sooner.

But it is the fourth and final hindrance - the fact that the movie is just plain awful - that ultimately impedes any possibility of Beyond the Poseidon Adventure from becoming anything other than guilty pleasure disaster film fare. While the premise is far from hideous, Allen somehow manages to suck the air out of it by not seeming to care about anything more than revenue. Note how bright and shiny the interior of the Poseidon looks now (it was awfully nice of the surviving cleaning crew to keep on working like that, all things considered!), or how most of the (sometimes way-too-upright) sets or camera angles utterly fail to capture the elements of claustrophobia or just danger-in-general here. Why, not even a supporting cast featuring the likes of Peter Boyle, Shirley Jones, Jack Warden, Slim Pickens, Shirley Knight, Angela Cartwright, or a young Mark Harmon (who couldn't act back then, either, but still) manage to keep the project afloat.

Still, it's better than that terrible 2006 remake of the original Poseidon.

But of course it those same aforementioned aspects of awfulness that have garnered Beyond the Poseidon Adventure's, er, "reputation" over the years as a cult title. And while this Warner Archive Collection re-release of the now-out of print 2006 DVD fails to include those extra 20-25 minutes of footage NBC added for the 1981 television airing (honestly, studios should look into MOD releases of those classic alternate TV versions of flicks, as there are those of us who will dive into that like salvagers into the Poseidon's hull, but that's another matter altogether), it still manages to give us the same transfer and extras as the older disc.

The movie is presented in a 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer here, with mono English and French audio options. Special features consist of a vintage promotional piece about the making-of the title (and which runs about the same length as that missing TV footage, ahem!) and trailers for the main feature in question and another Irwin Allen/Michael Caine/Slim Pickens project, the much-better killer bee flick, The Swarm.

Recommended mainly for cinemasochists. And anyone who wants to wash the taste of Wolfgang Petersen's Poseidon out of their mouths.

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