1104. Avalanche (1978)

From one Franken wimp to another, Danny is now McDade. Instead of wasteland, we have snow. Priced at $6.5 million, Roger Corman shrunk Avalanche (1978) in cost. Filmed around the Purgatory Resort north of Durango, Colorado, it was rushed to finish in 8 weeks. Once in theaters, audiences supposedly laughed when Stryofoam appeared. Starring Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, and Robert Forster, the expected smash underperformed at the box office. Mad Bots, Mouth Vacuum, the Don la Font-aine 3000, Neil Patrick Harris. Big-budget disaster? “Feels like I’m wearing nothing at all! Nothing at all!”, “Suddenly I’m craving a York Peppermint Patty”, “ORANGE JUICE!!!” “Dear Trip Advisor” or “YOU’RE AS COLD AS ICE!!!”?


My favorite Jonah episode (so far).

AND my name is in the credits!


Same here. This IS MST3K. Callouts, singing, striping a picture bare, no Jonah show does it better. The stars, disaster elements, 70s cheese, this sticks to the punchlines like glue. My top Season 11 episode. Starcrash (1978) is a close second.


Movie was tame by bad movie standards, though the mother character dying at the end was a bit messed up even if it did contribute to Rock Hudson’s character’s final realization at the end.

Plus, the episode gave us this rare look:


A sucker that I am for bad experiments, having a ball with one is hard to top. Cave Dwellers (1984), Pod People (1983), Avalanche (1978) is in good company.


I remember Roger Corman saying in his autobiography (well worth a read, by the way) that the disaster movie bubble had burst by the time they released this one. He knew how to make a film quickly to capitalise on trends, but sometimes things move on faster than expected. The Black Hole, which we mentioned in another thread, went through an in-development genre shift to avoid the same fate. I’m not sure that helped it. And this was before Airplane! came along and killed the disaster movie stone dead.


Maybe my favourite episode of all time.


It took Roland Emmerich to sneak it back in with Independence Day. And the '90s genre never took off like the '70s did.


Well, it did hit its own parody roadblock, though a much poorer one:


This episode more than any other illustrates how much times have changed since the original series one. You just know that if this movie had been on the show in the '90s, there would have been at least a couple jokes, if not a full running gag, about how Rock Hudson was gay in real life, and I also get the feeling they wouldn’t have gone as strong with the sympathy for his wife either.


Mine too! That was something I liked with the Netflix ones, trying to guess which movie would have your name in the credits.


Rock Hudson had more romantic chemistry with Julie Andrews in Darling Lili, and they had none.

Something similar could be said to have happened with The Undead. The whole past life regression fad was starting to become passé during production, so some script doctoring was in order.


Season 11 was easier than 12, since 11 was completely in alpha order. For someone with a name later in the alphabet once I saw the scheme after 1101, I knew I didn’t need to look for my name for a while.

Season 12 was not so easy.


This is one of my all time faves…they had me right from the Mike Nesmith reference in the first 5 minutes.

And I’m sorry, I found the exploding ambulance bit freaking hysterical. I love disaster movies, the more earnest the better!


If they decide to go back to that well, the 90s sure had quite a bit of tv movies that were knockoffs of theatrical disaster movies, like Twister → Night of the Twisters.


I would say the “[blank] Movie” movies did more to destroy the Airplane! style of comedy than they had any impact on the genres they were spoofing.

Airplane! didn’t just put a nail in the disaster genre’s coffin, they ended that whole style of stilted melodrama, and to some degree Leslie Nielsen’s entire dramatic canon past and future. (Creepshow came out in close proximity to Airplane! and people were known to giggle through Leslie Nielsen’s performance in that, e.g…)

“Pod People”:

“Ey, Luigi! Alien’s such a big hit, let’s make our own Alien!”
“You got it, Lucio! We’re halfway done already!”
“Ey, Luigi! E.T. such a big hit, let’s make our alien nice, whaddayasay?”
“No problem, Lucio!”

Setting aside my the fact that Pod People is Spanish and French, I feel like it went down this way.


I love watching Avalanche and Starcrash over and over, even if I don’t think either reaches the riffing heights of the extremely formidable Cry Wilderness or a lot of classic era eps. I think the riffing is a bit too labored or overly scripted in places on these two, but the movies are just so much fun and the riffing that hits is pretty good. They’re not riffing duds by any means. Either way, I watch Avalanche over and over a lot so that has to count for something. I’m still trying to figure out if anything got cut out from the figure skater subplot for time or if she literally just disappeared spinning into the snow.

They need to do more and more '70s/'80s cheese, but especially more disaster movies. I am still praying City on Fire or SST Death Flight return from the KTMA depths, like The Million Eyes of Sumuru this season.

This kills me every time.


One more vote for Best Jonah Episode here. I made my not-particularly-Mistie-family watch and they laughed their asses off!

  • This is the third time this week we’ve found you under a log, it’s getting weird!
  • She died as she lived, completely lit up.
  • :musical_score: The only thing I don’t need is youuuuuu! :musical_note:
  • Velociwalrus!
  • Dear Trip Advisor…

An absolute howler from beginning to end.


This, Reptilicus, and Star Crash are my Tops for Season 11.


My favorite character from Avalanche is Action Ambulance!


“With REAL ambulance action!”

Rock Hudson’s on-screen mother was in that ambulance.

She died as she lived: Flaming at the bottom of a pit.