Director Corey Allen and screenwriter Frances Doel throws in every cliché in the manual, and makes them work a lot better than some of the bigger movies in the genre. What could have been quite boring, is instead a effective disaster-thriller with low budget and high ambitions. It could be easy to joke about big names like Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow slumming in a b-grade Roger Corman-movie, but both (and not only them, this is a very well acted movie) makes the best of it and injects some warmth in their characters. Robert Forster, always good, plays a role that was in every Corman production during these day: the conscious hero, protecting the nature and innocent. He even steals to make a good thing, saving maybe a few peoples lives.
What impresses me the most is that Avalanche probably had a budget around 1-1,5 million dollars, and the a normal producer would be lazy and just do the necessary stuff with that money. But here we have a movie that looks bigger, have a lot of extras, many special effects (though very uneven) and lots of action. Maybe that was the reason that it was big hit? This was at the end of the disaster-era, and I'm sure it was a big risk to take at this time. But Corman and his crew puts in a lot of entertainment. Not counting the avalanche, there's some very cool skiing footage, a mini-version of Death Race 2000 - but with snowmobiles and a lot of soap opera style drama. The way we want a good disaster-movie to be.
When the avalanche finally hits, it's impressive and cheap. It's a wild mix of new footage of people getting crushed, stock footage from nature documentaries, miniature work and visual effects. The later effects is most of that time not that good, but works because the editing is so effective and there's always a new victim to focus on in the next cut. This avalanche is also the most intensive I've seen in a movie, and there's a lot of cool and violent scenes that, judging only by content and not the quality of the effects, are among the best I've seen in the genre.
Now when Shout Factory has bough the rights to fifty of Cormans movies, I really hope that Avalanche is in there somewhere. Because it's now, when I watched the Australian Umbrella-disc, that I understand what a crappy version that is! Fullscreen, almost vhs-quality and a dark and murky print.
Give me a restored version now, or I will send Rock Hudson ghost on you all!