10. Hard Rain (1998) – Final Battle
Guns blazing, jet skis crashing through windows, and fire burning inside of a flooding church, all over a bag of $3 million dollars. This is the finale set piece of the aquatic action flick “Hard Rain” which depicts Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater trying to protect $3 million dollars inside of a church that’s filling with water in a flooding town. The bad guys bust through the windows, the dam breaks, Christian Slater races to a sinking house to rescue Minnie Driver who’s handcuffed to a staircase, and then it all ends nice and neatly in an explosive boat chase.
9. Maximum Overdrive (1986) – Drawbridge
Stephen King’s first and last directorial debut, “Maximum Overdrive”, puts the world up against possessed machinery gone awry – Trucks, lawnmowers, steam rollers, arcade machines, airplanes, you name it – All have turned against their owners and creators, much thanks to the tail of a passing comet which the Earth is trapped in for eight days. This opening sequence focuses on a man-operated drawbridge that becomes self aware and decides to open up with the dozens of vehicles passing over it, killing and injuring many in the process. Oh and the AC/DC soundtrack here is quite a nice touch.
8. Jurassic Park (1993) – T-Rex Escape
Imagine being trapped in a tourist attraction with no power in a jeep during a drenching rainstorm, right next to a high voltage electric fence (that doesn’t work) that houses a T-Rex. Not a comfy feeling, isn’t it? Steven Spielberg effectively exploits that fear and suspense in this action sequence. With the power down all throughout Jurassic Park, the T-Rex takes it upon himself to escape past the electric fence and check out the five humans who are sitting within the two tourist jeeps. It’s amazing how much action and suspense was handled so well in such a small location, spanning from the side of a road to a giant tree that leads down a cliff.
7. The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – Flooding of New York City
This was more scary than the destruction of New York in Emmerich’s earlier film, “Independence Day”. Due to the effects of global warming, the freshly-melted polar caps have raised the ocean levels and has decided to show low-lying coastal areas like New York City who’s boss. Starting from the Statue of Liberty, watch as the Atlantic submerges the Big Apple from the southern tip all the way to the New York Public Library. This is some of the best flooding footage ever filmed.
6. Die Hard (1988) – Roof Explosion
While trying to lure the hostages off of a skyscraper roof that’s wired to explode, John McClaine is mistaken for being a terrorist and attacked by a police chopper holding two gun-crazy FBI agents. Tension rises as the chopper chases him across the roof. But then, the bad guys down below decide to detonate the roof and all goes up into the air as John McClaine leaps off with a fire hose wrapped around his waist. Meanwhile, as the roof crumbles, the chopper crashes down onto it, causing even more destruction. McClaine fortunately escapes by shooting and swinging through a glass window down below. To quote one of the film’s characters, this building is going to need one heck of a paint job… and a whole lot more.
5. Alien: Resurrection (1997) – Underwater Kitchen/Lift Shaft
Ripley 8, a group of space pirates, an evil scientist, and a soldier must band together if they’re going to make it out of an Earth-bound spaceship that’s infested with aliens. In this sequence, they must swim through a kitchen which has been flooded by the ship’s broken cooling tanks. But not so fast, the other end of the kitchen has been cocooned by the beasts, the group is running out of breath, and two aliens are closing in on them! They lose one crew member but kill one of the aliens as well. Luckily, they manage to break through to the lift shaft on the other side but hold it… they’re surrounded by alien eggs on all sides, it’s another trap! It’s a good thing one of them has a grenade launcher. The action continues into the lift shaft as the remaining alien chases them up a ladder. As the group takes another hit, one of the crewmen pulls a risky stunt as he hangs upside down from the ladder to shoot the beast with duo pistols. This was perhaps the best sequence from the entire film, the original scripted version was much more epic than what was seen here; even though it’s a suspenseful sequence, it could have used a lot more than what it had (i.e. the eggs are fine, but only two aliens? Plus, that lift shaft is somewhat small).
4. Dawn of the Dead (1978) – Blocking the Entrances and Clearing the Mall
Our four heroes of the film must work as a team to secure their new home, the Monroeville Shopping Mall, from the hordes of zombies that roam outside and within. This sequence is broken up into two parts; the first has the two SWAT guys (Peter and Roger) wiring some nearby trucks to block the four entrances while the chopper pilot (Stephen) and his news anchor girlfriend (Fran) watch their backs from the roof and the helicopter. While the plan with trucks does prove successful at first, Roger unfortunately loses touch with reality and has one too many close encounters with the infected, so many that one of them ends with him getting bitten (twice, mind you). Then, with the entrances blocked, they break into the mall’s gun shop and arm up to the teeth so that they could lock the doors within the mall and take care of the dead left inside. How do they do this? Well, their hot wire expert (Roger) is still good for something despite his injuries, they start up a display car and use it to get from door to door in the mall while shooting the zombies in the process. Both parts are equally suspenseful and very well executed, plus there’s an awesome Goblin soundtrack to go along with it. These two sequences are yet another reason to prefer the original over the remake.
3. The Towering Inferno (1974) – Blowing the Cooling Tanks
After several hopeless attempts to stop a raging fire inside the world’s tallest skyscraper, our two heroes (played by Paul Newman and Steve MacQueen) plant timed explosives on the building’s cooling tanks that are just below the roof but right above the ballroom where groups of survivors await to be rescued from the inferno that rages on below them. Everyone must tie themselves to something solid to avoid being dragged out the window by the water, but it all doesn’t go exactly as planned. Cue the stunts, cue the explosions, and enjoy the ultimate water ride of your life inside of a flooding ballroom on top of a high rise; if you thought indoor water parks were fun, wait until you see this.
2. Backdraft (1991) – Chemical Plant Fire
The ending of Ron Howard’s firefighting epic has all the blazing action one could ask for in a firefighter flick. This is the final fire of the film and it is a grand one. The setting is a large chemical plant with a hazardous fire that is way out of control, not even the dozens of fire trucks outside can calm this beast down. After learning that his brother’s closest firefighter buddy is the one starting the fires, William Baldwin rushes to the roof of the chemical plant to warn him but the two are already in a heated argument, so to speak. It’s not long before the roof begins tear apart and collapse; Baldwin makes a dash for the fire escape, but just as he works his way down, an explosion throws him into a flooded elevator shaft. His brother (Kurt Russell) comes to the rescue and the two must now work their way out of the raging inferno around them, but not so fast as they’re confronted by the arsonist again. Barrels pummel into the air, walls and ceilings crumble, sparks fly, and catwalks break apart. This is pyrotechnics at its best!
1. Titanic (1997) – Final Sinking
Even better than pyrotechnics is flooding the actual set of a ship in gallons upon gallons of water, breaking it apart, and turning it sideways with hundreds of people on it. Real stunts with little computer effects required. I said it before and I’ll say it again, James Cameron is a genius. This is almost similar to the flooding of the ballroom in “The Towering Inferno” except on a much grander scale and with an apocalyptic touch to it. Watch as the waters of the Atlantic burst into the grand staircase, swallow the bridge, corridors, and all areas of the most unsinkable ship on Earth. Then watch as the ship is torn in half and as the back of the ship bops in the water like a skyscraper just before it makes the final descent. This is almost like a ride that’s right out of Universal Studios theme park.