The Poseidon Adventure/ The Towering Inferno Ronald Neame / John Guillermin

The simultaneous release of two of the three greatest disaster pictures of the ’70s may be riding the wave of the recent Poseidon remake but they hardly need such an extravagant modern blockbuster to merit their reissuing. Like two peas in a pod, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno offer near exact commentaries (two for both), nine featurettes spanning everything from memories of the experience to special effects and of course, Irwin Allen’s colossal superstar-packed films. Shot on the actual Queen Mary in California, The Poseidon Adventure is a terrifying reminder of the greatest oceanic disaster of them all: Titantic. When a giant rogue wave capsizes a luxury liner, a small group of survivors takes a course of action to fight their way to the bottom of the ship. Gene Hackman leads as the heroic preacher, who’s joined by the arduous Ernest Borgnine, the jovial Red Buttons and the one and only Shelley Winters. In comparison to this year’s remake, Adventure may seem like a modest effort but its Oscar-winning visual effects still pack the same stunning punch through Allen’s grand vision and smart camera work.
The Towering Inferno as well maintains its fiery lustre, with an even stronger cast than its underwater counterpart. Starring Hollywood’s two biggest names at the time — Steve McQueen and Paul Newman — Inferno centres on the opening of the world’s tallest building, one that manages to catch fire when faulty wiring ignites a blaze. Also starring William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire and "the Juice,” O.J. Simpson, the film busies itself with its many characters but the spectacular devastation and blistering effects were enough to ensure that the actors were genuinely in harm’s way (which the featurettes explore further). Perhaps the most enjoyable attribute of these two films are their unprejudiced fatalities, allowing the viewer to be paralysed with anxiety anticipating which unexpected character will meet thy maker next. Episodes of Backstory offer the most attractive extras, giving a mini-doc for each, explaining how Allen got the films made and how he earned the nickname "Master of Disaster.” From struggling to get a budget for Adventure to racing to beat the opposition with Inferno, the producer’s driving influence is unquestionable. Little titbits of "behind the scenes” info are plentiful, such as the macho competition between McQueen and Newman, the differences between Holden and Dunaway, which ended in the actor physically threatening the actress, and yes, it is revealed that Shelley Winters was trained to swim for her memorable role. In comparison, the featurettes are dissected, dealing with specific subject matter that provides every need-to-know piece to each film. Why Airport, another star-studded Allen masterpiece, was left out of this bunch is a curious omission, but this fire/water combination gives two great adventures worth reliving again and again, for the teeming special features alone. Plus: deleted scenes, gallery, storyboard-to-film comparisons. (Fox)