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across the streaming-verse

Best of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Streaming: Disaster Movies

This weekend, as you search for a movie to watch, you can either see Into the Storm or pick one of approximately 14 billion options available on streaming over a variety of services, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, On Demand, or other sites. Every Friday, Vulture tries to make life easier by narrowing it down to a handful of heartily recommended options. This week, disaster movies from the man vs. nature mold, an indie comedy that subverts expectations, and that movie-size meme you've been desperately avoiding.

It's a Disaster (2012)
People in disaster movies often find themselves in harm's way, and they are either forced to flee into the apocalyptic scene outside or idiotically do so on their own volition. In his Clue-like dark comedy It's a Disaster, writer-director Todd Berger wonders what would happen if normal people remained indoors for the slow demise of humanity. When a series of dirty bombs go off during a routine couples brunch, a close-knit group of friends — including David Cross, America Ferrera, and Julia Stiles — scramble to seal the house and take safety precautions. After hunkering down, the major threat becomes wringing each other's necks. With a twisted sense of humor, It's a Disaster preys on genre tropes while unearthing honest human behavior from a comedy-skewing cast. The rare indie romp that avoids implosion. (Stream on Netflix, Hulu; rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Xbox.)

Crack in the World (1965)
“They don't make 'em like they used to!” Oh, but they do. Every bit the dopey disaster movie a modern destruction enthusiast would hope for, this sci-fi parable wags its finger at the brainy elite with all the kitsch of a Godzilla movie. A group of scientists, led by Dana Andrews, believe they can harness Earth's geothermal power by blasting a nuclear bomb into the final layer of rock. “Epic fail” has never been more apt. Though his contemporaries beg him to reconsider, Andrews pulls the trigger, releasing a pocket of hydrogen that sends fissures running through the planet. Their solution to defeating this natural disaster? Another nuclear bomb! Co-starring Janette Scott and Kieron Moore, Crack in the World is a series of gasps, overdramatic declarations, and killer action sequences conducted by Andrew Marton, a second-unit director known for his work on the chariot race in Ben-Hur. (Stream on Amazon Prime.)

Aftershock (2012)
Fans of Eli Roth's gory filmography will enjoy this disaster-horror hybrid, produced, written, and starring the Cabin Fever director. Where an “artier” film might allow its thrills to trickle out, Aftershock doubles down and piles it on. It's not enough that a massive earthquake devastates a roaming party of model types and vacationing bros. Roth and Chilean director Nicolás López decide their victims need a psychopathic adversary, too. As the faceless characters run and jump through the disaster-made obstacle course, an anarchical gang hunts them down for their own sadistic purposes. Aftershock is a grimy movie — cheap design, cheap script, cheap (albeit effectively gross) effects. It's okay with that. It's the Roth way. (Stream on Netflix; rent on Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play.)

Dante's Peak (1997)
The year 1997 saw heated debate over which studio volcano movie offered the most “Explosive!” thrills. Sorry, bluntly titled, Tommy Lee Jones–vehicle, Volcano! Cable repeats prove Dante's Peak was made to last. Starring James Bond (the Pierce Brosnan one) and Sarah Connor (the Linda Hamilton one), Species and Thirteen Days director Roger Donaldson hurls his characters into a volcanologist's nightmare, one extreme scenario after another (and with two kids in tow, for that faux-Spielberg effect). There's no sympathy on-screen. In the movie's essential moment, one character self-sacrifices by jumping into a pool of sulfuric acid to push a deteriorating boat to safety. Dante's Peak is devilish, trumping Volcano's snooze-fest. (Stream on Hulu Plus; rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Target Ticket.)

Sharknado (2013)
Just in case you missed out on this shlock phenomenon and wanted to play catch up: It's there when you're ready. (Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus.)

Armageddon (1998) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon.)
Contagion (2011) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Xbox.)
The Day After Tomorrow
(2004) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Target Ticket.)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
(1961) (Rent on Amazon.)
Deep Impact
(1998) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Target Ticket.)
Earthquake
(1974) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Target Ticket.)
The High and the Mighty
(1954) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Target Ticket.)
The Hindenburg
(1975) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Xbox.)
In Old Chicago
(1937) (Rent on Amazon, Xbox.)
Last Days of Pompeii
(1935) (Rent on Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Target Ticket.)
A Night to Remember
(1958) (Rent on iTunes, Amazon.)
Pompeii
(2014) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Xbox.)
The Poseidon Adventure
(1972) (Stream on Amazon Prime; rent on Vudu, Amazon.)
San Francisco
(1936) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Target Ticket.)
Titanic
(1997) (Stream on Netflix; rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon.)
Tornado
(1943) (Stream on Amazon Prime.)
The Towering Inferno
(1974) (Rent on Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Target Ticket.)
When Time Ran Out
... (1980) (Rent on Amazon.)
2012
(2009) (Rent on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon.)

Photo: Oscilloscope Pictures, Olive Films and Universal Films