Irwin Allen: Master Of Disaster Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Shout! Factory has collected many of the film and television works of the king of the disaster film, Irwin Allen, for a 7-disc box set. A load of mini-series, tv movies and feature films are hitting Blu-ray for the first time in this Irwin Allen: Master Of Disaster Collection box set. See notable stars like Michael Caine, Paul Newman or Sally Field do their best to save a town from a preventable nature disaster or escape a sinking ship. The films all come with new 2K scans from interpositives (1 film has a 2K scan from an original negative) and a few of them have alternate cuts, additional scenes and promotional materials as extras. This set was released on September 12th and you can order yourself a copy from the paid Amazon Associates link below.



Flood (1976)
Fire (1977)
Hanging By A Thread (1979)
Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979)
When Time Ran Out… (1980)
The Night The Bridge Fell Down (1980)
Cave-In! (1983)

The disaster movie had its hey dey back, launching in the 1970s and lasting in through the 1980s. And the king of said genre was that of director and producer Irwin Allen. That man alone cross pollinated through both film and television with notable disaster stories. Be it a feature length movie or a multi-night mini-series, his contributions were an event and attracted many a star to them. Whether it was someone looking to rejuvenate or one in their prime, the movies of Irwin Allen at least had some street cred on their marquee.

No matter the disaster or adventure that takes place in each film and the characters that populate them there a story beats, character types, arcs and plot devices that come into play in every single one of these movies. There is always the person who stumbles upon something funny that needs immediate attention of the disaster is imminent. An event, a survey, busy season or a government visit is on the horizon and cannot be moved or rescheduled. There’s usually the mayor from Jaws type that wants to dust all this under the rug and probably knew all along. Of course that antagonist gets their way and all hell breaks loose.

Along the way, we’ll find pregnant women that just so happen to go into labor when disaster strikes, old flames being meeting up for the first time in a while just before these action happens, and nefarious people coming out of their shell. The more stationary disaster tales will tend to deal in flashbacks to provide a breather from being in the same set for segments. Those flashbacks will fill us in on relationships and have their own revelations that may play into a big factor of the resolution of the main story or a subplot. These all range from stereotypical, to cheesy, to ridiculous. A fun game to play would be have a bingo card of Irwin Allen events during a disaster movie and do a little marathon of these flicks.

Two movies in this set are legit theatrical releases. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out… ramp up ont he production values and the star power for their adventures. They also both feel quite different thanks to the scale the budget and production values allow. However, that doesn’t necessarily make them more entertaining even if they are better to look out. The volcano based When Time Ran Out… may sport Paul Newman but it is quite a slog to make it through. Michael Caine fares much better in his sunken ship treasure hunt against Telly Savalas, but its still merely just solid.

Irwin Allen’s films via directed or produced fit into a certain kind of niche. I’m not sure they’d swoop in and find themselves a brand new, youthful audience. But as a nostalgia pinch, especially for a team when TV movies actually meant something, these movies should fill your cup pretty well. As a matter of fact, it was the TV movies and mini-series I enjoyed taking in more than the feature films. Sure, they are corner and quite silly, but there’s a cadence to them that comforts and is quite enjoyable.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (Flood, Fire, Hanging By A Thread, The Night The Bridge Fell Down, Cave-In!), 2.39:1 (Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, When Time Ran Out…)

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: All films in the set come from a 2K scan of their respective interpositive with the exception of Fire that features a 4K scan of the original camera negative. And really, I was going to write about each individual transfer, but they all very much look identical, both in terms of that and their overall appearance. Its a 70s/early 80s tv aesthetic and its very my uniform throughout. The only standout really being Fire as it carries more depth and detail being from the original negative. The two theatrical features look similar to one another and are a pretty basic looking transfer that feels it could be improved upon had better source materials been available. As a collection, while these aren’t going to wow anyone, they look very good and are likely enough to do the trick for most.

Depth: Depth of field is pretty rock solid on these and ranging from average to slightly above average. Movements are all filmic and smooth and with no issues of distortion caused by rapid action.

Black Levels: Black are deep and decently rich throughout. Detail hidden in shadows, darkness, night or fabric are very minimal. Grain picks up on films in darker areas. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are bold and pretty strong. Earthy colors like brown and green jump out and some of the fabrics, primarily red ones really pop throughout all the films. Yellows and blues also come across nicely.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures are easily discernible from any reasonable distance in the frame. The film Fire does best at this and hold much more facial information and is much clearer to see at further distances in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: None for majority of the films, though When Time Ran Out… tends to get noisy at moments with shots of brighter blue skies and some of the darker and grainier moments.


Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Like the video, all films in the set carry very similar sounding audio tracks. Clarity here – the TV movies/mini-series sounds similar and the feature films like one another. Impressively, all of them carry some really nice bass and deeper tones to make these mono tracks sound more full. Dialogue is of course at the forefront and is nicely taking charge of the mix though always sounding part of the action. Foley work and sound effects have some pretty good work on their layering and depth with some pretty solid impact considering how old and analog the sourcing is. None of these, even the movies, aren’t going to rock your room, but you may be surprised with what they are able to accomplish.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, carrying a slight analog hiss to them. They always blend in with the film’s environment whether it be raucous and loud or quiet and breezy.


Irwin Allen: Master Of Disaster Collection is a 7-Disc set with each movie being kept to its own disc.

Disc 1: Flood

Trailer (HD, 2:46)

Still Gallery (HD, 1:38)

Disc 2: Fire

Trailer (HD, 1:07)

Disc 3: Hanging By A Thread


Disc 4: Beyond The Poseidon Adventure

Trailer (HD, 2:06)

Still Gallery (HD, 8:14)

Extended TV Cut (SD, 2:25:04)

Sunday Night Movie Promo (HD, 1:04) – While encoded in HD, its from a VHS tape.

Beyond The Poseidon Adventure Sweepstakes Promo (HD, 1:24) – Video only, audio has been lost.

Disc 5: When Time Ran Out…

Still Gallery (HD, 3:06)

Extended Cut (SD, 2:23:18)

Additional Scenes From The Extended Cut (SD, 53:41)

Disc 6: The Night The Bridge Fell Down


Disc 7: Cave-In!



Irwin Allen: Master of Disaster Collection is a place of nostalgia from such a bygone era in both genre and media. Star driven tv movies and feature films revolving around disasters both in nature and man-made were the spectacle of their day on screens big and small. Are any of them great films? Not likely, but they sure are entertaining. Shout! Factory delivers them to Blu-ray for the first time with some rock solid transfer, good audio and some admirable extras where they are able to fill them in. This is definitely for the hardcore fan and collector of vintage TV and disaster features. Other may want to sample the material before purchase.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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