Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke (2003)
It's more than the Dam which is Broke
"Killer Flood" has one problem, it's a TV Movie, it has a TV Movie budget, it has TV Movie special effects and a TV Movie script which all combine to make for a less than enthralling disaster movie. But it has one good thing and that is a good idea because whilst you could say that the threat of a dam bursting is no different to the threat of a volcano erupting it still creates up some interesting ideas. It just never does any of these ideas a service instead delivering weak characters, weak effects and basically a movie which veers close to being so bad it becomes good for being cheesy.
With a big deal on the cards, corrupt business Matt Walker (Bruce Boxleitner - The Babe) is desperate to keep the issues with the dam he built a secret, preferring to lay blame on architect David Powell (Joe Lando - Devil Winds) who after being sacked during the build was forced to leave town, his wife and his son. But with the dam showing signs of danger David returns and is positive that because of Walker's skimping during construction the Dam is about to burst and has little time to convince everyone, including his estranged and bitter wife, who is acting Mayor, that they need to evacuate the town before the dam bursts.
So "Killer Flood" is basically your standard disaster movie and as already mentioned it shares a similarity with those volcano disaster movies, in fact it also shares some footage from "Dante's Peak". But as an idea I like it because whilst we get the less than surprising race against time to try and evacuate a town before the dam bursts we also get the entertaining attempts of a small group of people to delay the disaster by releasing the pressure in the dam. And we also get a bit more than this as we have a corrupt business man who built the dam to below standards desperately trying to lay the blame on the architect whilst also trying to delay the evacuation so he can line his pockets with a lucrative business deal to provide energy. These things whilst by no means original provide a basis for a good disaster movie especially as the architect David having become estranged from his wife and son is trying to clear his name and reconnect with them.
But no matter how decent the idea is what is delivered in "Killer Flood" is poor and the simple reason for that is that it is a TV movie made on a TV movie budget. As such the first thing which is poor are the special effects and it's hard not to laugh when you see the fake ness of the water supposedly engulfing the town. But that is not all as special effects up in the dam itself are just as weak and again you find it hard not to laugh when water erupts from a wall, the cleanest looking water you will ever see.
But even if you accept that the budget limitations mean special effects limitations the actual screenplay is also not good. Yes there is plenty of unoriginal ideas going on and it doesn't take a genius to work out that at some point David and his estranged son Garth will end up getting trapped in a locked room filling with water. But it seems that when it isn't going for the obvious it is going for the cheesy, from plans to try and release the pressure to escape attempts it is all incredibly bad. In fact when it comes to escape attempts one of the corniest scenes I have ever witnessed is in "Killer Flood".
And sadly the acting doesn't do much to make things better with Joe Lando trying to do all thoughtful as David the architect who basically returns to town and saves the day. It doesn't work but then it works better than Matthew Ewald as his son Garth and Michele Greene as his wife Natalie who just happens to be the stand in Mayor, thank goodness for coincidences. And when it comes to Bruce Boxleitner as evil businessman Matt Walker, well I swear he was trying not to laugh as he tries to be evil and covers his tracks.
Basically "Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke" is not a good movie and even when you make certain allowances for being a TV movie it is still not good. But it is a shame as a disaster movie surrounding a Dam bursting has great potential for a big budget, big effects spectacular, this just isn't it.
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