Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Deluge (1933)

As we are introduced to a family man, and, briefly, a comely young swimmer, as earthquakes, storms and floods destroy civilization worldwide. In the aftermath, the swimmer is found and ‘housed’ by a couple of creeps, one of whom murders the other while the girl swims away. She washes up on shore near the hovel of the lonely family man, who accepts his family has died. As they fight off Creep #1 and the rape gang he joined up with, they fall in love. Meanwhile, in nearby ruins, family man’s family lives in a hardscrabble community. The settlement, too, is menaced by the gang, and they organize a posse to eliminate them. After a pitched gunfight and melee between bad guys and good guys, the man is reunited with his wife and children, but can’t give up his new love. The swimmer, heartbroken, makes her own bold choice.

The first 18 minutes of this 106 minute film are the earthquakes and tsunamis that destroy civilization. It’s kind of astonishing how much has changed but also how much has stayed the same with regards to special effects in the past 90 years. You can see the ‘scoring’ lines on the miniature buildings as they topple but the whole sequence manages to sell the disaster fairly convincingly and brutally, I was reminded of Emmerich disaster porn from the early 21st Century. The ‘last stand’ against the rape gang in family man’s tunnel is quite competent (I especially appreciate the attention to ammunition), and the conflict between the two love interests isn’t as catty as you’d expect (but certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test). As a rare film made prior to the Hays Code, Deluge contains suggestive scenes the likes of which you wouldn’t see in Hollywood films until 1968.

Tropes: post apocalyptic women have perfect makeup and hair; sexual assault; biblical interpretation; spunky kid wants to join mob but it turned away; town leader makes inspiring speech about a fresh start

Toren’s Rating: 5/10

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