heatwave film
Susan is possibly the most pointless character in the entire film. She does nothing and has no purpose

In the 70’s, filmmakers were desperate to make a disaster movie about anything, and in 1974 we had one about a Heatwave. No need for special effects, instead we just have people getting a bit sweaty. It’s camp, silly and very of its time without being too offensive to the viewer.

Released: 1974

Runtime: 90 minutes

The Execution

Heatwave! (don’t forget that exclamation mark!) is a tv movie and a by-product of a world that was in a disaster movie craze, like we suffer superhero movies currently. To signal the heat we simply have an outside thermometer displaying times and degrees of heat. Occasionally people feel faint, have a generally hot and sweaty look and maybe even have a wet shirt. Over the course of its run, a couple seem to get so uptight about being hot that they flee to the mountains and end up getting stuck there and having a baby prematurely. A few of the other characters have a few minutes to shine but its all about a couple that doesn’t initially appear to be very happy together, but slowly bands together over their plight. In typical lemming fashion, they decide to do silly things and get into more difficult situations until our leading lady decides now is the time to give birth to her baby with no water, fuel, oxygen or support! When there are no effects at hand, acting and script come to the fore and neither are particularly great, although there’s nothing too offensive – it’s just that you can smell the budget from afar and it stinks.

The Effects

There are none whatsoever. NEXT!

Laura is already rolling her eyes at Frank and they’ve not even got out of bed yet. She’s definitely slumming it!

Why It’s Worth Watching

It’s an obscure, low budget entry into the disaster movie pantheon and so I came in intrigued from that viewpoint. Most of Heatwave! is a soap opera of being mugged, fainting, running out of drinking water and being dramatic. However, the interesting bits are left to the side of the movie. All the power goes out but no one seems to bother much. Water is rationed but as the movie then moves away from the city, it’s not dealt with much aside from everyone saying how thirsty they are. There are mentions of forest fires off screen but little consequences seem to happen from them as a result. Instead, the film focuses on the baby and idiots trying to profit in a crisis instead of helping out. There was scope for a lot more to be done here, and there’s some really weirdly drawn out scenes that make the film feel like it was desperate to pad out for a certain length too. Intriguing – just maybe not very good. There are also some really funny camp moments. A woman collapses in the street and rolls about a bit because she’s hot. Frank gets beat up by an old man. He also has a row with a cafe owner because he is limiting water in a heatwave because they’ve nearly run out. He tries to carry his wife and then can’t cope with it. He is pretty rubbish as a hero and that’s quite entertaining.

Drinking Game

Frank and Laura going from shouty to loving to shouting to loving over and over again – usually because Frank is an idiot.

Favourite Character

No one is particularly unlikable but nor are they given any time to be likeable either. The only normal woman is the owner of the launderette and she has two scenes.

How can I be more irritable and ineffective as a husband now?

Weirdest Moment

Arnold Brady’s whole character as a friendly wheeler-dealer is weird from the get-go. His initial scene is the best though. He spots our couple and proceeds to give them the creepiest sales pitch for beer. Did sales really take place like this back then?! GDPR would have updated his privacy policy years ago…

Also, as a blond-haired Englishman – during the entire film which is meant to be at 117 degrees Celcius – not once did any character use sun cream! I’d have been bright red and burnt to a crisp in the first hour!!!

Random Trivia

Some 10 years later Laura, our pregnant lead, would go on to star as Holly Mclaine in the Die Hard franchise. A different kind of heat!


Really more a drama than a disaster movie, it might make you reach for a drink but not because of its hot on-screen antics, more because it’s better fun to enjoy this camp and non-sensical film with alcohol.

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