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Sensurround

By Patrick Mondout

The history of the motion pictures can be measured by technological advances. The late 20s saw the introduction of sound, Technicolor came in the 1940s (though it wasn't until the late 1960s that color became dominant), the 1950s saw the fad of 3D movie while Dolby Surround Sound and computer graphics have been introduced more recently. What was the Super70s' addition to this great tradition? Sensurround.

Sensurround was a special-effects system developed by Universal Studios and introduced in 1974 which made the chairs in the theatre shake and vibrate during action scenes. The first movie to take advantage of the technology was Universal's Earthquake, which used the effect at every tremor. Theaters wishing to view Sensurround films in their full glory needed a decoding box, a special amplifier, and at least 10 very large speakers to produce the effect. Movie theatres today achieve the same effect by having chairs made of cheap material and turning the volume up over 120 decibels.

 

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 Your Memories Shared!

"I saw movies in sensurround in German cinemas. It was really the best and greatest experiences ever I have made. Specially the war-movie about "Midway" (Battle of Midway?). I thought by every bomb-explosions, the 3rd WW had begun. It`s a big pity, that no cinema in Germany shows movies which were made in Sensurround."

--Bernhard

"I remember seeing "Earthquake", when it first opened, at the Mann's Chinese theater in Hollywood. When the Sensesurround kicked in the deep bass "rumble" was so loud pieces of the ceramic ceiling tile began crumbling and fell onto the audience. I think they toned it down after that. One other film was made using Sensesurround..."Rollercoaster" with Timothy Hutton. You can see both films ever so often on late night TV. Albeit with out the aural excitment of "Sensesurround!""

--Catherine Bosley

"After watching Poseidon Adventure with my girlfriend, we decided to do a little online research. It lead us to the Super70s Disaster film genre. I was only 8 years old at the time of Earthquakes' premier but distinctly remember the trailers on television...EARTHQUAKE IN SENSURROUND! And yes, I also recall, the whole disaster film genre was starting to get a little 'old'.(laughs to self)

Melody brought up the point that all those 'downer movies' lead to the more lighthearted Airplane spoofs later that decade.

Thanks to Sensurround, Disco wasn't the only thing to come out of the Super70s.

Appreciate the nastalgic lookback and info!"

--Brian and Melody (NJ and KS)

 

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