The Hoosierist: Boom, Baby

Has any disaster or sci fi film shown the Circle City circling the drain in spectacularly disastrous fashion?
Illustration by Ryan Johnson

Q: NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES GET DESTROYED ALL THE TIME IN SCI FI AND DISASTER MOVIES. HAS INDIANAPOLIS EVER GOTTEN WHACKED IN FILM? A: Indy has never had its bricks flipped by an earthquake, kaiju, alien battle fleet, or any other trope. But Terre Haute, of all places, has. The city was destroyed in the 1982 Steve Martin vehicle Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, in which Martin’s character saves the entire U.S. from destruction—except for poor Terre Haute. At the time, Martin had a love-hate relationship with the city. He played a gig there in 1978 and afterward couldn’t find an open restaurant. A few months later, he referred to it in a Playboy interview as “Nowhere, USA.” But there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Martin was invited back in 1979 for a municipal tour, and then, as a goodwill gesture, he premiered his first film, The Jerk, at a downtown theater. His Plaid character eulogized the town by saying, “Damn. They were just about to get a public library.”