For several weeks a volcano in the Canary Islands archipelago has been attracting the attention of the press around the world. The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma has already destroyed more than a thousand buildings and forced about 6,000 people to leave their homes. On YouTube, it’s easy to find live streams, 24hrs a day, of the volcano’s activity. The sights and sounds of the lava being expelled from the volcano are impressive.
Cinema has tried to copy this phenomenon of nature several times. They are “catastrophe” style (or disaster) movies that try to portray what happens during the eruption of these lava cauldrons. According to the time the movie was released, the quality of the special effects is quite different. In some cases, these effects are unconvincing and even ridiculous, but we have to take into account that the technology used in the movies was very rudimentary 40 or 50 years ago.
We’ve prepared a list of the best movies about volcanoes, or at least the most interesting, Volcano movies that Hollywood has ever produced.
The Devil At 4 O’Clock (1961)
The Devil at 4 O’Clock is a 1961 adventure film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra. Based on a 1958 novel with the same title by British writer Max Catto.
The film was a precursor to Krakatoa, East of Java, and the disaster films of the 1970s, such as The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, and The Towering Inferno.
Spencer Tracy plays a cranky priest who drinks to excess who asks help from three criminals to help him rescue a group of children from an island before a volcano destroys everything.
The film deals with multiple issues of prejudice, against age, blindness, disease, and alcoholism.
Krakatoa, East Of Java (1969)
Krakatoa, East of Java is a 1968 disaster film starring Maximilian Schell (captain of a steamer) and Brian Keith (diver).
The story is loosely based on events surrounding the 1883 eruption of the volcano on the island of Krakatoa. The characters engaged in the recovery of a cargo of pearls from a shipwreck perilously close to the volcano.
The film won nominated for the Academy Award for Best Special Visual Effects.
When Time Ran Out… (1980)
The guests of a new luxury hotel on a Pacific island are endangered when an oil exploration project triggers a volcanic eruption. The movie is marginally based on the 1969 novel The Day the World Ended by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts.
The history detail the factual 1902 volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée on Martinique, which killed 30,000 people in five minutes by a pyroclastic flow. It marked the second and final time Newman and Holden appeared in a film together, following the box office triumph of The Towering Inferno.
When Time Ran Out…, however, was a commercial flop and Allen’s. Despite the critical and commercial disappointment, won nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
St. Helens (1981)
St. Helens, a dramatization of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens (Washington). Directed by Ernest Pintoff, and starring David Huffman, Art Carney, Cassie Yates, and Albert Salmi.
The movie begins with the volcano’s awakening on March 20 and ends with its eruption on May 18, 1980.
The history centers on the events leading up to the cataclysmic 1980 eruption of the volcano. The film premiered on HBO, on May 18, 1981, on the first anniversary of the eruption.
Joe Versus The Volcano (1990)
Joe Versus the Volcano follows the adventures of hypochondriac Joe Banks (Tom Hanks), who sets out on a suicide mission to jump into a volcano.
He is always convinced he has some kind of malady, so when a doctor (Robert Stack) tells him that he’s suffering from a terminal illness, he feels more vindicated.
A mysterious multimillionaire drops by his apartment the next day and offers an all-expenses-paid trip to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. His mission is to jump into a volcano as soon as he arrives.
But Joe finds love along the way.
Dante’s Peak (1997)
The film is set in the fictional town of Dante’s Peak, where the inhabitants fight to survive a volcanic eruption from a long-dormant stratovolcano that has suddenly woken up.
The film was released on February 7, 1997, under the production of Universal Pictures and Pacific Western Productions. Despite mostly negative reviews, it was a box office success and has since gained a cult following among disaster film aficionados.
Volcano (1997) disaster film directed by Mick Jackson, a storyline inspired by the 1943 formation of the Parícutin volcano, Mexico.
The film stars Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Don Cheadle, and Keith David. It tells the story of the head of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management, which has complete authority in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. He attempts to divert the path of a dangerous lava flow through the streets of Los Angeles, following the formation of a volcano at the La Brea Tar Pits.
The Core (2003)
The Core science fiction disaster film directed by Jon Amiel and starring Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Tchéky Karyo, and Bruce Greenwood.
The film focuses on a team whose mission is to drill to the center of the Earth and set off a series of nuclear explosions in order to restart the rotation of the Earth’s core. Released on March 28, 2003, by Paramount Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $74 million worldwide with a production budget of $85 million.
“Supervolcano” is a British-Canadian disaster film that originally aired on 13 March 2005 on BBC One, released by the BBC on 10 April 2005 on the Discovery Channel. It is based on the speculated and potential eruption of the volcanic Yellowstone Caldera, in Yellowstone National Park. Its tagline is “Scientists know it as the deadliest volcano on Earth. You know it… as Yellowstone”.
Krakatoa: The Last Days (2006)
The volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 is the second-greatest volcanic eruption in recorded history. The first eruption happened in 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, only 68 years earlier.
It set off a series of terrifying tsunamis, destroying entire towns and islands. Devastating the coastlines of Sumatra and Java, and killing about 36,500 people.
Now, in a cycle of death and rebirth, the offspring of this legendary volcano are growing at the same place. For decades, all that marked the site of the original 2,640-foot-high island was a tiny islet that survived the explosion. But in 1930 a new volcano broke through the water at the center of the old. Over 70 years on, a build-up of pulsating magma is now pushing upward at an astounding pace.