Top 10 Volcano Movies!

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Be real, what kind of natural disaster are you most fearful of? Coming from California, you’d think mine would be earthquakes. Uh uh. Twisters. Tornadoes. Dust Devils. Violently spinning spires of wind and debris…that I want no part of. Ever. How about you?

We ask because, as you may know, JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM opens wide next Friday. And a key plot point in the film has to do with a violent volcanic eruption that unleashes all kinds of mayhem as the dinosaurs exit the park. Sick shite! But of course it got us to thinking about all the volcano movies that have come out over the years, and we’ve whittled down what we think are the ten best to keep your attention. Let’s be honest, most volcano movies are absolute garbage, but we’ve handpicked a double-fistful we think you’ll enjoy. Sound good? Dip into our Top 10 Volcano Movies below!

#1. VOLCANO (1997)

It’s Hotter than Hell! Remember when Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for telling Harry Ford, “I don’t care” in THE FUGITIVE? Yeah well, the sentiment surely doubled when reading the script for VOLCANO, but since it offered a starring role, TLJ cashed the f*ck in. Oh we jape, and yet here VOLCANO sits atop the perch. Why? The glorious sight of greater Los Angeles being melted down by a spitting cauldron of flaming hot lava is too big a fantasy to land anywhere else. Come on, Mt. Wilshire? We should all be so lucky! Big, dumb, B-movie fun with killer cameos from Don Cheadle, Keith David, John Carroll Lynch and Michael Rispoli.

#2. DANTE’S PEAK (1997)

Damn, not even the combo of 007 and Sarah Connor could quell the magma-belching mountain in DANTE’S PEAK, the first of two huge-budgeted volcano spectacles released in 1997. Scientifically, this is probably the better movie, as it follows a volcanologist summoned to a quaint town recently named the second most desirable place to live in the U.S. That is, until a previously thought dormant volcano – Dante’s Peak – suddenly erupts. Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton run the show under the decent direction of Roger Donaldson, although we have to wait 53 minutes for the main volcanic eruption, the crater scenes of which were filmed at Mount St. Helens.

#3. STROMBOLI (1950)

Great neo-realist Italian director Roberto Rossellini essayed his own epic volcanic drama via the 1950 film STROMBOLI, starring Ingrid Bergman. Admittedly far more of a gripping drama than harrowing thriller, the impending doom and underlying dread of a looming volcanic blast still provides a visceral sense of despair. The title STROMBOLI refers to the town that a young fisherman resides in and invites his new love (Bergman) to at. Problem is, the village lies at the foot of an active volcano, and Bergman can’t quite assimilate to her new perilous surroundings. As far as overall cinematic achievement is concerned (not just FX), this is probably the highest quality volcano movie ever attempted.


The fearless and peerless Werner Herzog actually attempted a serious narrative drama about the societal impact of volcanic activity. It’s called SALT AND FIRE, and frankly isn’t that great. However, Herzog’s blistering 2016 Netflix documentary, INTO THE INFERNO, is an intimate and up-close account of researchers braving their way into the mouth of madness…angry volcanic activity! In addition to the soul-soothing narration of Herzog, as always, his documentary work plumbs depths of his subject far better than any narrative feature could. INTO THE INFERNO’s breathtaking imagery devoid of artifice is profound as it is thrilling!


SUPERVOLCANO is a riveting 2005 docu-fiction TV-movie that first aired in BBC One. It presents the case as if it were not only real, but dangerously imminent, as Yellowstone National Park suddenly reveals itself to be cornered by a Caldera Volcano, a giant cauldron-like depression formed by explosive magma. Here’s the thing though: such a caldera actually exists in Yellowstone! With loads of credible scientific info: data charts, graphs, interviews, simulations, etc., SUPERVOLCANO plays in retrospect after a cataclysmic Yellowstone explosion, told from the perspective of leading scientists. If nothing else, this is the most realistic volcano flick to date!

#6. THE DEVIL AT 4 O’CLOCK (1961)

Spencer Tracy and Ol’ Blue Eyes. Together? F*ck me, that alone would be good enough to indulge in THE DEVIL AT 4 O’CLOCK, so when you factor in this early disaster flick is centered on a mission to rescue a gaggle of kiddies from a smoldering volcano, yup, all the more attractive! Directed by Mervyn LeRoy (THE WIZARD OF OZ), the flick follows a rusty old codger of a priest (Tracy) who enlists the help of three grizzled cons to help save an adolescent leper colony from being engulfed in lava. The volcano in the film was built from scratch in California, and required hundreds of pounds of explosives to achieve a single shot. The eruptions looked so good that footage from this film has been recycled by many other movies, commercials, etc. The DEVIL’s in the details yo!

#7. ST. HELENS (1981)

Art Carney, who won an Oscar for one of my favorite films, HARRY AND TONTO, stars in the decent dramatic retelling of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Taking place over the two months in 1980 when the infamous volcanic mountain awoke, raged, erupted and extinguished, ST. HELENS was actually shot in Bend, Oregon. In fact, Mount Bachelor in Oregon’s central Cascade range was used for the pre-eruption scenes in the film. The story includes the death of real life volcanologist David Jackson who died at the base of the mountain upon eruption. If that’s not good enough for ya, consider the kickass score by Italian rock band Goblin (SUSPIRIA)!


Currently in development to be remade (at least in name), the rollicking 1974 international Disney film THE ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD is quite a sight to behold. The action harks back to 1907, where an expedition team is sent out to find a man who went on his own exploratory journey to find a secret Viking community. The problem? The community is steeped in an Arctic volcanic valley that’s damn near impossible to navigate. OLD YELLER and MARY POPPINS director Robert Stevenson injects an adventurous spirit into the film, doing so from a script written by Joss Whedon’s grandfather John. What, you thought Joss had enough talent alone, sans nepotism? Please!

#9. POMPEII (2014)

Full disclosure, I personally missed this one, so instead defer to our man Chris Bumbray’s 6/10 review-rating to make the following case. POMPEII, despite being an overly schmaltzy romance, has some legitimately harrowing volcanic sequences involving perhaps the most infamous mounts of all time: Vesuvius. Set in 79 A.D., Game of Thrones star Kit Harrington’s chiselled abs do all they can to wade through a hissing sea of bubbling hot lava, doing so under the hit-or-miss direction of Paul W.S. Anderson. Emily Browning is on Kit’s arm throughout, while Kiefer Sutherland hams it up as the senatorial heavy Corvus. Silly movie, sure, but it has some of the most recent technology to render a spectacular volcanic blast.


Despite the hilariously erroneous title that boasted Krakatoa lying EAST of Java (rather than west, as it actually happens to be), the 1969 rescue mission adventure movie is still a damn good time! The story is set in the late 1800s and follows Captain Hanson’s salvage expedition on his boat Batavia Queen. Out to locate and retrieve a cache of pearls held in the cargo bay of a shipwrecked sloop, the number one obstacle impeding their way is a raging active volcano situated right next to the sunken ship. Shot in Todd-AO, exhibited in Sensurround (aka feelarama), this guilty, gimmicky novelty dashes in a spicy amount of camp with its depiction of the most devastating volcanic explosion in history.

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