Starring: Dean Cain, Robin Givens, Tamara Goodwin, Matt Mercer, Morgan West, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
VAUGHN – “My name is Private Vaughn. Can you tell me what your situation status is?”
LANDON – “Uh, sure, situation status. Uh, we lost both our pilots, we nearly crashed, we nearly blew up and there’s this guy up here who’s super close to a psychotic meltdown. Oh, and we’re flying in the middle of a ring of volcanoes.”
VAUGHN – “Okay, Roger that.”
Usually B-movie studio The Asylum is best known for its mockbuster films, capitalising on the success of big movies by churning out similar sounding imitations.
Snakes On A Train, Android Cop, Atlantic Rim – these are the typical offerings you’d expect from The Asylum, conveniently released around the same time as their big-budget soundalikes (in this case Snakes On A Plane, Robocop and Pacific Rim).
Airplane vs Volcano attempts to cash in not on a big movie, but seemingly on a big news story – namely, the volcanic ash clouds that grounded flights back in 2010.
Naturally, though, only the basic set-up is the same. The subsequent film that follows is fucking ridiculous.
Choosing not to piss around too much, Airplane vs Volcano kicks off right away with a massive volcano erupting and melting some poor bastard who was studying it.
We then quickly jump to the film’s main setting, a passenger airplane unwittingly flying over the volcano. Within minutes ash and rogue fireballs start causing problems and before too long both pilots have been killed by a cockpit explosion, leaving the plane in autopilot.
Cue the inevitable frantic hunt for someone who can fly a plane and the convenient revelation that passenger Rick Pierce – played by one-time Superman Dean Cain – claims he can indeed fly. The plane I mean, not Superman-style.
Half of Rick’s fellow passengers are a hilarious collection of clichés. There’s the aging air marshall with the heart of gold, the token worried mother and sick child, and even a mildly offensive ‘bearded foreign accent man’ who goes a wee bit batshit and tries to storm the cockpit.
The other half have oddly appropriate areas of expertise that come in almost a little too handy. Other than the obvious example of Dean Cain being a pilot, another chap knows how to hack his tablet so it can make distress calls, and – get this – another just happens to be a bloody volcano expert.
It’s up to Rick to safely navigate the plane through the volcano (and the other eight volcanoes that have seemingly sprouted out next to it as a result of its eruption) and land the plane safely. But will he make it? You might be surprised.
If you were expecting a realistic interpretation of what may happen in the unlikely event of a plane flying over an active volcano, you might as well go ahead and jam those expectations up the nearest cow’s arse.
Almost every element of Airplane vs Volcano’s plot is brilliantly unlikely, to the point that you start to think screenwriters James & Jon Kondelik were deliberately trying to come up with as many scientific impossibilities as possible.
• When the aforementioned hacker manages to get his tablet working, he’s somehow able to contact the military on the same radio frequency the plane uses.
• At one point a big cloud of smoke rolls across the sea and goes over a beach, instantly turns everyone to ash, then disappears without a trace.
• Even though the autopilot’s on, somehow Rick is able to slightly control the plane’s movement by pulling the control column really hard.
• Volcanoes are apparently 800 miles wide because this plane somehow continues to fly over one for the entire 90-minute duration of the film.
Speaking of disappearing, keep an eye on the first explosion you see in this GIF I made:
Now, I’m no expert on explosions but I reckon that’s a bundle of old arse.
As the flight progresses and countless hurdles are thrown at Rick and the rest of the passengers, the various incidents only continue to increase in ludicrousness.
At one point they need to activate the emergency fuel dump switch, which it turns out is underneath the cockpit in a hard-to-reach location.
The only way to flick the switch is to crawl on the floor and blindly stretch your arm under the cockpit: and even then, not everyone can reach it. I’ve got very little experience in designing aircraft but I’d imagine in an emergency you’d want that sort of shit within easy reach.
Even more absurdly, later in the film an engine breaks down and it’s decided the best way to fix it is to create a daisy chain of seat belts, tie it round someone and fling them out the plane door so they can hit the engine with a hammer. I’m being completely serious.
And then, just to prove the writers have no clue how planes work, the roof is ripped off and people start getting sucked out – even though opening the door earlier was fine.
I could go on but I think you get the point. Airplane vs Volcano is about as accurate as Pinocchio’s diary but what makes it so entertaining is how completely straight it plays all this.
Whereas Sharknado, another of The Asylum’s creations, is quite clearly a daft piss-take, there isn’t the slightest hint of a wink or a nod in this one.
All this does is make it even funnier, right down to the final set-piece in which Rick makes a ridiculously illogical decision in an attempt to save the day. But you’ll need to see it to find out what that is.
And you really should see it if you find the time. The production values are laughable (hence the above GIF) and the performances wouldn’t look out of place in a Dreamcast game, but watch it with a group of pals and you’ll find yourselves regularly erupting with laughter.
Because, you know… volcanoes.
Airplane vs Volcano is mental enough to make it into TWABM’s special Proper Mental List, a section dedicated to the very maddest films featured on the site. Click here to see what other insanity it joins.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Airplane vs Volcano has yet to be released in the UK but you can import the German DVD from Amazon UK. In the US you can get it on either DVD or Blu-ray (both of which amazingly claim on the cover to be “based on a true story”). Alternatively, if you have access to the US Netflix library (and find out how to here if you don’t), you can find it there.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: