13 most explosive volcanic eruptions from sci-fi films and TV

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Iceland's recent volcanic eruption captivated most of the world—mainly because they were stranded at airports. Which got us thinking about all of the incredible volcanic activity in sci-fi.

With stunning visuals and earth-changing activity, it's no wonder volcanoes have been centerpieces in some classic (and not-so-classic) sci-fi films. Check out this ground-pounding list of 13 of sci-fi's biggest, most earth-rocking volcanic eruptions.


While critics agree this movie never reached the masterpiece status of numerical movies 2001, 1984 and THX 1138, it did feature one city-rocking volcanic eruption.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

When you base your evil empire upon a place called "Mount Doom," you get what's coming to you. That's a place you rent, not own.

When Time Ran Out

This disaster epic features many split ends, both in terms of the confusing plot and the lead actress' mop-hair. It's perhaps the cheesiest thing to feature Paul Newman's likeness (yes, even cheesier than Newman's Own Blue Cheese Dressing).

Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York

There's something about the fact that any 9-year-old science student can make a volcano that makes it a prime candidate for extra-low-budget disaster flicks. If only this film had had the foresight to hire a 9-year-old.


This eye-popping BBC docudrama highlights what happens when Mother Earth needs to exhale a giant cloud of smoke (while coughing violently).


This "film," set in Los Angeles, shows how a volcano can shoot lava bombs with high accuracy. It also lets us know the answer to the burning question "How would a subway driver react to a volcanic eruption?" (SPOILER ALERT: He's shocked, then deceased).

Dante's Peak

In a semi-unprecedented move, this volcano film actually had a budget. This 1997 film was quite a special-effects feast when it first debuted. By today's standards, it just looks like the Smoke Monster from Lost is really pissed at some family.


This timeless episode from the classic animated series of short films features Superman fighting a violent volcano. We're betting that, after it stopped erupting, the volcano threw its gun at Superman.

Magma: Volcanic Disaster

People often ask, "why does Syfy consistently produce excellent, high-budget films and show them on Saturday night?" The answer is simply that they are geniuses. Case in point: this 2006 film, which accurately predicted the eruption of an Icelandic volcano. Seriously, they're like Isaac Mendez.

Superman IV

The spectacular eruption occurs at 4:00. However we suggest you watch the entire epically awful battle between Superman and Nuclear Man. It makes drunken Kimbo Slice fights look like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon scenes.


This clip not only includes a giant volcano blowing chunks, but it also summarizes the movie's simple plot. It's your classic Boy-Meets-Albino-Gorillas-Meets-Laser-Cannons-Meets-Angry-Volcano-Meets-Girl story.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

This sci-fi masterpiece follows a group of explorers into middle-Earth. Not that Middle-earth, just the middle of the Earth. Also, if you're ever stuck in the middle of the Earth, don't blow up the entire room, that's never going to work.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

This updated version corrects the logistical problems introduced in the original film. Instead of blowing up the room, Brendan Fraser simply drops the ignition down the volcano shaft. One giant explosion, lava eruption and 1,000-foot fall later, they're just fine. It's simple science, folks.

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