Sometimes this film manages to be so bad that it is hilarious.
  • OVERALL
    0.5
    HORRIBLE
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Sometimes this film manages to be so bad that it is hilarious.
THE BAD
This leads to my next point: the film is still bad
THE FEATURE
At this point in cinematic history, it is difficult for me to understand disaster movies. No matter how many of them are released or remade, critics and audiences continue to bash them beyond repair. However, they still come out on a regular basis despite their inevitable absurdity. Everything from tornadoes to volcanoes to earthquakes has been portrayed on film and television in all their fury. While disaster films have slowly declined from the movie theater scene, they continue to be pumped out on cable television. One of the most recent instances is Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York.

In case you haven't already gathered from the lengthy, intelligence-insulting title that this film is indeed about a volcano in New York City. Yes, that is right. The threat of vicious eruptions does not rest in Hawaii, but in the heard of the Big Apple. Matt (Costas Mandylor) and his gang of blue collar "Sandhogs" are tunneling under the great city with explosives when they discover a spring of liquid, hot lava. After a couple of his men are killed by acidic steam, his geologist ex- wife Susan (Alexandra Paul) steps in to investigate the situation. After a few awkward conversations about their failed marriage, Susan and Matt discover more than they had expected to find. Thanks to the top-secret experiments of a mad scientist (Michael Ironside), NYC is about to become the target of a fiery apocalypse. Can Matt, Susan, and the Sandhogs save the city, and the USA from possible destruction? Yes they can.

When you throw together Alexandra Paul and a volcano premise in a made-for-TV movie, it is obvious that Disaster Zone is well...a disaster. If a television movie ever captures natural disasters in a serious, accurate tone, I will be pleasantly surprised. However, for now they are all constructed for cheap thrills. Disaster Zone is no exception. Utilizing cutting edge CGI, the film depicts streams of hot lava bursting out of manholes causing grown men to scream in hysterically high pitches. As if these performances are not funny enough, the lava looks more like something out of a Pixar cartoon than something that should be integrated with reality.

As for performances, the film does not have strong support. Former Baywatch beauty Alexandra Paul is present to play the clich&#233d "beautiful woman as an expert scientist" role, while Costas Mandylor mumbles his way through his turn as a sensitive, tough guy. The other notable star here, Michael Ironside, has clearly fallen on hard times. Once a decent performer known for antagonist roles, Ironside frantically scampers around with a half-charred face hell-bent on letting his volcanic experiments consume New York City.
THE EXTRAS
There is nothing to see here, which is a good move. A featurette on visual effect may actually be funnier to watch than the film itself.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen. The look of the film has very rugged, experimental direction. To prevent the film from looking to stereotypically schlocky, the aesthetic is doc*mentary-looking in nature with a wandering camera and grayish colors. Unfortunately, the poor visual effects crush any of the film's attempts at style or realism.
THE AUDIO
There is not a Dolby track on here. While an action/disaster film would presumably go hand-in-hand with a good soundtrack, the unprofessional nature of this film is just fine for regular TV speakers.
THE PACKAGE
Standard DVD keep case. The city of New York is shown being engulfed by splashy, splashy lava.
THE FINAL WORD
Disaster Zone is just another cheap cable movie that is trying to milk every cent on DVD. The film itself is terrible, but worth a few laughs because of its absurdity. Nothing says comedy like poorly-trained actors screaming like Little Richard while getting eaten by synthetic lava, right? Sadly, I can't recommend this one unless poor disaster films featuring has-been stars is your forte.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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