“When Time Ran Out…” – The Worst Disaster Movie?

The next of my posts about movies which I studied for my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” is about When Time Ran Out… (James Goldstone, 1980). This is another movie amongst those that I studied that involves a volcano (see also Dante’s Peak and Volcano). It also had the lowest rating (4.6) on IMDb (at the time of the research) of all of the English-language disaster movies that I studied… and the 4.6 is generous in my view.

A summary on IMDb for Volcano is as follows.

Tourists are surprised by a volcanic eruption in a lonesome hotel. The hotel owner ignores all warnings and advises his guests to wait for a rescue team. Only a small group follows expert Hank to reach higher regions. They start an adventurous journey across the island.


There are many elements in this movie which are recognisable in later disaster movies, but it was not an easy watch. There was only one other movie which I watched during my research that I rated even worse (and its IMDb average is a shocking 1.9 – again, generous in my view) but that one (Disaster Movie) didn’t get included in the study once I confirmed that ‘comedy’ movies would not be included (though there was very little funny about any of it)… which luckily saved me from having to watch it multiple times. Unfortunately there was nothing to save me from having to watch When Time Ran Out

In terms of the revised list of conventions that I developed as part of my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, the movie scored a 15 out of the 17 (including all 15 that would be expected in an English-language disaster narrative), further confirming (as with Volcano), as I concluded in the article itself, that just because a movie has many of the elements that are required to be a disaster movie doesn’t guarantee that it will actually be any good.

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