We return to the comforting world of SyFy Channel original movies with misleading titles. Okay, they do briefly visit a swamp at the beginning, and there’s plenty of lava, but no volcano. It has an alternate title, “Miami Magma”, which I suppose is a bit more accurate, only not as much fun.
Cleavant Derricks! My wife and I have been watching “Sliders” recently, a fine 90s sci-fi show that fell off a cliff of quality towards the end, and Derricks was one of the stars. He’s the responsible assistant to Brad Dourif, the evil oil company CEO, and is trying to get him to listen to some environmental people, or wait til the safety checks have been done, or something. You know how those characters are. Anyway, in another SyFy staple, they’re drilling where they shouldn’t, but I’m pretty sure this time is going to turn out okay.
Rachel Hunter is aiming for the “Brooke Hogan Award” for unconvincing scientists, a vulcanologist in this instance. Anyway, there’s a bit of confusion when it’s revealed her sister is one of her students, and her sister has a crush on Hunter’s research assistant Brandon (played by Griff Furst, last seen by the ISCFC in “Transmorphers”). So, here’s the confusion. Hunter is 40 and looks older; her little sister is 27 and looks younger, and Brandon is 29. But he says to her that she’s too young…I can’t help but shake the impression that the two women were written as mother and daughter but when they got Hunter they decided to make a very slight alteration to the script.
There’s more casting weirdness – Dourif dies fairly early on in the film (presumably they could only afford to hire him for a few days) and then Derricks is bribed by the board of directors and takes over the evil boss character. It would’ve made tons more sense to have Derricks as the boss from the beginning and Dourif as the assistant – but then that would have taken out a few unnecessary scenes and the film’s already fairly short. Although we do get to see a super-rich CEO who knows how to adjust oil drilling equipment, so there is that to have some fun with.
Padding is a recurring theme in “Swamp Volcano”. About halfway through, we meet a couple of bikini-clad college girls who are about to take part in a wet bikini contest; and even though one of them sort of complains about having to do it, the film certainly doesn’t complain about getting to ogle the two of them. Anyway, the film spends a fair chunk of time with these two, and when the unleashed lava sends a wave of boiling hot steam over the beach, killing hundreds, you’re expecting at least one of these girls to survive. Nope!
But it’s not all dullness, exposed flesh and weird motivations. Perhaps the greatest death of all time is featured in this film! I kind of don’t want to spoil it for you, but when you see the tennis lesson start strap yourself in because it’s absolutely amazing. There’s also a bug planted in the evil CEO’s office which is so large, and has flashing lights on it, I’m surprised the people planting it weren’t ashamed of themselves. Talking of Cleavant Derricks, his comeuppance scene is properly out of left field, I guarantee you’ll see it and be “huh?”
In a way, SyFy Channel movies are dependable. You know what you’re going to get and how good it’ll be before you start watching it, and this is no different. This ticks all the SyFy Movie Mainstay boxes that I mentioned in my “Triassic Attack” review, and rips along at a fair old pace. Okay, not exactly quotes worth putting on the DVD cover, but it’s a decently entertaining effort.
Rating: thumbs in the middle