March, 1980: When Time Ran Out

By 1980, disaster flicks were on the way out and it seems that the creative minds behind When Time Ran Out didn’t get that message. While the decade previous played host to numerous films that would be regarded as classics (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, etc.), the eighties would pick at the remains of the disaster film genre, hoping for a cash cow.

When Time Ran Out Quad

When Time Ran Out, a disaster in its own right, was definitely attempting to ride that wave of success by investing in numerous stars such as Paul Newman, Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine, and Jacqueline Bisset. In the end, that would be the film’s undoing as it failed to make back even 25% of its estimated budget through box office sales. It’s obvious that not many people wanted to see, let alone act in, the film. Paul Newman even referred to the movie as “that volcano movie” and used his payout to fund his famous salad dressing company, Newman’s Own.

The real disaster is that the film could be good, but it takes itself far too seriously. Instead of being able to laugh at the absurdity of the script and terrible practical effects, I often found myself cringing through the forced romantic relationships and the interactions between characters that are seemingly only in the script to have warm bodies.

Okay, maybe we can laugh at the practical effects. For an estimated budget of 20 million dollars, the “avalanches” and “volcanic explosions” look like they could probably be found on a thirteen year old’s YouTube account. The costumes, however, were nominated for an Oscar and represent the period very well.

This movie is worth a watch– if only for the terrible green screen deaths, surprise Mr. Miyagi cameo, and the absurdity of it all. Invite some friends over, crack open a few beers, pop the popcorn, and watch meaningless characters plummet to their death in the thirty-minute bridge crossing scene near the end of the film. Oops, I mean, the “third act.”

Matt's rating: .5/5

Gabe's rating: 1.5/5

Rewind Cinema composite: 2/10

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