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How to Cinematically Survive a Volcano in Iceland (or Anywhere Else)

By  · Published on April 18th, 2010

Editor’s Note: This list contains what might seem like spoilers for decades-old films. Read at your own risk.

Let’s face it. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland has us all frightened. If not because it’s intimidatingly hard to spell, then because it’s canceled all of our flights out of Switzerland. Time to get prepared for the next life-threatening disaster in Iceland with a little help from films.

Fortunately, there are a ton of examples to give us some much-needed guidance on what to do if a volcano spews its blazing hot contents and blackens the sky. Also fortunately, all of the examples are bound to be completely scientifically accurate and not at all fantastical in nature.

Strap on your Office of Emergency Management uniform and save yourself:

Don’t Go Underground – Volcano

Safety Tip: You’d think if there was a huge cloud of ash in the sky and burning liquid flowing on the ground, the only safe place would be underground, but you’d be wrong. Pretty much everyone who dies at the beginning of Volcano does so because they are steamed to death inside a storm drain. It may also be because Los Angeles is a hot bed of sin, and God was wiping them off the earth with His mighty wrath.

Never Skinny Dip Near a Volcano – Dante’s Peak

Safety Tip: I know. This one is a real buzz kill. However, if the slightly not-as-moronic disaster film of 1997 has anything to share about survival, it’s that getting naked and taking a swim is a quick way to get yourself boiled alive. Also, you should probably avoid the water altogether because pretty soon, you’ll be sailing carefree on a lake of sulfuric acid and having to co-star with Pierce Brosnan.

Dig a Giant Tunnel – “South Park”

Safety Tip: Just like they used a demolished building and the Pacific ocean in Volcano, the “Volcano” episode of South Park features hotshot geologist Stan Marsh re-routing the flow of lava by digging a huge trench that leads to Denver. The point? If you see flames start to shoot out of your local, neighborhood volcano, grab a shovel.

Jump Directly Into the Volcano – Joe Vs. The Volcano

Safety Tip: Volcanoes are a lot like bears – if you encounter one, you should confront it directly and frighten it until it runs away into the woods and eats another camper. As we learned in Joe vs. The Volcano, taking the leap of faith into the gaping maw of molten hot death will see you and your loved one miraculously saved and suddenly faced with the possibility of drowning to death in the ocean on a tiny raft. This technique will absolutely save you from a volcano attack, but it will not cure your psychopathic hallucination of seeing every woman as Meg Ryan.

Do Not Throw Jewelry Into the Volcano –The Lord of the Rings

Safety Tip: If there’s one thing that volcanoes hate, it’s jewelry. Earrings, pocket watches, broaches. All of these is sure to set off an eruption. Maybe it’s because they didn’t get any presents as children, but Return of the King famously taught us that if you’re going to drop a fancy ring of power into the river of magma below, you should only do so if you’re prepared with a Giant Eagle to fly your ashen ass out of there.

Get The Hell Out of There – 2012

Safety Tip: Speaking of which (and ignoring my earlier safety tip about confronting volcanoes), getting out of the immediate zone of destruction seems like a fantastic option. After all, if you aren’t near the volcano, it can’t kill you horrifically. Despite needing to write another manual on how to survive watching 2012 (Tip #29: Don’t watch 2012), it does teach us a valuable lesson about hopping in the closest limousine and driving as fast as possible away from harm. Also, make sure to avoid the fireballs, because those definitely exist.

Be The Star of the Movie – See All

Safety Tip: The only sure-fire way to avoid not dying of smoke inhalation or your skin peeling off from intense heat is to be the top billed actor in the movie. Always make sure that your name is on the poster, that you’re falling in love with another star of the film, and that your trailer is the biggest. If worse comes to worst, you can always drive that bad boy as far away as possible. Plus, if you’re famous enough to star in a movie, you probably have a private jet and a personal pilot willing to brave a little light haze to get you to safety. Just be prepared to bare your soul if the plane ends up going down.

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