Dramatization of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The movie begins with the volcano's awakening on March 20 and ends with its eruption on May 18, 1980.



(story) (as Michael Timothy Murphy), (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Huffman ...
David Jackson
Linda Steele
Clyde Whittaker
Otis Kaylor
Sheriff Wayne Temple
Redmond Gleeson ...
Mr. Ellison
Brendan Burns ...
David Crockett
Lloyd Wagner
Col. Arnholt (as Dan Chambers)
Biff Manard ...
Dr. Romarantin
Joseph Benti ...
Clark Christiansen ...


Dramatization of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The movie begins with the volcano's awakening on March 20 and ends with its eruption on May 18, 1980. Written by Neal Harkner <neal@pooh.pageplus.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


it really happened! See more »


Adventure | Drama


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

St. Helens, Killer Volcano  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The location for the surface of Mt. St. Helens was a local garbage dump in Bend, Oregon. See more »


In a fight scene between Otis Kaylor and one of the 3 loggers, Otis Kaylor gets pushed onto the floor and does a somersault. Whilst doing this somersault, his hat falls off. Otis Kaylor quickly then gets up and his opponent swings a wooden stick at his face. At this point Otis Kaylor's hat reappearing on his head. See more »


Soldier: Colonel, there's someone coming up to see you, they just let him through the barrier.
Dr. Romarantin: Doctor Lucious Romarantin. Founder and pastor of the Holy Churches of Dark Arts, Raleigh, North Carolina. I understand the great god Vulcan has chosen to make his appearance in this half of the world, am I correct, gentlemen?
Col. Arnholt: [Colonel looks to David Jackson, both are in stunned silence]
Dr. Romarantin: Gentlemen, there's a volcano in the area, Mount St. Helens I believe?
David Jackson: ...Yes, that's right.
Dr. Romarantin: Well, I believe, I've found a way ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

When the cast list rolls during the end credits, then this can be seen: "Stunt Baby Beau Davis" See more »


Referenced in Alpha to Omega: Exposing 'The Osterman Weekend' (2004) See more »


One Man's Heaven
Written and Performed by Corky Corson and "Buckboard"
See more »

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User Reviews

Carney at his best, but...
2 August 2007 | by (San Diego CA) – See all my reviews

This film is pretty good for emotion and drama. I've been to St. Helens and love the region. It's largely grown back and is green and fertile again, dominated by the stark gray gutted monolith of the mountain. In a way, it's a tombstone of granite and pumice, still steaming and hot despite more than two decades of slumber. Very somber and impressive sight. I liked the movie the first time I saw it probably about 20 years ago on TV. It was cut a bit for commercials so I probably saw about 75 minutes so there were a few plot holes, but nothing to worry about. After all, it's a fictionalized docudrama. The only real characters? Harry Truman (Carney in a real departure from Ed Norton), the crusty old soldier who won't do what he don't want to. He's earned the right to die on his own land. And David Jackson (Huffman) who is based on the late David Johnston who died on the mountain in the eruption. He's portrayed as the antithesis of Truman, a calm dreamer who hates stupidity and bureaucracy (one and the same) in the local businessmen and NGS officials. He and Harry hit it off despite their differences and find common ground in the love of the mountain about to destroy everything. I rather liked Tim Thomerson, the sheriff, who's out of his usual stand-up routine but a 'stand up guy' in the local community, as he tries to keep peace as the drama unfolds. The Huffman/Yates love interest? Probably untrue, and in my opinion, unnecessary in the film. A bit of country-western 'local yokels' in the bar, getting to know one another is a decent way of helping us like the town and the folks, but one wonder something. For instance, why does Cassie Yates and her son, who have a car, get a helicopter ride out of danger? And when the news report of the eruption comes on, the first thing they say is that Harry Truman was at his lodge and David Jackson, the 'Young Geologist' was on the face of the mountain when it erupted. Fast work. The end theme, "Here's to You, Harry Truman," is a pretty good ballad, and catchy, even if old Harry himself would probably have scoffed at the overly maudlin lyrics. "Sounds like pigs being murdered." The film of the eruption and the later destruction are impressive and gut-wrenching. It was a huge disaster which flattened thousands of acres of forest and wilderness. Yet, if you go up to St. Helens, the thing you'll be most surprised by is the roadside attractions. "ST. HELENS: FEEL THE ERUPTION! EXPERIENCE THE DESTRUCTION, THE QUAKE, THE POWER, from the comfort of a chair. All over the place, you can see movies, buy lava chunks and explore houses buried under ash. What a country.

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