When this movie was first shown on television on June 19, 1983, I was just getting over some type of virus, but no matter how sick I had been, nothing could have stopped me from watching yet another Irwin Allen disaster.
Unfortunately, disaster is the operative word here.
It's been raining quite heavily over the past week at the Five Mile Caverns and some percolating water has built up which causes a small cave in.
Head ranger, Walt Charles (Lonny Chapman) won't close down the caves since he's expecting a tour of senators and the park needs the money. He's pleased when Sen. Kate Lassiter (Susan Sullivan) arrives since they're old friends and he knows that she'll be able to get funding.
When she hears of the cave in, she doesn't know how to react and insists that it'll have to be in her report. She heads below with Jack (William Bryant) and soon the two are trapped due to another cave in. Both are separated because of the boulders and neither knows if the other is alive.
Ranger Gene Pearson (Dennis Cole) has taken the following into another part of the cave- Joe and Liz Johnson (Leslie Nielsen and Julie Sommars) and Prof. Harrison Soames with daughter Ann (Ray Milland and Sheila Larken).
Prof. Soames is mad that the Johnson's are with him and Ann since they missed the last tour and he does everything in his power to let them know just how much he can't stand having them tag along.
Meanwhile, Kate is below them calling for help and out pops ex-con Tom Arlen (James Olson). He becomes aggressive with Kate and above them, Gene hears her cries for help.
Kate fills him in on the cave in and he guides the two up to where the others are.
Just before the main cave in, we have to go through four flashbacks which are terribly painful and brilliantly overacted.
As the ceiling comes down, Gene is able to fix the phone and tell Walt where they are and how he's going to get them out of the cave.
While the survivors are making their way to safety, we get three more flashbacks and an entire remake of The Poseidon Adventure as the cast pretty much goes through the same situations as those survivors. We also get a quick bite of Allen's When Time Ran Out.
As with any disaster movie, everyone goes into it with personal problems and in the end they're all ready to face the world with a new attitude (with this movie especially, I was hoping to see Mary Richards throw her hat in the air as she embarked on a new life journey).
This was one of the movies that really killed the disaster genre and I wonder if this was supposed to have been the loosely based sequel to The Poseidon Adventure about a cave in. Although many people say that 1996's Daylight would have been the "official" sequel.
I usually watch this movie once every few years when I need a bad disaster fix and the one thing that I noticed this time around, was that when the characters get off of the elevator one set gets off at three hundred feet and Jack and Kate get off at four hundred feet. Were they in a department store?
The only time I've ever gone deep into the ground was when I was on a boring tour of the Hoover Dam with my ex at the time, but that's another disaster in itself.