Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cave In! (1983)

Shot in 1979, but not released until 1983, Cave In! clearly feels a lot more seventies than eighties. Produced by Irwin Allen, this TV-movie with a disaster theme was one of several he produced for Warner and now, thru Warner Archive, they’re finally out on DVD. For me, as an Irwin Allen-o-holic this is fantastic, even if I read mostly negative opinions about these made for TV-disasters. But I know what I want, and I’m not disappointed…

Senator Kate Lassiter (Susan Sullivan) is on her way to visit the Five Mile Caverns, to see if they still can be open to the public. One of the guides is her ex-boyfriend, Ranger Gene Pearson (Dennis Cole) and this will be a tense situation! At the same time an escaped convict, Tom Arlen (James Olson) manages to hide in the cave after killing a police! But the worst thing is of course the marriage between ex-cop Joe Johnson (Leslie Nielsen) and his wife Liz (Julie Sommars) who are on a trip to try to piece it together again… and do I even have to mention the manipulative and controlling professor Harrison Soames (Ray Milland) who keeps his grown-up daughter in symbolic chains. When the cave suddenly caves in, our gang of wandering clichés is stuck there and must survive to get to the ground level again, and at the same time fix their problematic relationships!

Yes, this is Irwin Allen all the way, but with a small budget and a set consisting of a papier maché cave and a dramatic flashback for each character! To be honest, and we all know it, this is not original. This is a TV-movie of the week, with a script tossed together from a lot of other movies that has been done (Irwin Allen “remaked” one scene a couple of years later for When Time Ran Out…), but it also has that amazing TV-coziness that we rarely find nowadays. I can imagine how the family, but not the youngest, gathered in front of the telly to watch the latest Friday-movie with a bowl of popcorn and dad holding a beer in one hand and with his other arm around his wife’s shoulders (I also see brown or orange wallpaper, but that was only if it was released in 1979 instead of 1983).

The cave obviously is a symbol for relationship-hell. If you get thru it you’ll survive and can live happily ever after. The drama works, especially because of the very fine performance of Leslie Nielsen as the bitter ex-cop and Julie Sommars as his desperate wife. Good stuff. Ray Milland calls in his performance, but his character is also so twisted and evil that it’s hard not to be fascinated by him. When his daughter finally breaks up with him (I just don’t consider that a spoiler) I got goosebumps.

Action? Yeah, there’s some falling cave-walls, a diving-scene and a good sequence with our gang trying to get over a very weak bridge (also see the volcano-movie with Paul Newman…), which is not bad at all considering the budget.

I love old TV-movies and Cave In was a pleasure to finally see. Nothing new under the sun of course, but a couple of solid hours of entertainment. And please Warner Archive, release the longer version of When Time Ran Out… on DVD so I can buy it!


dfordoom said...

I'm a sucker for disaster movies so I'm sorely tempted by this one. I just wish amazon didn't charge so much for these Warner Archive discs.

Ninja Dixon said...

Have you tried The could be a bit cheaper. I'm very happy to own these finally! :)

dfordoom said... don't ship to Australia unfortunately.

Jack J said...

Tell us a little about the dvd quality, Fred. This is dvdr, right? But can you actually tell it's dvdr or does it look like a "real" dvd?

Ninja Dixon said...

I think it looks very good. I'm watching this on my 40 inch, HDTV - and it looks excellent. Cave In has a bit roughter quality, but that's probably because the master. I'm watching Hanging by a thread now, and the quality is really good. And this is TV-productions.

I hope I will get The Green Slime today or tomorrow, will be interesting to check the quality.

Jack J said...


Btw, I've asked you this before but I forgot what you said, was there a Irwin Allen box or are they stand-alone releases?

Ninja Dixon said... is selling all five of them for a very cheap price, but I think it's just at their shop and nowhere else. Which is a pity :/

Jack J said...

Thanks. And yeah that's a pity. :/