Joe Versus the Volcano

Synopsis: Joe versus the Volcano is a fable which opens with somewhat surrealistic scenes of the dehumanization of Joe Bank's job and work environment (at a company whose product rather literally screws people) with imagery that seems to have been inspired by the classic film Metropolis. Joe is diagnosed with an incurable disease, quits his dehumanizing job, and accepts an offer to briefly "live like a king, die like a man" - but to fulfill his agreement he must willingly jump into a live volcano on the island of Waponi Woo in order to appease the volcano god. En route to the island, Joe meets a series of interesting characters in NYC and LA, then boards a yacht, captained by Patricia Graynamore. During the voyage Joe and Patricia survive disaster, fall in love, and finally arrive at the island where they face their destiny.
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Production: Warner Home Video
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
102 min


The TITLE appears in white letters -


MUSIC. Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances," Chicago Symphony

Orchestra, begins to play. The stormy part.


The credits have that depressing, shitty, this is going

to be one of those lousy black and white movies from the

1950s look. This is going to be one of those cheap teen

sci-fi movies about a creature

MUSIC. When the female star's name appears, Borodin's

theme, which will later become adapted into "Strangers In

Paradise," plays. Then we return to the stormy part,

which subsides as:


The following LEGEND appears on the field of grey:

"You only live twice.

Once when you're born,

Once when you look death in the face."

-- James Bond

The LEGEND remains, but the field of grey turns to a rich

texture of solid gold.

MUSIC. "The Girl From Ipanema," sung by the likes of Tom

Waits, sung like it was the Downest blues song anybody

ever croaked out just before the final curtain. The

MUSIC starts as the field turns from grey to gold. The



We're in color now, but it's a grey world. It's an ugly

building about the size of a city block and a couple of

stories high. It's surrounded by hurricane fence topped

with barbed wire. Outside the fence is a muddy parking

lot. On the fence is a sign that reads:


a subsidiary of





The sign also has an abstract logo; a sort've German

Expressionist's version of a lightning bolt. Another

sign reads:


It's a grey winter's morning. It's raining or snowing or

it just has or it's about to. There's a guard at a gate

nodding workers inside the fence. They trail listlessly

past him and continue on their way to the building's

entrance. Most of them carry or are using grey or black

umbrellas. Since they are coming from the parking lot,

and since the entrance to the building is still almost a

city block away once inside the fence, this straggling

line of workers stretches hundreds of yards. Some of the

workers wear hats.

We see the line of workers FROM HIGH OVERHEAD

The line is in the same shape as the lightning bolt logo.

One of these workers is JOE BANKS. Joe is in his early

thirties. He's wearing a beat-up black trench coat;

under the trench coat he's got on a cheap and square

jacket and tie. This is a depressed man. You can see

where he could be cool, where he could have something on

the ball. But he's way too beaten down and depressed to

be cool. Joe steps in a puddle. He pulls his shoe out

of the water. He notices the sole is coming loose from

the shoe. This depresses him further. He walks on. The

sound of the WATER SQUISHING in his shoe can be heard.

JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO - Rev. 1/15/89 2.


Joe is shuffling down the main walk in the building. On

his left are doors leading to offices. On his right is

the factory, which has the feel of an airplane hangar.

The factory is separated from the walk on which Joe

progresses by a heavy wire fence twelve feet high. Joe

passes by a sign on this fence that says "Shipping." This

area is filled with thousands of brown cardboard boxes; a

shipping clerk among these boxes pulls a lever on a

device; the device spews out several feet of wet brown

tape. Joe continues on. He passes a sign on the fence

that says "Canteen." This area contains a row of vending

machines and two long tables; a guy who looks like he's

going to die is sitting at one of the tables eating pink

Hostess snowballs; he eats them in a slow, dismal way, as

if they were giant sleeping pills. Joe continues on. He

passes a sign on the fence that says "Quality Control."

This is the biggest area; it's filled with workers in

shower caps and worn white jackets; they work a distance

apart from each other, at long tables; they are

inspecting terrifying medical instruments. One of these

workers, a middle-aged woman named Sally, attaches a

catheter to an air pump. The catheter inflates and

finally explodes. Sally seems satisfied. Joe continues

on, his shoe distantly SQUISHING. He stops at one of the

office doors on his left. The lettering on the door


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John Patrick Shanley

John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter, and theatre and film director. His play Doubt: A Parable won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play. more…

All John Patrick Shanley scripts | John Patrick Shanley Scripts

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Submitted by aviv on January 29, 2017


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"Joe Versus the Volcano" STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2019. <>.

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