Mar 07

Damnation Alley

Year: 1977
Country: USA

Director: Jack Smight
Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Dominique Sanda, Paul Winfield, Jackie Earle Haley


You have seen great adventures. You are about to live one.


World War III has come and gone and the world is left as a nuclear wasteland with few survivors, huge storms and mutated animals. Tanner and Denton are the last two survivors left at a military bunker and they set out to cross “Damnation Alley”, the most radiated area to get to Albany which is still intact after the apocalypse.

I have some great memories from watching this on TV when I was younger. The cockroach attack at the gas station is a scene I remembered for many years without having a clue of which movie it belonged to. Nostalgia can kick you in the ass when you decide to watch a movie you have had good memories of twenty years down the line though and that’s definitely what happened here…

Damnation Alley is based on a novel by Roger Zelazny, but the film ended up being very different from his story and Zelazny was very unhappy with the end product. The narrative is utterly atrocious and the movie is a mess. This was a big budget production back in ’77 but the effects are still extremely badly done, even for its time. Apparently there were a lot of problems with this production which may explain why it became the way it did.

Most of the movie is about our hero’s driving their awesome (films highlight) Landmaster, a huge and great megatruck vehicle, across the sand and stumbling across some uninteresting characters and some trouble. The cockroach scene is very silly now and the terror I experienced by it as a kid makes me embarrassed today.

Jack Smight made the movie and he had a lot of experienced before going into this project. I wonder what he thought of the end product and I’m sure he had some interesting stories about it. Award winning Jerry Goldsmith did the score for this and it works.

Jean-Michael Vincent, best known for playing Stringfellow Hawke in Airwolf, played Tanner and George Peppard, Hannibal Smith from The A-Team played Denton. They both do a decent job here and it’s kind of weird to see a crossover of two people from very famous action TV series of the 80’s in the same movie.

Damnation Alley is one of the very few movies I would like to see being remade. The concept isn’t too bad, but the execution simply failed here. This film is only enjoyable to those who have nostalgic memories of it.




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