Damnation Alley (1977) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
82 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A post-apocalypse road film...
joseph t5 July 2001
The beginning of this film really shakes you up. The careful, measured tones coming from the missile base loudspeaker announcing the progress of "the war" belie the fact that at that moment scores of millions of people are being atomized as the bombs fall.

However, the aftermath seems to be typical post-nuclear mis-adventure, with the survivors from the base starting out on a cross-country road trip. The "Landmaster" vehicles add a jazzy and technie touch to the otherwise predictable trip. Wild weather, crazed hermits, and killer cockroaches require a little suspension of disbelief, but still keep the pace going.

Fans of "The A-Team" will like seeing George Peppard in a lead role, as the by-the-book superior officer who tries to keep the non-conformist junior officer (Vincent) in line. Dominique Sanda adds some nice eye candy as the token female member of the intrepid band of pilgrims, rescued by Peppard and company from the ruins of Las Vegas.

Overall, a pretty good film if you are looking for an evening of distraction and non-reality, if you can get past the opening sequence.
23 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
If Irwin Allen Combined Mad Max, Deliverance & Them
Shanbo 515031 March 2006
This notoriously hard to get (at least legitimately) movie follows the travails of five nuke apocalypse survivors in the late 1970s. Their task is to drive their armored personnel vehicle cum Winnabago from Bakersfield CA to Albany NY. On the way they stop off in Vegas, Salt Lake City and Detriot bumping into maniac mutant cockroaches and some radioactive hillbillies along the way. 99% of the time the sky is a swirling orangish red that transfers its Gatorade hues to most sequences in this movie. The locations are all dust, sand and rock... this is after all Damnation Alley and the Earth has been tilted off its axis. An absolute trash B movie that I'm sure many of those associated with would rather forget, it is nonetheless hugely compelling. After viewing you can appreciate the cult classic status of this film, yet to not be entirely sure why that is so.
25 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
BEST SCI FI VEHICLE DESIGN!!!
ebranz18 October 2002
Wowza!

Now this movie aint great (far from it) but it aint horrid either. Just yer basic post nuclear sci-fi apocalypse survival flick.

Survivors get from point A to point B with a bunch of trouble in between. The trouble actually doesn't add up to much (look for roaches!) and the acting and storyline are at a minimum....BUT!!!!!!

The following things kicked ass!:

Beginning!--->creepy slow suspense as the world faces nuclear destruction!

Score!--->Great music sets the tone for the scenes (saving many)

Sky FX!--->tripped out! The skies are the best looking I've seen in any apocalyptic movie...way cool!

The SUV!!--->They actually built this thing! it works and works great! No scale model here, although I'm sure its looks are best viewed on the outside, but its done well, not cheap, handles the road great, and if i could find one, I'd buy it (look carefully at wheel design....amazing!)

Dats it, Dats all. B-movie sci-fi fun. No brainer..great for 2 for 1 rental, follow it with something that will get brain workin again.
28 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Good Idea, Poor Execution
Avenger697 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the post-apocalyptic novel "Damnation Alley" by Roger Zelazny, the film version shares almost nothing with the book other than the title.

In the film, a band of World War III survivors from the 123rd Strategic Missile Wing in the California desert set out across a devastated America in an armored, 12-wheeled "Landmaster" vehicle in search of a faint radio signal from Albany, New York. Along the way, they encounter freak storms, ragged survivors, and yes, those infamous "killer cockroaches."

"Damnation Alley" definitely has its strong points, most notably the first 20 minutes, which features perhaps one of the most chilling depictions of the start of World War III , as the crew of the 123rd SMW watches helplessly as the war begins and ends in a matter of minutes before their eyes.

On the down side, the film also has a wealth of weak points, most of which are after the survivors begin their journey. Inane dialog, bizzare laser effects, and plot inconsistencies abound, as do wooden performances by George Peppard and Jan-Michael Vincent. Paul Winfield is the only standout in the film, and he is offed by the infamous "killer cockroaches" in a scene that leads to the best line of the film: "Tanner, this is Denton... This whole town is infested with killer cockroaches!!!"

It seems as if many scenes in the film that would have helped it play better may have been left on the cutting room floor (and in fact, publicity stills from the film do show scenes not included in the final release), and the inclusion of these scenes may have turned this mediocre film into something better.

Good idea, but poor execution.
14 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
What a fun, post atomic flick this is!
robespierre914 June 2008
This is a really fun movie if you like post-atomic flicks! Or any Jan Michael Vincent flick, for that matter. The effects are sometimes cheesy, but overall the atmosphere and film-work on this are pretty decent! It's also fun to see Jan Michael 'AIRWOLF' with George Peppard "A TEAM" together. They make a good pair! The 'bug' scene is very fun- and includes some great Jan Michael motorcycle wheelies! The tornado scene is also cool. This movie definitely takes you to a different world, and the strange sky color throughout sort of makes everything seem - well- post atomic! It's a clever movie, not too violent, but it definitely is worth the buy! If you are a Jan Michael fan, this would be a MUST have as he looks fantastic as usual.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
It's in my movie collection
bobbyhollywood21 July 2010
I enjoy this every time I watch it. Science Fiction with some very good and some mediocre visual effects. The cast does a good job. I liked the vehicle the "Landmaster." Jack Earle Haley, the kid in this movie is currently in a series on television, and it's pretty good. Most of the movie takes place as the people go from one place to another in the Landmaster, and the people and things they meet. Jan Michael Vincent and Haley get some motorcycle riding in. This was out of print for some while, also the newest DVD of this movie is slightly different than the one I originally saw. It is well worth the price of a rental, check it out and see what you think.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Whole lot of cheesy fun
SykkBoy13 June 2001
Killer cockroaches, Jan Michael Vincent, Paul Winfield, George Peppard, giant scorpions, ultimate SUV's, inbred hillbilly types and dusty old Las Vegas where the slots still work...all combine to make a fun little, albeit cheesy, flick.

As a kid this movie was a fun Saturday matinee movie and to this day, still a fun Saturday Matinee movie...grab a big bucket of popcorn, turn your brain off and have some cheesy fun...
14 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Don't worry, those superimposed giant scorpions won't bite you
vandino13 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
So, you've managed to survive world devastation by being inside a missile silo (after you and your fellow soldiers have reacted so stoically to the sight of incoming missiles on the screen that it might as well have been a Russian pizza delivery), but then you discover that all it takes to wipe out your giant military bunker is a sleepy soldier dropping a cigar onto a Playboy magazine (a "hot" centerfold being an aiding factor in the flames). Aw, hell, Tanner, now you gotta hit the road.

Of course, it's only been a couple of years after those radioactive nukes were dropped and the sky looks freakishly dangerous (as in VERY RADIOACTIVE), but thankfully with a lot of sunscreen and a convenient monster truck at the ready, you can head off confidently in your pursuit of a taped signal coming from Albany, New York, and hopefully there you'll find a home able to withstand the lethal force of a burning porno magazine. The leader of the expedition looks suspiciously like George Peppard, but his southern accent makes you wonder. Along for the ride is Paul Winfield, to give the black audience their token, always with the caveat that the black supporting actor in horror/sci-fi films will NOT get the girl and will NOT survive. The girl will be played by Dominique Sanda, and she, along with Jan Michael Vincent and Peppard, will provide enough wooden acting that this film will more resemble a mission of hauling lumber rather than people to Albany. Especially after the lively and un-wooden Winfield misses the rest of the ride in order to provide nutrition to an army of "killer cockroaches" (many of whom are suspiciously riding on conveyor belts--or perhaps that form of cockroach mass transit is a post-nuclear evolutionary development.... okay, just cheap effects).

But what trip through the lonely desert is complete without some "human cockroaches" who are in the mood to devour Miss Sanda. Get out yer banjo's, Sonny-Jim, it's the Mountain Man Raping Hour. Oops, forgot to mention the ugly kid (Jackie Earle Haley) that got picked up by our heroes along the way. He knows how to throw a rock and helps save the day (and Miss Sanda's virtue). Unfortunately, the kid only throws rocks at the actors and not at the director or writers, who are more deserving (of really big rocks, I might add). I assume original author Roger Zelazny would like to toss a few himself for the stealing of his title (well, they certainly DIDN'T steal his book... but then Zelazny's novel had the nerve not to provide the producers with Killer Cockroaches or Truck-Stop Rapists). Aw heck, even with those two odd set-piece detours, this trip is resembling nothing more than a weekend drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (with an acid-trip sky, so perhaps it's more like Hunter Thompson's weekend drive). Why not finish it off with a big storm scene and throw a toy version of that monster truck into the studio tank.

Well, it's been a long trip and Peppard has mapped it out (calling his route 'Damnation Alley' hence the cool title) and all have accepted it, even though Peppard hasn't been out of that bunker since the holocaust but somehow knows this carefully defined route (and is unperturbed by the notion that the gasoline they'll need during the trip would have turned to varnish after sitting for years). At the end of it will be Albany and people and a big banner that reads YOU MISSED US, RUSSKIES! Wouldn't you be shocked to discover that you were sitting in that bunker all that time when you could've been in Albany where not only is there no devastation, but time has gone backwards and the city now resembles the land of Andy Hardy or Leave It To Beaver? Surprisingly, you also discover this is actually a 20th Century Fox film, instead of the usual cheesy AIP/New World Roger Corman film-slop that it resembles. And Fox thought THIS was the big sci-fi film on its slate for 1977. Woe to those who saw this when it opened a few months after Star Wars (myself sadly included). But now it's cheesy relic that is only a reminder of what NOT to do, sci-fi filmwise. Still, there is some accidental twistedness to this saga, especially when you first see Vincent roaring through the dunes on his motorbike with a passenger strapped to him. We see at one point it's a real woman, but Vincent tosses her off to escape from those process shot scorpions (the filmmakers "process" being state-of-the-art....back in 1910) and we find out it was a mannequin (can you say "goof"?). Then later, Vincent does a bike stunt with Sanda aboard and skids to a stop, and we notice that the stunt rider has a female mannequin for a passenger, not a stunt double. Strangely, this mannequin gives one of the better performances. And sadly, in the days before straight-to-video sequels, we never got to see 'Damnation Alley 2: Tanner's European Vacation.'
40 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Damnation Alley
Scarecrow-8822 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A series of adventures following US Air Force soldiers Jan-Michael Vincent & George Peppard(and Paul Winfield for a while)as they must leave a military installation destroyed after cigarette ash ignited leaking gas, hoping to find support across the country in Albany, NY. The earth has become thrown off it's axis thanks in part to a nuclear war where America tries to avert a cataclysmic disaster after a warring country fired missiles towards the United States. They encounter a woman in Vegas(Dominique Sanda)and a kid not long after(Jackie Earle Haley)as they journey to their destination. Along the way, the group come across giant Scorpions(bad, bad, bad special effects, even terrible by 70's standards including what appeared to be a woman riding with Vincent as he must evade the creatures, obviously an actress, later proved to be a mannequin and this effect is never convincing), flesh-eating beetles(poor Winfield doesn't come out so great), radioactively diseased humans with malicious intent, and a devastating storm which causes a giant washout as Peppard attempts to find parts in a Detroit auto graveyard. The military tank van is rad, and it's cool hanging with Peppard and Vincent for 90 minutes, so DAMNATION ALLEY wasn't too difficult to endure. It lags in places because the crew must drive for long periods, and the low budget hurts more than helps at times in the special effects. You could say this was an early audition role for Peppard's A-Team role, as his commander in charge, is mostly in control..of course, Vincent's hot shot daredevil can't help himself sometimes, especially when he hops on his motorcycle.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
What's not to like?
Kieran Green19 December 2007
Damnation Alley is set in a post apocalyptic America in world war three a band of survivors led by air-force major dent-on George Peppard following an accident at their base travel in style in a land-master which essentially is a deluxe camper van which is capable of traveling over rough terrain it has to be seen to be believed! i one can see where George A Romero got his 'Land of the dead inspiration!

is one of those films that typically grows on you, i happen to enjoy it what's not to like? for starters the casting is excellent you have George Peppard before he entered further stardom with the A-team, complete with a southern accent( just wait till he utters the immortal line 'the town is full of Killa cockroaches! Jan Michael Vincent before he became famous with air-wolf the wisecracking Token black guy Paul Winfield, who suffers a fate worse than death when runs afoul of 'said Killa cockroaches' French actress Dominque Sanda as a Vegas show girl along for the ride and a Pre -breaking away Jackie Earle Haley as a waif who is adept at throwing rocks at disgruntled hillbillies! it's an enjoyable romp which is aided invaluably by Jerry Goldsmith's music score. the major downside is 'Damnation Alley' was shot in anamorphic widescreen unfortunately it remains to be seen whether fox decide to release this and they should. for the time being we'll have to make do with the horrendous panned and scanned copies.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
I Guess The Premise Was Good
Theo Robertson18 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
***** minor spoilers *****

Without doubt the best scene in DAMNATION ALLEY is the one set in the control room as the airforce men stand in stunned silence as the major cities of the USA are nuked . I don`t think as some critics have said that this scene is bland , it`s because the people in the control room are shocked that world war 3 has broken out and realise that civilisation has ended, it`s a very understated and haunting scene. Alas however as soon as the exposition subtitles come up ( And very purple prose they are too . They match the colour of the sky ) the film quickly falls apart . Two of the characters have now left the airforce which doesn`t strike me as being logical . After a major event , and they don`t come much more major than global thermonuclear conflict I`d have thought , wouldn`t martial law be introduced ? If so would servicemen be allowed to leave the forces when they felt like it ? And aren`t any men on the base related to anyone ? This really stuck in my mind that no one ever mentions loved ones who must have been wiped out during the war . Maybe they were married to the guests on THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW ? If so I guess nuclear holocaust does have its plus points

The film then turns into an epic quest adventure but if you`re expecting LORD OF THE RINGS don`t hold your breathe because it all becomes both silly and boring B movie stuff with the only point of interest being the line about killer cockroaches which made me laugh out loud . And I felt cheated by the upbeat happy ending . Strangely enough if you look up the resumes of the two screenwriters you`ll find they have a very good track record of writing intelligent involving scripts so what went wrong here ?

One last point . Watch the scene where Jan Michael Vincent is riding about the desert evading the crap superimposed mutant scorpians . He`s supposedly driving around with a mannequin on the back of his motorbike but if you look closely just before he throws it off you can quite clearly see it`s an actress/ stuntwomen of latino/native American ethnicity
14 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Coast-to-Coast Road Trip, the nuclear holocaust edition!
Coventry4 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's truly unfortunate and even mildly depressing how your personal perception changes over the years. I remember seeing this film on late night television when I was a young lad and I instantly loved it for life … or at least I thought I would at the time. "Damnation Alley" has a lot of elements to appeal to young and naive audiences, especially 15 to 20 years ago, when computer generated effects didn't dominate cinema yet. It has the impressive heavily armored truck, gigantic mutated scorpions and carnivorous cockroaches, funnily colored skies and a massive number of explosions. Moreover, the film starred not one but two of my childhood TV idols (George Peppard of "The A-Team" and Jan-Michael Vincent of "Airwolf"). I finally re-watched "Damnation Alley" now, and what mostly astounded me was how amateurish, clumsy and boring the film is seen through the eyes of an adult! This is one seriously incoherent mess of a film, and even though the 'Landmaster' truck still remains an ultra-cool method of transportation, the rest of the scenery and special effects are pathetic and not the least bit convincing. Allegedly, Roger Zelazny's novel is a masterwork of Sci-Fi, but the movie adaptation most definitely is not. The first fifteen minutes are unimaginably dull and handle about absolutely nothing, really. Bunch of military guys, including the three male protagonists, sitting comfortably in their base camp whilst nuclear bombs kill 99.9% of the earth's population and even tilt the freaking planet off its axis. Later, an even stupider accident wipes out the remaining survivors at the army base so that only four people are left alive. They decide to undertake the dangerous coast-to-coast journey from California to Albany in their Landmaster truck, because they picked up vague radio signals hinting there may be other survivors. The posse quickly loses a member but also pick up a woman and a kid during, and each time they make a stop there's a different menace to face. There's the earth's unbalanced and wacky climate, cannibalistic insects and – of course – the biggest horror of them all: fellow dehumanized survivors. The premise sounds like the ideal post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi stuff, and it is, but the elaboration and Jack Smight's sense of direction literally bring this film down. Being a fan of low-grade and obscure genre movies, I can tolerate bad special effects and a lack of continuity in the script, but there's a whole lot more wrong here. The characters are wooden statues and none of the actors seem really interested in providing them with emotional or intellectual depth. Tanner and Keegan are supposedly best friends (they even sing cheesy songs together), yet when Keegan dies Tanner shows no reaction or doesn't even mention his name anymore for the remainders of the film. There's almost no development in the relationships between the original travelers and the survivors they pick up along the way and throughout the entire film there isn't a single dialog that is properly written out. The sequences with the flesh-eating cockroaches and the encounter with the savage rednecks generate a few isolated peaks of suspense and thrills, but overall "Damnation Alley" is mostly uneven and tedious. And, just when you presume the film couldn't possibly sink any lower, you're faced with the most implausible and infuriating climax in the history of cinema. I can honestly say I've never witnessed a more pathetic forced happy-ending in my life.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
I love this movie
madmanmib21 August 2005
Ever since the first time I saw this movie, I have loved it. Even considering it was a low budget movie it was still a very good story and very well acted. I even like the roaches. My favorite part of course is the Landmaster vehicles it was and still is one of coolest movie vehicles ever made. There was even a Saturday morning TV show called "Ark II" (1976) TV-Series 1976-1979 that used the same concept for their vehicle and there have been other movies that used the same basic design for their stuff. some people don't like the ending, but I for one thought it is just fine, when you consider other movies like The Day After Tomorrow (2004) the ending is fine. I for always watch this movie whenever it on TV. One of the cool things is to watch two actors Jan-Michael Vincent who of course did Airwolf and George Peppard who was also on TV about the time doing The A-Team both in the movie is awesome. If you like, sci-fi flicks that entertaining then watch this movie and make up your mind.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
So sad this was the only film adaptation of Roger Zelazny's fantastic oeuvre
Dan Harkless13 January 2006
A stogie-chewing George Peppard heads a team that welds together an armored vehicle out of spare parts, taking satisfaction when a plan comes together.... Jan-Michael Vincent mans an AWOL missile-firing government vehicle copiloted by a cranky white-haired guy....

Capsule descriptions of "Airwolf" and "The A-Team"? No, you'd be better off watching an episode of either of those shows, but unfortunately I'm describing "Damnation Alley", the wildly unfaithful movie adaptation of the novel by brilliant Sci-Fi author Roger Zelazny.

Now, I'm sure few Zelazny fans would disagree that "Alley" is one of the least of his works, but this film takes Zelazny's somewhat decayed fruit and manages to squeeze onto the floor whatever juice it had in it, leaving only the decay.

All that remains of the book is the basic setting, the cross-post-apocalyptic-country road trip plot device (though with the book's suspenseful motivation for the trip replaced by a vague "let's see what's over there"), the "Run the storm or dig in?" scene, and a main character named Tanner. Well, I *guess* you can call him the main character. Just as Tanner and Denton take equal turns driving the truck (no, I will not call it a "Landmaster" -- Zelazny never would have given it such a dorky appellation), not even needing to tussle over the usual single steering wheel, Vincent and Peppard seem to be given completely equitable screen time in which to shine, an opportunity they each squander in equal measure.

Notice I did not say *Hell* Tanner. No, this is not the novel's violent last-of-the-Hell's-Angels anti-hero, but instead a pretty mild military boy who's, well, kind of cocky I guess, and, uh, likes to ride a dirt bike... (cue faux expectant look). But at least Tanner is inspired by the book. The rest of the characters are, well, uninspired, and purely the invention of the screenwriters.

And as for the setting, it's close enough to be recognizable, but is not the world that Zelazny was exploring in the book. Different post-apocalypse stories have chosen to stake their respective posts at different points along the timeline, from "28 Days Later" to the far-flung dystopias of "Planet of the Apes" and "The Time Machine". In the novel, Zelazny looked at the world a generation after the holocaust, an interesting point to examine, where government has established control again in the remaining population centers, and the recognizably ordinary lives people can lead in these pockets of safety is in sharp contrast to the nightmare world that lays down the road apiece. Instead of keeping this setting, though, the authors of this film decided to go with a world maybe a year or two after the bombs, which presents a much less interesting vantage than any of the time-points noted above. But even life at this point along the eternal road could have been interesting to examine, had the movie taken the time to do so. Unfortunately it did not, so I must respectfully disagree with those commenters who said that this was one thing the movie did well. What we get instead is mostly some people riding around the country and encountering dangerous situations that could be successfully transplanted to any time period.

I likewise must disagree with those that said that the movie did a good job portraying the experience of the military officers who witnessed the end of the world at the beginning of the film. While I realize that military personnel are trained to remain calm and productive under pressure, these folks witnessing the huge barrage of nuclear warheads showering down upon America didn't appear to be under pressure at all! People were milling casually around or sitting and doing their usual paperwork while the world ended! Pretty much the only expression of angst or concern we get is when Jan-Michael puts his head in his hands at the end of the sequence, but his portrayal could serve equally well for some other movie's 50th-billing character Man With Headache.

Other random things I must criticize: George Peppard's accent isn't particularly badly done, I guess, but it sure is annoying.

When the one reasonably likable character makes an exit, the other characters seem not to care very much, and seem not to display any sign afterwards that they remember such a character had ever been around.

As others have also alluded to, one of the most anticlimactic endings ever.

But the film is not wholly devoid of charm. The sky effects are indeed pretty neat-looking, and I'm sorry I didn't get to see them on the big screen, though the near-complete failure to try to maintain registration between moving (or even stationary!) ground and sky elements is very jarring and fake-looking.

Speaking of the sky, the film also does a commendable job of recreating the bizarre, scary, and vengeful weather depicted in the book.

The score is certainly not among Jerry Goldsmith's best work, but it's better than the material it underscores, and it has some kewl analog synth squawks you don't get to hear in his other work.

The truck is also pretty cool, though the stretchy material connecting the two halves looks comically flimsy in the harsh environments the truck rides through. Not surprised to hear that's the one element that does not survive on the show vehicle today.

But I have to say that if you insist on watching a movie where the main characters venture out from one of the remaining safe pockets of humanity in a dangerous post-apocalyptic world in their heavily armored, missile-firing truck, and occasionally drive dirt bikes out of the back of it, you would do much better to watch George Romero's "Land of the Dead" instead. (If the Landmaster or other elements of "Damnation Alley" provided any inspiration to "Land of the Dead", it's by far the best thing this bastard child of Zelazny has given to the world.)
18 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
The nuclear holocaust was never this boring
Rob van Opzeeland7 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In Damnation alley we see Jan Michael Vincent (Stringfellow Haweye from Airwolf) and George Peppard (Hannibal from the A team) acting alongside each other. Well, acting... that's such a strong word. They're on screen and read lines, let's be honest about it.

Anyway, in this sorry little screen-filler the US and Russia have destroyed the world with all out nuclear war, which is shown in the first couple of scenes. This is where things already start going terribly wrong. Nuclear war has never been portrayed with less emotion than this. No one on the military base seems to be shocked or even really mind this is happening. We only see a couple of explosions while a bored voice reads out the names of cities that have been hit, and everybody is watching as if they're looking at an episode of "Little house on the prairie".

A couple of years pass, and we join the action again when the world is starting to recover a little bit. We see Jan Michael Vincent ride back to the base on a motorbike with a girl riding on the back, when they get attacked by giant scorpions, a special effects sequence that is one of the most embarrassing I've ever seen in a movie. Some people might say that I shouldn't pick on that because it's an old movie, but when you keep in mind that the 1950s version of War of the Worlds had more convincing special effects than this movie, you can't really defend the quality as a product of its time. It was dated and unconvincing then, it's absolutely terrible to watch now.

So, moving on. The bunker that survived the nuclear holocaust then explodes because of some dude dropping a cigarette on a playboy centerfold poster. I'm not making this up, that's what actually happens. So with no base to live in anymore, the four survivors decide to move out in two heavily armoured trucks that consist of two parts each held together by what seems to be a piece of table linen. Table linen is of course known for its amazing strength and capability of keeping radiation outside. But sure I could have accepted that.

What I find more baffling is that no such expedition has apparently been undertaken before. Everybody just decided to keep hanging round at the base, even though they owned completely functioning anti-radiation vehicles. Those must have been some pretty good issues of Playboy.

So I will try to continue the absurd plot line, which thankfully, but weirdly, didn't involve any more giant scorpions. They move into the nuclear wasteland en route to Albany, when they get hit by a storm that destroys one of the trucks, and kills one of the crew members. No real drama in that scene, it just sort of happens and then we move on. They move out to Vegas and find a woman living there. She offers to explain how she survived, but she never does. Instead we get her telling us about the singing career she was pursuing before the nuclear war. But then we never hear her sing.

Before they meet the woman however there is one slightly well done scene where the three men from the army base play the slot machines like children gone crazy, and in the background we hear people laughing and talking, as if the casino is still as busy as it used to be. Thank god for one decent idea, if not wholly original.

Anyway, at the next village they get attacked by 2 inch long cockroaches, which leads one of the men to say "they are huge", even though he's been living in a desert infested by scorpions as big as alligators. Luckily, and predictably, he then gets eaten by the cockroaches. Although he was best friends with the Jan Michael Vincent character, he is never mentioned again. The three survivors escape, and pick up this young boy who has been living on his own in the desert. He agrees to join them if he can learn to ride the motorcycle Jan Michael Vincent brought with him on the trip. Another thing we never actually see happen in the movie, although later he is offered to drive the armoured vehicle.

We then get the inevitable evil survivors scene, where they run into three hicks who survived the nuclear war as well, and who try to rape the lady they picked up in Vegas. The young boy saves the day and they drive on to Detroit. Las Vegas - Detroit - Albany. Seems like a little strange route to take, but maybe that's because they have to go around "Damnation Alley", I don't know. The whole damnation alley is never explained at all in the film, so it could run from Texas to Iowa or something.

Then of course while in Detroit, they get hit by a tidal wave. What? Yes you heard me, somehow the sea made it all the way over the rocky's and hits Detroit. The vehicle, which is broken then almost gets destroyed by the water, but they survive. And hey presto, they're on dry land, and about a two minute drive by motorbike from Albany, which somehow is the only place in America that has not been affected at all by the nuclear holocaust.

Now, I really like B movies, even when they are absurd. Especially when they are absurd actually. But this one is just inconsistent, incoherent, and boring. The events described above are all presented to the viewer in an utterly unconvincing and unentertaining way. I was surprised I actually made it to the end. If you're considering watching it, don't. It's a waste of time and will just leave you wondering, what the hell was the point of all that?
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
My eyes tear up when I think of this film...
Doug Marshall18 February 2001
Okay first of all, forget the egghead, moviegeek, fanboy rumblings you will read about this movie. They are taking things way too seriously. This is my all time favorite "B" movie. Bar none. This movie has it all, cheesy effects(I will say that the weather effects were beyond top notch, though), classic acting(come on Jan-Michael Vincent and Paul Winfield? It doesn't get any better!), and a great "B" storyline.

Damnation Alley starts out with a lot of intensity...okay it meanders like a drunken parapalegic, but once we get beyond that we realize that lo and behold-the world- *poof* she is gone. World War III is done and over in less time than it took to get Normal, Ohio off of FOX. We then jump right into the world after the war, which apparently show us that the only people surviving nuclear winter will be "B" actors-go figure.

George Peppard, Jan-Micheal(Hiccup!)Vincent, and Paul Winfield head off on a road trip to stop a home made porno from reacing George's girlfriend in...wait...that's not right. Oh yeah, they go to Albany, NY-the last bastion of civlization (snicker snicker) And on the way they meet many strange settings...well George and "Hard Livin'" Jan-Michael do...Paul gets offed by a bunch of blood thirsty cockroaches-see I told you the only thing to survive would be "B" actors.

They soon meet up with a slu..I mean a woman of questionable repute in Las Vegas and a young man who I believe to be that possum looking kid from deliverance. After running into the local branch of NRA in a secluded ozarkian setting they make their final run to the promised land....Albany, NY. I won't give away the ending...yeah like it's a shocker...but I do recommend you see this classic "B" film.
20 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
An early post-apocalypse bit of sci-fi that is more fun that its given credit for
Red-Barracuda17 March 2017
Damnation Alley was quite an unlucky movie seemingly, it was put out with the idea that it would be another profitable sci-fi b-movie but unfortunately for it, a few weeks before it was released a movie called Star Wars was released which changed the rules for sci-fi forever more. To be honest though, I kind of like this one. It has its own significant factors too, for instance it's quite early in the cycle of post-apocalypse movies - the Mad Max series certainly seems to have borrowed some of its ideas – and so I think it's fair to say that its core look and feel went on to be used in quite a few similar movies in the 80's. Its story starts with a nuclear war devastating the world, leaving a small band of survivors in a desert outpost. After a while they are forced to set off on a journey to try and find other survivors in an all-terrain vehicle.

This one has a plot that boils down to a succession of set-pieces strung together along a hazardous trek. It's essentially a road movie...without a road. Along the way our heroes battle giant scorpions, swarms of flesh-eating cockroaches, mutant feral humans and they endure an electrical storm. They also pick up a woman and an incredibly annoying teenage boy. The film is chock full of corny dialogue and charmingly poor special effects but it remains entertaining nevertheless with good pacing and enough variety of events to ensure things remain interesting. It has to be admitted though that it does end with a very poorly conceived conclusion that felt like it was tagged on because the original idea was too expensive. But on the whole, I found this to be good fun mainly, certainly a fair bit better than its poor reputation suggests.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
"Better do things my way or you're going to walk".
lost-in-limbo21 January 2012
A film I wanted to like, but I was left feeling quite indifferent. This adaptation of Roger Zelazny's novel turns out to be a junky, often exaggerated piece of cheap post-apocalyptic drive-in schlock that pales alongside its inspiration. The problem mainly lied with it lack of plot episodes within this road movie through a dangerous landscape and the ones they went with were quite flat and half-baked (obviously outside the killer cockroaches segment). In some aspects its budget couldn't entirely match its vision. What made the feature though were its steady performances (Paul Winfield is always a delight) and of course how can you pass on that vehicle --- "The Landmaster". Where can I buy me one of those? George Peppard and Jan Michael Vincent lead the cast, as two U.S Air force soldiers who survive a nuclear holocaust caused by WW3, causing the earth to tilt on its axis creating freak weather patterns (storms, floods) and mutated insects. So a small crew head out in two armoured vehicles through radiation affected areas known as "Damnation Alley" in their journey for survivors and a safe area. Also coming for a ride are Dominique Sanda, Kip Niven and a young Jackie Earle Haley who's pretty good at chucking stones. The special effects that are projected are chintzy with some blotchy optical effects. While limited, it has its moments, but I wished a little more did happen and that ending couldn't be any more sickening (, in a suger-coated sense).

"Nothing good happens by itself."
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
An unfairly maligned effort
webmaster-62513 January 2006
I saw this film at the local cinema when it was released ...

and what a great film it seemed. (and in context, still is!).

The context is this - in 1977 we were in the middle of the 'Cold War', and we lived expecting the USA and the USSR to start throwing nukes at each other, which we expected to be the END OF THE WORLD. So a film about the end of civilization was bound to be a hit.

btw if you read the original novel 'Damnation Alley' then I can't recommend this film, because the tie-in is VERY tenuous

back to the film - WWIII devastates the planet, and a group of survivors from a military base build a seriously tasty all terrain vehicle with which to explore the remains of the planet. Damnation Alley - a devastated stretch of the USA - is populated by (among other things), giant scorpions :-) wow!

What would the survivors of WWIII be like? Well maybe they'll retain some semblance of whatever passed for normal before the nuclear strike, or maybe they'll degenerate - the survivors from the base meet a few along the way.

The ending? Was (in my opinion) quite a let down - but you can make your own decision about that
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Reasons why this clunker rates as a hilariously horrendous hoot and a half
Woodyanders16 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
1.) Jack Smight's fumbling (mis)direction, which combines stop'n'go pacing, clumsily staged action set pieces, and extremely variable acting with positively jaw-dropping cruddy results. 2.) The script by Alan Sharp and Lukas Heller is pure hogwash; it's a horribly sanitized bastardization of Roger Zelazny's superbly gritty award-winning novel. 3.) George Peppard as the uptight Major Eugene Denton sports a sidesplitting and strangely effeminate Truman Capote does Tennesse Williams wispy faltering Southern accent. 4.) The infamous flesh-eating killer cockroaches; clumps of them are obviously rubber bugs being yanked on strings. 5.) Jan-Michael Vincent looks mighty hunky as long-haired nonconformist protagonist Tanner, who's without a doubt one of the lamest, most squeaky-clean, and hence unpersuasive so-called "rebels" to ever grin his way through a film. 6.) The uproariously awful (far from) special effects boast some of the worst blue screen and miniatures you'll ever witness in a major mainstream studio release. 7.) Paul Winfield as token jolly and eminently expendable black guy Keegan suffers his single most ignominious death scene (he's eaten by the killer cockroaches). 8.) The Air Force officers at the base are a bunch of hopelessly inept clods: They survive a nuclear war, but are dumb and klutzy enough to kill themselves with a propane gas explosion. 9.) Dominique Sanda sure looks mighty foxy as token French babe Janice. 10.) The marvelously ridiculous sequence at the Las Vegas casino, where Tanner and Keegan go to town on the slot machines just because they can. 11.) The rusty tin-eared dialogue (all-time favorite line: "All the dead are dead -- and the living are dying"). 11.) Jackie Earle Haley is mighty annoying as token scrappy kid Billy. 12.) A painfully tone-deaf rendition of the popular religious tune "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" sung by Vincent and Winfield. 13.) Robert Donner as an evil mountain man looks just like Charles Manson with his absurdly fake beard and long greasy unwashed hair. (Seamon Glass, the state trooper in the amazing end-of-the-world gem "This Is Not a Test," plays another one of the evil mountain men.) 14.) Jerry Goldsmith's first-rate robust and rousing score, which sounds like it belongs in another (much better) picture. 15.) Murray Hamilton's "what the hell is he doing here?" uncredited nothing minor part as General Landers; he primarily stands around looking mopey and hardly utters a single word. 16.) The Landmaster vehicle is genuinely gnarly. 17.) The simply astounding "you got to be kidding me!" preposterous happy ending where it appears that our ragtag group of determined survivors have stumbled across the most atrocious ersatz Norman Rockell painting of heartland America imaginable. A delectably dreadful doozy.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
the music makes this flick gel
grzesiak27 August 2001
One of the most neglected aspects in appraising DAMNATION ALLEY is Jerry Goldsmith's tough and tender score, which seamlessly links together the plot, makes the frightening opening sequence even more frightening than it really is -- and sonically wallpapers over much of the less than stellar acting and action sequences.

Sadly, the soundtrack to Goldsmith's panoramic score has never been released (shame on Fox!) and only a sequence has been recorded (by Goldsmith, on a CD entitled FRONTIERS for Varese).
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
One of the original post-nuke odyssey flicks
DcnBlues26 January 1999
Good points: 1) The opening sequence (supposedly within the bowels of a secret military base) is one of the most frightening nuclear war sequences filmed. 2) The "Landmaster" vehicles are the ultimate in monster trucks. Imagine, an armored RV that can climb over rocky terrain, dodge killer storms and overgrown insects at 60+MPH, and is amphibious... oh yes, and you can use parts from any junkyard to fix it, too. 3) The weather effects were unbelievable for when it was filmed (1977 -- no computers were injured in the making of this film!) and would be hard to duplicate today unless Industrial Light and Magic took a shine to the project. 4) Jan-Micheal Vincent has his eyes open, and George Peppard was still in his pre-"A-Team" form.

But seriously, this is one of the better sci-fi "survivors versus the world" movies. The book outlined the cataclysmic weather as part of a "freak shift in the jet stream" but I think the nuclear war premise is more likely to kick the earth off its axis. Add to that overgrown scorpions, carnivorous cockroaches, and more than a few wildly desperate (dare we say "cannibalistic"?) survivors, and the journey from western desert to midwest town becomes much like Odysseus's ten-year trek home from the wars.

Now, if someone would only resurrect the Landmaster for a truck show, I'd be happy.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Roger Zelazny's book turned into cheapjack sci-fi...
moonspinner551 June 2008
Jack Smight must have been distressed at getting such cheesy directorial assignments such as "Airport 1975" and, a few years later, this weak science-fiction entry. Once a solid TV director with a few interesting feature films to his credit, Smight's resume tailed off in the 1970s with lame titles such as "Damnation Alley", a second-feature if there ever was one. Survivors of the nuclear holocaust roam the desolate wasteland in a futuristic van, searching for others. Nice to know in the future we'll still have second-rate casinos in this country, equipped with slot-machines circa 1977. One revolting sequence involving blood-sucking cockroaches might have become a classic among splatter aficionados had the special effects budget been larger (when the roaches, en masse, chase Jan-Michael Vincent on his cycle, it looks like a carpet being pulled along by a wire). The cast of actors, George Peppard and Jackie Earle Haley among them, do OK work in an obviously inferior product. *1/2 from ****
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Cheesy, but interesting
jtp2145528 March 2007
This movie did have cheesy acting and special effects, but at least it wasn't filled with the fear, anxiety and hopelessness of the movie '' The Day After''. In order to enjoy ''Damnation Alley'', you really do have to turn off your brain and turn on your imagination. Unlike most, i actually liked the ending of this movie, it did at least offer hope that humanity wasn't completely wiped out in the nuclear holocaust. ''The Day After'' seemed to imply that all living things would eventually die in the aftermath of nuclear war.

''Damnation Alley'' is not my favorite movie by no means, but i watch it every time it happens to be shown on one of the cable channels.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
We Got Us Some KILLER COCKROACHES!!!!!!!
Ralph29 September 2005
Yeah OK, I'm giving this flick a 7 because I really dug it in the day (although of course not nearly as much as Star Wars which I saw at the Lowes theater in full surround sound, now that was an all time high!). But to this day occasionally I'll hear George Peppard say witha stogy in his pie hole "We Got Us Some Killer Cockroaches Here!" Evidently I'm not the only one who loved that quote because IMDb has it as a highlighted quote. Peppard obviously the true professional that he was must have repeated that line over and over again till it came out just perfect, if I was a fly on that wall, lol. But I mean anyone who watches this flick now for the first time will give this maybe a 4 if they are a post apocalyptic flick lover type like me, and a 1 or 2 if not. It's only because when I saw this flick I was a young teen who thought Jan Michael was cool (I had a haircut like him, and later I came darn close to buying a bar by Clark AB in the PI called the Airwolf Bar because the chicks there said I looked like him, oh my was I stoned cold drunk that time). I saw Jan in "Buster and Billy" and he kicked the crap iota two dudes and than smashed their skulls in with a cue ball, plus he killed Charles Bronson in "The Mechanic" (with a chase scene that must have inspired the DeNiro flick "Ronin"), so Jan Michael was not to be trifled with at that time, no way. So all you people who are giving this flick 1 star, obviously you never saw the flick in the 70's when I did, with its very cool post apocalyptic scenes and its very cool RV that had missiles and could go over oceans in raging gales, and Jan Michael, and of course one of those lines you can't get iota your head, George Peppard screaming "We Got Us Some Killa Cockroaches Here!". I think I'll avoid watching this again because I'd hate to spoil those classic 70's memories, of growing up and wanting to be as cool as Jan Michael Vincent.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed