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Monday, March 28, 2011

Movie Review - Damnation Alley (1977)

There’s one thing that I’m learning this month which that is how human kind seems to find the will to survive after some catastrophic event. Even the darkest of moment’s survivors can find the motivation, hope and solace to live on. I’ve just finished watching “Damnation Alley” (1977) and this movie is just that.

The opening sequence of the movie shows two air force personnel coming in for a shift; Lt. Tanner and Major Denton. They are in charge of missile deployment. During their shift there was a nuclear launch of attack from Russia. The military responded by launching a counter attack with rockets but they only took out 40% of the incoming horde. As a result, the nuclear bombs detonate in major cities scattered thought the US.

About 2 years later, set in a desert like backdrop somewhere in California are the remnants of a military compound headed by a recent turned insane General. Sadly, there was an explosion in the building and the last of the crew died in the fire. This left Lt. Tanner, Lt. Perry and Airman Keegan with Major Denton being the lead. There had been multiple broadcasts announcing a safe zone located in Albany, NY. Together they set out paired in a couple bus like all terrain armoured vehicles bound for that location. Problems occur when a wind storm overturns one of the vehicles causing Perry to be the first casualty. A wounded Keegan now joins the other vehicle and off they go. The first stop ends up being in Las Vegas. The group spends some time in a run down sand filled casino called Circus Circus playing the slot machines. While they are there, survivor Janice who used to be lounge act joins the group. Another stop is made to look for fuel but ends with fatal consequences when aggressive killer cockroaches swarm. This led to the death of Keegan who was eaten alive while taking refuge in a parked vehicle. The remaining group barely makes it out alive. While driving, a boy named Billy is spotted and after some coaxing he joins the group. Still looking for fuel, they stop at a presumed deserted restaurant and gas bar. Four outlandish survivors quickly surround and subdue the team with guns but some quick thinking allows them to escape. Later, the all terrain vehicle needed some repairs and a stop at a salvage yard allowing for the parts to be taken but a wind water storm sweeps them away. Now drying out, the vehicle drives onto land and rest is well needed. In still listening to the radio, they hear a live broadcast and are allowed time to respond via CB. They soon realize that they are within just a few miles of their destination. With haste, Tanner and the boy take off on the motorcycle driving into town to be greeted by many other survivors.

The story was acceptable. I think they could have done a lot more with it but for what it was it played out okay. The movie had some pretty good special effects; giant scorpions, swarming cockroaches and of course the sky with it’s ever changing glowing swirling backdrop. Even the all terrain vehicle was pretty neat. The acting was alright, nothing fantastic to speak up. The main character Denton was played by George Peppard who played ‘Hannibal’ in “The A Team”. Another surprise was Billy -the kid, a 16 year old Jackie Earle Haley, he is the one who headed up the lead in the reboot of “Nightmare on Elm Street” as ‘Freddy Kruger’. Paul Winfield who played Private Keegan is no stranger to acting and had been in countless other movies and shows.

All in all, the movie wasn’t terribly bad, I did enjoy watching it. I would recommend viewing it but only because it has cult status otherwise shelf it. The movie was based upon a book by Roger Zelazny from 1969 so I’m intrigued to read it to see how different it was. In any case I rate this movie 6/10.

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