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November 8, 2011

Movie Review: Damnation Alley (1977)

By James DePaolo

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

Plot-This film starts off in a military base, where we find out our missiles only stopped 40 percent of the missiles that the enemies hit us with during World War 3. Our lone survivors take to the " Damnation Alley" on their way to Albany, where they think there are survivors. As they travel across this wasteland in their land masters, they encounter weather conditions and mutated scorpions and armored cockroaches, and others that may or may not share their way of thinking..

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Review-This film is sci-fi cheap fun. You know for scenes like the missile launching, to the explosions that they were using stock footage. And, a guy who falls asleep with a cigarette and the cig falls on a playboy and burns down the whole compound within 10 seconds was a bit much, almost comical in a way. The skies that I did not understand, one minute they were red with some kind of asteroid looking lights going across like a cheap atari 2600 video game. In all this destruction and end of days, it is good to know Jan and George were always shaving. Paul Winfield played the token black person who is the only person in this film to have a grisly fate. The cockroach scenes in town when they were trying to escape were sort of fun, but the scorpion shots in the beginning with Jan and the mannequin was cheese. We also have Jackie Earle Haley playing a little boy who likes to throw rocks and run around with no shirt on. Oh, the music in this film..if this music is playing in a true nuclear holocaust, I would love to not survive. The music was so bland, to the point that I wanted to mute the TV. Oh the Land masters, they looked almost like the vehicle equivalent of a 2 person donkey costume. And when one of them flip over in the sand storm/tornado looking was so silly fun.

I was amazed by a scene where Jan Michael Vincent and Paul Winfield do a country music duet in the film. See, stuff like that you just laugh at. And Paul is dressed like a pimp in the film even has a feather in his pimp hat. It was almost like Superfly was part of the crew. Boy, how cinema has grown. And, they never stop for gas and take a tank/land master and a motorcycle all the way from vegas, to the grand canyon to albany without one stop for gas.

In the end this film was just a silly escape, it was not boring..Plus, the late Jack Smight is a genius. This film may not have been his best work, but after quite possibly one of the best war films in Midway and the suspenseful Airport 1975, this film was not too bad.

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