|Damnation Alley (1977)|
|Writers:||Roger Zelazny (novel), Alan Sharp and Lukas Heller|
|Starring:||George Peppard, Jan-Michael Vincent, Dominique Sanda, Paul Winfield and Jackie Earle Haley|
|The Plot: Maj. Eugene Denton (George Peppard) and Tanner (Jan-Michael Vincent) are both launch control operators at a missile silo. On the day that Maj. Denton informs Tanner that he no longer feels the two should be working together (due to their differing personalities), they have the biggest call of their lives. With several enemy missiles currently flying towards several major US cities, they are tasked with firing the deferring missiles that should put these enemy warheads down. Unfortunately this only stops 40% of the missiles, and much of the planet is left completely destroyed in the aftermath. Now Denton, Tanner and the group who survived within the missile silo all have to contend with giant radioactive scorpions, deadly cockroaches and a world that was knocked off of its axis and is now plagued with tremendous flooding and various natural disasters. The group, knowing that their days are numbered if they continue to stay in one place for too long, decides to head out on a whim towards Albany where it is said that there are other living humans. Will they make this immense trek, or will the dead zone known as Damnation Alley take them?
Still, in the areas that Damnation Alley succeeds within, it makes for a ridiculously watchable movie. While up until this point I have written out several complaints, which are all true to my opinion, I must admit that this wholly Hollywood production is terribly fun. Jam packed with adventure, excitement and a number of sequences that feel like mini-movies, this is a title that Hollywood could probably never make again because at no other point were all of these genre-milestones as popular as they were at the end of the seventies. As our ensemble of characters make their way across the desert-world of the United States, we watch as they stop into several very strange and different worlds. We see giant radiated scorpions within the desert, the remnants of Las Vegas and a town dominated by killer cockroaches. That’s right, cockroaches. The plausibility of this roach sequence, where we see the streets and buildings of a small American town littered with thousands of roaches, seems both preposterous and silly to the point of being laughable.
The “cockroach” sequence however does give us our first taste of gore, which is slightly surprising for this sort of movie. In fact, the violence is relatively amplified for this sort of project and truly adds to the “horror” element that seems fitting for this little mini-segment. The overall concept for the bit is nice though. It’s as if the filmmakers decided to head into a “mother nature attacks” direction right in the midst of this road movie. This segment even features a daring escape sequence which concludes with rockets blowing through the side of a building and a dirt bike jumping out of a window onto the roof of another building. After this we’re taken into a possible hostage type situation where we see the rugged mountain men of this time and how civilization has fell apart, with the men desperately looking to get back in touch with what they once had. Yet, the sequence feels like something out of The Hills Have Eyes for the most part. Still, with all of this genre-bending going on the overall message is that of fun and excitement, which is certainly a nice thing.