Damnation Alley capitalizes on cold war era fears of global nuclear war and features both Jan-Michael Vincent (Air Wolf) and George Peppard (The A-team).
Despite the fact that both of these actors were big in 80’s TV action shows, this movie isn’t as awesome as Air wolf or the A-team. But you know I can’t resist an awesomely bad science fiction movie. I haven’t seen this one in a few years so I thought it was about time to suffer though “Damnation Alley” and reflect upon its urgent warning one more time.
Air Force Major Eugene Denton (Peppard) and officer Tanner(Vincent) of the 123rd Strategic missile wing are the main characters but it is difficult to call them protagonists because The duo’s first act in the film is to launch a retaliatory nuclear missile strike. That’s right, the main characters are the same guys who helped to destroy the world. Way to go guys. They immediately attempt to conceal their role in Armageddon by claiming they were only trying to intercept incoming missiles.
The Air Force base of the 123rd survives the nuclear attack and the soldiers spend their days riding dirt-bikes across the California desert and getting drunk on Old number 7. But the compound is ultimately destroyed in a careless accident involving cigarettes and pornography. So, the survivors journey across the country in some kind of APC (armored personnel carrier for those of you who don’t watch the Military Channel) called the Landmaster in search of a survivors’ colony on the other side of the country.
Apparently Albany, New York Is immune to nuclear strike even though Boston, Massachusetts and Trenton, New Jersey are vaporized in the attack. Funny, I would have thought that a direct attack on either of these cities would have a profound effect on Albany. and Along the way they face such obstacles as giant scorpions and mutant cockroaches.
I was talking to johnny Daggers today about this awesome movie. We got onto the subject of the improvised props. At one point in the film Denton (Peppard) and Tanner(Vincent) are riding along in one of the land-master vehicles. Denton decides to let let Tanner have a turn driving the vehicle and enters some information into the navigation computer.
While we wouldn’t think anything of entering a destination into a GPS today, this was clearly science fiction back in 1977. What’s funny about the scene is that the navigation computer was nothing more than a Texas Instruments desktop calculator. Specifically it appears to me a model TI-5100. They didn’t even bother to integrate the device into the set or to obscure its true identity.
Maybe Damnation Alley is ripe for a big budget remake. After all, the basic premise is sound. Who doesn’t love a good post apocalyptic adventure film?
Originally Published 02 September 2010