Damnation Alley

Giant scorpions are battled in the 1977 science fiction film "Damnation Alley." File

Video Rewind is a review of an avant-garde, cultish, or otherwise odd film that has a small or large following. That means, by its fans, it can be watched over and over with greater enjoyment. We will feature films that can be accessed either via Netflix, OnDemand, or other sites such as YouTube or Hulu.

Damnation Alley, directed by Jack Smight, Twentieth Century Fox, 1977. Starring Jan Michael-Vincent as Tanner, George Peppard as Maj. Eugene Denton, Dominique Sanda as Janice. Others in cast include Paul Winfield and Jackie Earle Hailey. Color, 91 minutes. Schlock-meter rating: 7 stars out of 10.

This 1977 feature should be of some interest to Utah residents because scenes from the film were made in Salt Lake City. Damnation Alley stars Jan-Michael Vincent and the cigar smoking George Peppard from the hit 80s TV show The A-Team. The film is a post-apocalyptic thriller that takes place as a result of a nuclear holocaust that causes the earth to tilt on its axis. The holocaust wipes out most of the human race.

After the nuclear holocaust, a few remaining survivors in a U.S. Air Force bomb shelter in the Mojave Desert decide to head east towards Albany, New York. The group is able to pick up radio signals coming from Albany. Vincent and Peppard leave the bomb shelter in giant armored vehicles called Landmasters that are equipped to withstand any unforeseen elements of nature.

Along the way, they encounter giant desert scorpions and flesh eating cockroaches in Salt Lake City. On a stop in Las Vegas, the group encounters a Las Vegas showgirl in an abandoned casino and latter a wandering teenager. The teen and showgirl join the group. They also encounter a number of violent sandstorms across the desert.

Forget what film critics have said about Damnation Alley over the years. It’s a fun and exciting post-apocalyptic feature that still holds up well today. Some of the special effects are dated, but nevertheless, it is still a worthy effort destined to be on any film fan’s list of guilty pleasures. The film is in keeping with other post-apocalyptic themed features such as: “The Last Man On Earth,” “The Omega Man,”“ Logan’s Run,” “Mad Max” and many others. Enjoy.

Damnation Alley can be seen for free at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsKYJdHe4xo.

Portions of this review first appeared in the blog Plan9Crunch.

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