Damnation Alley Jack Smight

Damnation Alley Jack Smight
Released in 1977, Damnation Alley is an old-fashioned adventure in which a group of disparate characters band together to seek signs of life across the barren wasteland of post-nuclear holocaust America, travelling in a sort-of super-tank called the Landmaster. Starring George Peppard, Jan-Michael Vincent and Paul Winfield, Damnation Alley is an amiable tale rooted in the rugged serials and combat programmers of the '40s and the nuclear panic films of the '50s that forsake political subtext for taught thrills. This skeleton crew faces mutated cockroaches and trigger-happy rednecks along the way, while picking up a flighty French singer and rambunctious teenager. If things had gone according to plan, Damnation Alley would have been 20th Century Fox's massive blockbuster of 1977. Geeks would quote the tough talk of Peppard's Maj. Denton and miniature versions of the Landmaster would have found their way to the bottoms of million of Christmas stockings. In actuality, Damnation Alley was a bit of an expensive boondoggle and was overshadowed by the release of a film made primarily in England and set in the future, featuring unknown actors waving sticks at each other in front of green screens, entitled Star Wars. Damnation Alley's special effects look quaint today, but there's also a unique beauty, especially in the attention to detail paid to making the skies and weather effects look abstract and otherworldly. While we all know what happened with Star Wars, Damnation Alley faded into obscurity. This new DVD issue features three short interviews with co-writer Alan Sharp, producer Jerome Zeitman and vehicle designer Dean Jeffries, as well as a commentary track by producer Paul Maslansky. The general consensus among those who worked on the film is that it never got its due, but that it was also ambitious beyond its means. Damnation Alley may lack depth and ends too abruptly, but it also has an endearing charm and visual inventiveness far superior to any contemporary CGI crapfest. (Shout! Factory)