Damnation Alley (1977)

USA, 1976
91m
35mm film, Panavision (anamorphic), “colour by DeLuxe”, 2.35:1
Sound 360°, English

An American science fiction film directed by Jack Smight.

Plot Summary

In the aftermath of a nuclear war, a group of survivors attempt to drive across the wasteland of the USA in search of more like them. Along the way, they are menaced by biker gangs and mutant .

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Jack Smight
© by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Twentieth Century-Fox [logo], A Landers/Roberts/Zeitman production. Produced and released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Executive Producers: Hal Landers and Bobby Roberts
Produced by: Jerome M. Zeitman and Paul Maslansky
Screenplay by: Alan Sharp and Lukas Heller
From the Novel Damnaton Alley by: Roger Zelazny
Director of Photography: Harry Stradling Jr
Edited by: Frank J. Urioste
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Recording Mixer: Bruce Bisenz
Wardrobe: Michael Hoffman, Jennifer Parsons
Makeup: Lon Bentley
Hairdresser: Evelyn Preece
Special Effects: Milt Rice
Micro-photography: Ken Middleham
Laser Consultant: Clyde L. Tichenor
Laser Animation: Mimi Gramatki
Production Designer: Preston Ames

Cast
George Peppard (Denton)
Jan-Michael Vincent (Tanner)
Dominique Sanda (Janice)
Paul Winfield (Keegan)
Jackie Earle Haley (Billy)
Kip Niven (Perry)
Robert Donner (man/guard)
Seamon Glass (mountain man #2)
Trent Dolan (technician)
Mark L. Taylor (Haskins)
Bob Hackman (colonel)
Erik Cord (burning man)
Terence Locke (air policeman)
Marcia Holley (Gloria)

Alternative Titles

Aleja potepienia – Polish title
Callejón mortal – Spanish title
Helvetespassagen – Swedish title
Hornankuja – Finnish title
Jorden i flammer – Norwegian video title
Straße der Verdammnis – West German title
Survival Run – working title
L'ultima odissea – Italian title

Press

1977
Variety 26 October 1977 p.20
Finished more than a year ago, Damnation Alley has stepped back from several previous release dates among the usual rumors that the film had serious problems. Now, it's finally making the leap and, sure enough, the rumors were right. It has serious problems that murder its original potential. Nobody ever expected Damnation Alley to be a sensitive work of art. But it was supposed to be another of those exciting “disaster” pix, drawn from Roger Zelazny's novel about a band of survivors trying to make it across the U.S. after a devastating nuclear war. After Airport 1975, and Midway, director Jack Smight was entrusted to give the big-budget production the same popular pacing and scope. Instead, Alley is dull, stirred only occasionally by prods of special effects that only seem exciting compared to the dreariness that proceeded it. What's worse, it's dumb, depending on its stereotyped characters to do the most stupid things under the circumstances in order to keep the story moving. – from a review by Har

1978
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.537 (October 1978) p.196
Not one of Roger Zelazny's best novels by a long chalk, Damnation Alley at least had an intriguing premise in that its hero is the last surviving Hell's Angel, determined to live up to the worst traditions of his kind as he is coerced into making a world-saving run through “Damnation Alley” carrying vital supplies of antiplague serums. This, like virtually everything else in the novel, has been jettisoned in favour of a direly conventional plot which drags in the inevitable feminine interest and the equally inevitable juvenile waif, features some pathetically inadequate mutant monsters (giving rise to at least one classically fatuous line: “This whole town is infested with killer !”), and toys with some fashionable anti-militaristic digs in the clash laboriously set up between Denton and Tanner and then allowed to fizzle out pointlessly. Even worse than the tedious inconsequentiality of the plot is the lack of either imagination or skill in applying the film's all too evidently minimal budget: shots of Monument Valley in sinister monochrome to suggest areas of nuclear devastation; painted cycloramas alternating with laser animations for the mutated skies; shoddy process work leaving the characters haloed like cutout figures against the backgrounds. In short, a total disaster. – from a review by Tom Milne

References

Periodicals

  • American Cinematographer vol.58 no.11 (November 1977) pp.1182-1187 – illustrated article
  • Cinefantastique vol.5 no.1 (Spring 1976) p.35 – note (Coming)
  • Cinefantastique vol.5 no.4 (Spring 1977) p.26 – illustrated article (Coming: Hollywood homogenizes Zelazny by S. W. Schumack)
  • Cinefantastique vol.6 no.2 (Autumn 1977) pp.29-30 – illustrated article (Survival Run by Mick Garris)
  • Film Review vol.26 no.12 (December 1976) pp.18-19 – note
  • Films Illustrated vol.8 no.90 (February 1979) p.217 – note
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.241 no.30 (21 May 1976) p.14 – credits
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.241 no.38 (3 June 1976) p.6 – credits
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.248 no.16 (19 September 1977) p.11 – note
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.248 no.37 (19 October 1977) pp.2, 11 – credits, review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.537 (October 1978) p.196 – credits, synopsis, review (by Tom Milne)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.539 (December 1978) p.256 – note
  • Screen International no.154 (2 September 1978) p.17 – review
  • Time Out no.457 (19 January 1979) p.29 – review
  • Variety 26 October 1977 p.20 – credits, review (by Har)

Books

  • After the World Ends by Claude Gaillard pp.30-31 – illustrated review
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.317
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.78
  • Nuclear Movies: A Filmography by Mick Broderick p.82
  • Science Fiction Films of the Seventies by Craig W. Anderson pp.168-172
  • Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) p.30 – credits, review