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Damnation Alley

3.9 out of 5 stars 280 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The world is devastated by a nuclear holocaust, causing the Earth to tilt on its axis and bringing vast meteorological chaos. As the weather stabilizes, mutated insects start to emerge, preying on the survivors. The surviving crew at a U.S. Air Force bomb shelter in the Mojave Desert picks up radio signals coming from Albany. The commander, Major Eugene Denton (George Peppard, The A-Team), unveils two armored vehicles he has constructed and announces a plan to cross Damnation Alley, the hundred-mile-wide strip between areas of radiation hazard, to join the survivors. They set off, taking on two civilians, a novice singer they find in the ruins of Las Vegas and a wild teenager (Jackie Earle Haley,Watchmen), along the way. The journey is also beset by giant mutated cockroaches, storms and crazed survivalists, making for some hair-raising escapes in this post-apocalyptic thriller.

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A low-wattage cult hit among post-apocalypse movie fans, Jack Smight's Damnation Alley arrives on DVD in a deluxe presentation that underscores its troubled production, as well as its modest charms. Based very loosely on the 1967 novel of the same name by Roger Zelazny (who loathed the movie version), the film stars George Peppard and Jan-Michael Vincent as Air Force officers crisscrossing the ruins of America in massive armored personnel carriers (the 10-ton Landmaster, originally designed to lug trucks, and the film's most enduring image) in search of survivors. Their journey brings them in contact with shotgun-toting killers and giant, flesh-eating cockroaches, plus Jackie Earle Haley and Dominique Sanda as the final pieces in their new model of a nuclear family. Plagued by special-effects issues and reedits, Damnation Alley arrived with a thud in the wake of 20th Century Fox's other science-fiction release, Star Wars, which the studio initially regarded as Damnation's second-string support. The film developed a modest following in the ensuing decades among late-night TV habitués, who can finally retire their gray market dupes of the 1985 VHS release, thanks to Shout Factory's DVD release. The disc offers a new anamorphic widescreen presentation (minus the Sound 360 process, which was too damaged to preserve, but with three newer audio options), as well as commentary by veteran producer Paul Maslansky and a trio of interesting making-of documentaries, the most interesting of which features an interview with co-screenwriter Alan Sharp (Ulzana's Raid, Night Moves), whose assessment of his work isn't too far from Zelazny's reaction. Meanwhile, a look at the Landmaster with designer Dean Jeffries should satisfy fans of that unique vehicle. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

New anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.78:1)

Audio commentary with Producer, Paul Maslansky

Survival Run – a look at the challenges of adapting the celebrated novel with Co-creenwriter, Alan Sharp

Road To Hell – Producer, Jerome Zeitman details the process of making the film and the difficulties it encountered along the way

Landmaster Tales – a detailed examination of the now-famous Landmaster Vehicle from the film with Stunt Coordinator and Car Designer Dean Jeffries

Theatrical trailer and TV spot


Product Details

  • Actors: Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Jackie Earle Haley, Paul Winfield
  • Directors: Jack Smight
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: July 12, 2011
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004VT9JMG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,389 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Damnation Alley" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This is one of those movies in my VHS collection that I manage to watch once every year or so...just to escape the realities of the real world. I don't rank this as a great movie in the same way that you'd rank an Academy Award winner, but it's just a fun movie to watch as long as you can suspend belief for a while. I have to think that the actors/actress had fun making it, as the main characters seem to tread the fine line between "camp" and "classic". If you want something that won't make you think too hard and will reward you with a little escapism in a post-apocalyptic sort of way, then this is one for your library.

I don't understand why it still hasn't been released on DVD, but when it is, I'll be one of the first to buy it for my collection. The 1970s LIVE on and into the 21st Century!!!
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Perhaps not many of you have noticed that this movie is a "land-based" version of a previous film, starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, called "On the Beach" (1959).
There too we have a post-nuclear theme, in which all life on Earth has been wiped off the face of the planet, only to leave a few "desperados" alive, both on board of a U.S. submarine and on the shores, somewhere near Australia (the last bastion of life... but for how long?).
There too, we have a signal emitted from somewhere, in the northern hemisphere...

Yet, despite all similarities, this movie is a kind of updated version, with fine actors at the helm (although not of the caliber of said actors above) and a very interesting story development.

The difference is that this is less a drama-oriented movie and more an action-adventure-thriller oriented working of the subject.

If one remembers the period in which this movie was made (late seventies), baring in mind that this was a time of overblown "super-spectacular" apocalyptic, "end-of-the-world"-like flics, such as "Earthquake", "The Towering Inferno" and "The Swarm" (probably the last and worst of such movies), one can say that this one differs considerably in both quality and story-development.

I personally like this little "what if" effort. No big special effects, except for some stock footage of nuclear explosions, some pyrotechnics and varied color flavors in the sky (supposed to represent the variations in the Earth's atmosphere).

Sometimes, for a movie to be good, you simply don't need millions, just simply a solid story and fine acting. This is certainly a film that makes you think and entertains at the same time.
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18 Comments 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Just finished watching "Damnation Alley" released by 20th Century Fox.
I first saw "Damnation Alley" at the Midway Park Movie Theater in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina when it was first released back in 1977 - about a year after Star Wars had been released and a year after Ark II had it's first and only season as a Saturday morning post-apocalyptic show set in the 25th Century.
Even now, as I watched this movie again, I'm reminded how much the Landmaster resembled the Ark II. Only the Ark II never had a missile launcher, just a force field.
Ever since its release, "Damnation Alley;" which is based on the novel of the same name by Roger Zelazny, has enjoyed cult status as a post-apocalyptic road trip across an atomic bomb scarred United States.
World War III was a quick little war that started when the Soviet Union launched a preemptive first strike on the United States by using a the break up of an orbital satellite to cover the launch traces. Even though the missile defense of the United States destroys 40% of the incoming missiles, the damage done by the remaining 60% of the missiles that reached their target is enough to knock the Earth off it's tilt; and not cause a nuclear winter, but cause a bunch of bad weather - along with the creation of giant mutant scorpions and flesh eating cockroaches.
"Damnation Alley" may sound like a silly movie, but it's the steadfast heartfelt performances of George Peppard, Jan Michael Vincent, Dominique Sanda, and Jackie Earle Haley as the survivors who form a highly functional dysfunctional family unit as they try to reach a safe haven in Albany, New York, which is the only broadcast signal that can be heard anywhere in the United States, or the rest of the world for that matter.
STRONGLY AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
FIVE STARS!
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Format: DVD
Welcome to the alley - Damnation Alley! Post apocalyptic radiation storms, giant sand scorpions, flesh-eating cockroaches; the earth will never be the same. Two years after the third world war and the devastating nuclear holocaust that followed, a rag tag group of survivors led by Commander Major Eugene Denton (George Peppard) set out in search of civilization. Major Denton believes that there are other holocaust survivors living in Albany, because he has been monitoring their radio signals for some time.

Getting to Albany won't be easy for the group; they'll have to brave the one hundred mile wide corridor between the radiation belts known as "Damnation Alley" Fortunately for the group Major Denton spent his time at the military installation constructing two armored plated Landmaster vehicles that will carry them across the desolate wasteland to Albany. Will the Landmasters make it through Damnation Alley? Are there really other survivors living in Albany? You'll have to buy your own copy to see how this post apocalyptic cult classic ends.

Like other fans of this 1977 cult classic, I've waited for "Damnation Alley" to finally be released on DVD and after watching it last night; I'm a little disappointed with the picture and sound quality. I really thought the picture and sound quality from Shout factory for this long awaited DVD release was going to be spectacular, but it isn't.

The video transfer for the most part is pretty decent, although the picture does suffer from some noticeable grain and embedded artifacts here and there; not bad enough to ruin the viewing experience. I'd rate the video transfer about 7/10 because it's apparent no real picture restoration was done by Shout other than the standard digital remastering process.
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