The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: ‘Damnation Alley’

Jack Smight‘s 1977 feature, Damnation Alley is a movie I recall l fondly from when I was growing up.  It’s (very) loosely based upon a novel by Roger Zelazny, and while it’s an entertaining movie, it’s not a particularly good one.

I while I don’t know how the movie was filmed, it feels epic and looks massive (which had a lot to do with the excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith which managed to be bold and at the same time minimal enough that it didn’t take over).

Events take place after a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.  You’re never told who started the conflict or why, though like W.O.P.R. said, “The only way to win is not to play.”

Unfortunaely for these guys, War Games came out in 1983, so they erred on the side of mutually assured destruction.  The United States is devastated and most of the land reduced to desert, while the sky is irradiated and angry with aurora borealis.

Though on what I assume is the last remaining military installation everything life goes on.  Maj. Eugene Denton (George Peppard) is in command, and is military through and through, while Tanner (Jan-Michael Vincent) and Keegan (Paul Winfield) don’t see the point of playing soldier any longer, so the former spends his time riding about the desert on his motorcycle, dodging giant scorpions (because radiation does nothing else if not create giant versions of things) while the latter  works on a mural.

While on the base, someone falls to sleep with a lit cigarette, causing the destruction of the outpost.  Major Denton uses this moment to unveil the Army’s latest, and perhaps last, weapons: LandMaster 1 and LandMaster 2.

Assuming that there were areas of the United States free of radiation the vehicles set off into an uncertain future.

As I said prior, Damnation Alley isn’t a particularly good movie, but it is an interesting one and well worth remaking mainly for one reason:  The Landmasters.

If you’ve seen movies like the Transformers or Tron: Legacy, an integral part of those film is the fetishization of technology, which the Landmaster was in its time, and could be again.

5 thoughts on “The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: ‘Damnation Alley’

  1. Not unlike the movie, this review was generally inaccurate. Denton wasn’t in command of the military base and the radiation caused other mutations other than “enlargement”… You can’t write reviews very well if you skim or speed read the book and fast forward through the film or otherwise take breaks without pausing. Just saying.

    1. No idea what you’re going on about, especially considering that the review was of the movie, not the book. It helps to have some idea what you’re talking about. Just saying.

  2. Set in the near future the year 1997 a group of two military operatives in Southern California at US Air Force military installation they launched a ballistic missiles with nuclear warhead & target a Russian ballistic missiles & destroyed the entire American cities all devastated & other people evacuated & killed several people during a nuclear war a years later now abandoned military base & survivors escaped then travelled around & search for survival including a lady from Las Vegas & a redneck teenage boy orphan joined the survivors & after the devastating hurricane & tidal wave flood in Detroit Michigan & finally escaped to Canada a neutral country full of peaceful survivors & a mission succesful ended in a final journey for the future of mankind.

  3. The real need to remake damnation alley is really making the movie for the first time. As you may be aware of, the original screenplay ended up on the editors cutting floor in which much of the story ended up. Then another cut when they realized the first cut which was from the story looked like a college prep video of what not to do to a movie.. So in fact a movie originated from the original storyline would make a great movie in today’s world. A short footnote, when the front office of any corporation becomes involved in a final product tells a story of failure from the start.

    1. I enjoyed Damnation Alley. That being said, I also–having read Roger Zelazny’s novel (novella is more like it)–understand that the movie had little in common with the novel. The thing is I enjoy tech, and the Bandmaster was all sorts of awesome. So, you’re right, it would be good to get a ‘Damnation Alley’ that was closer related to the novel.

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