Damnation Alley (1977)

PG | 91 mins | Science fiction, Adventure | 1977

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HISTORY

An item in the 28 Jun 1976 Box announced that Damnation Alley had begun shooting the week of 21 Jun 1976 outside Borrego Springs, CA, and from there the production was scheduled to move to Flagstaff, AZ. On 30 Aug 1976, Box reported that the film wrapped in Montana on 13 Aug 1976.
       As noted in publicity material from AMPAS library files, the futuristic twelve-wheel vehicle called "The Land Master" was based on a “patented invention” by Vehicle Systems Development Corporation. It was thirty-five feet long, twelve feet tall, weighed 21,800 pounds, and included a "391 Ford Truck Industrial Engine." Although two Land Masters were featured in the early part of the film, only one was fabricated.
       A 26 Oct 1977 Var review commented that Damnation Alley’s release had been postponed for over a year, despite several earlier release dates due to rumors of “serious problems.” However, an article in the 19 Sep 1977 HR stated that Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation had spent a year in post-production due to Damnation Alley’s special effects. According to producer Jerome M. Zeitman, over “300 different blue sky location shots” had to be replaced with various colors to reflect Earth’s post-apocalyptic atmosphere and extreme weather. Additionally, the $7.5-million film featured the studio’s new “Sound 360” system that surrounded audiences with six speakers, and the release date was delayed while 300-400 theaters could be outfitted with the new technology. Zeitman told HR that Damnation Alley opened in Japan in early Oct 1977, a couple of weeks before its American release, because the film was expected ...

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An item in the 28 Jun 1976 Box announced that Damnation Alley had begun shooting the week of 21 Jun 1976 outside Borrego Springs, CA, and from there the production was scheduled to move to Flagstaff, AZ. On 30 Aug 1976, Box reported that the film wrapped in Montana on 13 Aug 1976.
       As noted in publicity material from AMPAS library files, the futuristic twelve-wheel vehicle called "The Land Master" was based on a “patented invention” by Vehicle Systems Development Corporation. It was thirty-five feet long, twelve feet tall, weighed 21,800 pounds, and included a "391 Ford Truck Industrial Engine." Although two Land Masters were featured in the early part of the film, only one was fabricated.
       A 26 Oct 1977 Var review commented that Damnation Alley’s release had been postponed for over a year, despite several earlier release dates due to rumors of “serious problems.” However, an article in the 19 Sep 1977 HR stated that Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation had spent a year in post-production due to Damnation Alley’s special effects. According to producer Jerome M. Zeitman, over “300 different blue sky location shots” had to be replaced with various colors to reflect Earth’s post-apocalyptic atmosphere and extreme weather. Additionally, the $7.5-million film featured the studio’s new “Sound 360” system that surrounded audiences with six speakers, and the release date was delayed while 300-400 theaters could be outfitted with the new technology. Zeitman told HR that Damnation Alley opened in Japan in early Oct 1977, a couple of weeks before its American release, because the film was expected to receive huge box office grosses in Japan.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Jun 1976
---
Box Office
30 Aug 1976
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1977
p. 2, 11
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1977
p. 28
New York Times
22 Oct 1977
---
Variety
26 Oct 1977
p. 20
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Landers-Roberts/Zeitman production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Donald Roberts
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Maury Cohen
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Orig mus copyright © 1977
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd ed
Rec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Micro-photog
Laser consultant
Visual eff ed
Opt cam
Laser anim
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny (New York, 1969).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"Alone," music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed; "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," music and lyrics by Charles H. Gabriel and Ada R. Habershon, performed by Jan-Michael Vincent and Paul Winfield.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Survival Run
Release Date:
1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 Oct 1977
Production Date:
week of 21 Jun -- 13 Aug 1976
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
21 October 1977
LP49902
Physical Properties:
Sound
Sound 360® (patent pending)
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At the 123rd Strategic Missiles Wing of Tipton Air Force Base in California, Lt. Tanner and Major Denton admire the artwork of their colleague Sgt. Keegan while preparing for their shift at missile control stations deep below the Earth. As soon as they sit in position, World War III begins. Tanner and Denton fire missiles in response, but the nuclear attack is overwhelming. Most American cities, including Boston, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon, are destroyed. The force of the bombs also tilts the Earth’s axis and severely disrupts global weather patterns. Although civilization is mostly destroyed, the men at the missile command compound survive because the buildings were built to withstand a nuclear attack. Tanner deals with the tedium by riding a motorbike through the desert and dodging giant, radiation-mutated scorpions. Keegan spends his days painting murals on bunker walls. The two men live like ordinary civilians a part of the compound away from the other survivors, who are still trying to maintain a military command. One day an airman’s cigarette accidentally sets off an explosion inside the main building, killing all the military men except Major Denton and Lt. Perry. The two officers had been building two large, self-contained vehicles called Land Masters. With the two massive transports now ready, Denton asks Tanner and Keegan to accompany him and Perry to Albany, New York by way of a one-hundred-mile swath of land through America he calls "Damnation Alley." This route will take them safely around high-radiation areas to the one city the base ever received a signal from since the war. Denton and Tanner take the lead Land Master while Perry and Keegan follow behind in Land ...

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At the 123rd Strategic Missiles Wing of Tipton Air Force Base in California, Lt. Tanner and Major Denton admire the artwork of their colleague Sgt. Keegan while preparing for their shift at missile control stations deep below the Earth. As soon as they sit in position, World War III begins. Tanner and Denton fire missiles in response, but the nuclear attack is overwhelming. Most American cities, including Boston, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon, are destroyed. The force of the bombs also tilts the Earth’s axis and severely disrupts global weather patterns. Although civilization is mostly destroyed, the men at the missile command compound survive because the buildings were built to withstand a nuclear attack. Tanner deals with the tedium by riding a motorbike through the desert and dodging giant, radiation-mutated scorpions. Keegan spends his days painting murals on bunker walls. The two men live like ordinary civilians a part of the compound away from the other survivors, who are still trying to maintain a military command. One day an airman’s cigarette accidentally sets off an explosion inside the main building, killing all the military men except Major Denton and Lt. Perry. The two officers had been building two large, self-contained vehicles called Land Masters. With the two massive transports now ready, Denton asks Tanner and Keegan to accompany him and Perry to Albany, New York by way of a one-hundred-mile swath of land through America he calls "Damnation Alley." This route will take them safely around high-radiation areas to the one city the base ever received a signal from since the war. Denton and Tanner take the lead Land Master while Perry and Keegan follow behind in Land Master 2. However, a violent, tornado-driven storm soon causes Land Master 2 to roll over, killing Perry and injuring Keegan. After Keegan joins Denton and Tanner in Land Master 1, they arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the lights are still on and the slot machines are still paying off. Although at first there is no sign of life, a young woman named Janice soon approaches them, eager to join their eastern pilgrimage. Janice tells her new companions that she had been having a rendezvous with the casino manager in a fall-out shelter when the city was bombed, and she’s been alone since her lover died of a heart attack. Continuing on their journey to Albany, the survivors stop at a gas station in Salt Lake City, Utah. While Denton services the vehicle, Tanner drives Janice on his motorbike to Gregory’s Department Store. Though the friends are separated, they simultaneously discover why the human bones they’ve found around town are so white and stripped bare: Salt Lake City has been taken over by large flesh-eating cockroaches. Tanner and Janice escape an insect swarm inside the department store by leaping his bike from the top floor onto an adjoining parking garage. Keegan is bitten to death while trying to hide in an abandoned automobile. Further along their route, the travelers find Billy, a scruffy teenage boy living in a desert shack. Billy briefly fends off Denton and Tanner by throwing rocks, but they manage to wrestle him to the ground and convince him to come along with them. Sometime later at a roadside diner, four shotgun-toting mountain men with radiation-damaged faces take possession of Denton’s pistol. Three of the men move Tanner and Denton into the Land Master while Billy escapes out a diner window and the lead mountain man attempts to rape Janice. Billy reenters the diner and knocks out Janice's would-be rapist with a rock. Retrieving Denton's pistol from the unconscious man, Billy walks into the Land Master and surreptitiously hands the gun to Tanner, who shoots two of the men dead. The third man goes into the diner after Janice, but she escapes just before the Land Master’s rockets blow up the building. Later, while in a junkyard in Detroit, Michigan, the four companions encounter a terrible electrical storm, and its wind releases floodwaters that engulf the Land Master. However, because the vehicle was designed as an amphibian, it floats to the surface and chugs its way to shore. With the storm over, the sky has returned to a blue color and birds sing, indicating a correction in the earth’s axis. When Denton picks up a radio broadcast from Albany, he contacts the station and inquires about their proximity. In response, the broadcasters pinpoint Denton’s signal as only seventeen miles away. Billy hops on the back of Tanner's bike and the two of them head toward Albany, leaving Denton and Janice behind. Denton tells the station that emissaries are coming. Riding down a two-lane highway lined with homes, Tanner and Billy are greeted by a crowd of people who are overjoyed to see them.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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