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DAMNATION ALLEY

year: 1977 cast: Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Jackie Earle Haley rating: ****
DAMNATION ALLEY has regarded by some critics as a horrible science-fiction post-nuclear film... it isn't: An adventurous and creative plot centers on a group of military survivors in and outside of a large all-terrain desert vehicle called "The Landmaster" battling killer cockroaches, giant crabs, and mutated hillbillies: a terrific ride that keeps you interested in the fate of the military men played by Jan-Michael Vincent (the dirt bike riding rogue), George Peppard (the leader), Paul Winfield (the artist), and the civilians they pick up on the way: Dominique Sanda (the babe) and Jackie Earle Haley (a rock throwing kid).

Scenes involving the shark-shaped vehicle plundering across the barren desert avoiding lighting storms, tornadoes and floods are riveting and intense, as are the frequent stops at seemingly deserted gas stations and towns where various antagonists, man and beast alike, try killing them.

It's a post-nuke RAT PATROL that kicks ass from beginning to end. But on the other side of the coin, and why the film’s quality is often maligned, are the dated special effects: but that's okay. It's a character-driven piece so the visual flaws don't matter.
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