Sunday, March 23, 2014

Movies by year: 1977

(Watch your step, mild spoilers ahead)

Life was simple when I was seven. Movies were mostly simple that year too. Demon Seed had the nightmarish scenario of a teched-up house taking on a life of its own and deciding reproduction was the way to go. Why Shoot The Teacher? had Bud Cort in the worst school district ever during the depression. Superman had the caped crusader being generally charming, handsome and funny, but then ruining it by TIME TRAVELLING BY FLYING AROUND THE EARTH. That still stings a bit. Slap Shot proved what we already know about hockey: it's not fun until there's blood. And, of course, Star Wars came out. No, I'm not going to write about that one. In the end, there's one that really stands out for me:

Damnation Alley

Okay, first of all, I'm going to tell you this: this is not a good movie. What it is, though, is a fun movie.

WWIII and its ensuing nuclear bombs have thrown the Earth's axis way off, resulting in wacky skies and mutated insects. Our heroes are all that's left of an Air Force base in California, and when an accident destroys their base, they decide to follow a signal they're getting from Albany. They pack themselves into the most awesome vehicles ever and go across the country, battling giant scorpions, armour-plated cockroaches, insane mountain men and tidal waves, losing comrades and gaining passengers along the way. George Peppard and Jan-Michael Vincent are so earnest you want to slap them, Jackie Earle Haley is young and feral, and the effects are pretty dodgy, but damn those Landmasters were awesome.

This was the sci-fi movie the studio thought was going to be their big hit that year (they had no confidence in Star Wars), and boy were they wrong. But I will always have a place in my heart for this movie. See, my Dad took my brothers to see Star Wars. Not me though. No, it was to be a boys' movie and I wasn't allowed. I get it now of course, but at the time it was such a slap in the face. To make it up to me, later Dad took me - just me, not them - to see Damnation Alley. And I loved it. It was ours.

Apparently Roger Zelazny really hated it, it veered so far from his original novel. I've never read it though. Have you?

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