An interesting factoid is that the author (Roger Zelazny) of the original book by the same name was very pleased with the first script that he was shown and was very surprised when he went to the movie and discovered that the entire thing had been rewritten!
The film was made for about $17 million, not a small amount in 1977. Still, the effects are a bit sub-par. The giant scorpions are terribly shoddy. They apparently tried full scale props, but thought they looked too fake and went with the post-production green screened in shots of real scorpions. If you see the footage you have to wonder how bad DID the props look that this was a better option?
As I said the real stars of the film is the 7-ton Landmasters. This was such a convincing looking vehicle that the studio, 20th Century Fox, had extra scenes of the truck added into the film to show it off and to hope that they would help hide the fact that everything else was crap. They also insisted that the FX department rotoscoped in the "radioactive" sky effect in almost all the scenes to give the world a more post-apocalyptic look. This caused the move to spend 10 months in post-production thus delaying the release till after a certain other sci-fi film that Fox was releasing the same year. Fox had low expectations for Star Wars
and Damnation Alley
was expected to be the blockbuster of the two!
It was eventually released on October 21, 1977 to poor reviews and quickly disappeared from the theaters only to find itself with a bit of a cult following once it made it's way to the home video and cable market.
Not a good movie, but if you are like me and just think something like the Landmaster is a damn cool thing, worth a watch. It is available on DVD
, but does not appear to be available through Netflix.
One last shot of the Landmaster!