21 May 2024
Detour to Terror (1980)
97 min.
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy.
With O.J. Simpson, Anne Francis, Randall Carver, Arte Johnson, Rick Hill, Kathryn Holcomb, Lorenzo Lamas, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Thomas Rosales Jr.
The Made-for-TV desert thriller entered a new decade (and had its last gasp) with this tense film about a busload of tourists heading from Albuquerque to Las Vegas who are terrorized by a group of thugs on dune buggies.

The plot starts out simple: the three villains (played with relish by Lorenzo Lamas, Randall Carver and Thomas Rosales, Jr.) plan to hijack the bus so they can kidnap a wealthy socialite married to one of the passengers and hold her for ransom.

But the scheme goes awry when they discover the woman is actually the man’s mistress. A back-up plan is hatched after the hooligans find evidence that a stamp is on board worth $90,000 - belonging to a would-be hero they had shot in the back.

It becomes a race against time as the travelers (led by driver O.J. Simpson) must try to get the bus started again before the gang returns.

Simpson was never much of an actor but he shows some charm and likeability with his low-key role.

With more than a passing nod to the disaster film cycle, Detour features the prerequisite assortment of characters: the hooker with a heart of gold, the jock, the loud Jewish older woman, etc.

Anne Francis is a standout in a showy role as a cancer survivor and chemotherapy patient who stashes a wad of cash under her wig!

Director Michael O’Herlihy, a veteran of numerous television series, keeps the pace brisk and exciting. Shot on location, the action is enhanced by the authentic New Mexican landscape.

Detour to Terror was Simpson’s second feature for his Orenthal Productions.

An interesting side note: the ill-fated Nicole Brown (the future Mrs. Simpson) has a non-speaking but very visible part. Creepy indeed.

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