Detour to Terror (1980) / Thriller-Action
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for violence
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: O.J. Simpson, Arte Johnson, Randall Carver, Anne Francis, Lorenzo Lamas, Rick Hill, Kathryn Holcomb, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Gloria Lynn Deyer, Pat Keating, Chris Noel, Phil Mead, Pat Ripley, Thomas Rosales
Director: Michael O'Herlihy
Screenplay: Mark Rodgers
Review published April 28, 2005
Produced by O.J. Simpson (The Naked Gun, The Towering Inferno) himself, as well as by Playboy Magazine, Detour to Terror is a made-for-television movie that aired on NBC in early 1980. It's a fairly standard thriller in the Airport vein, with O.J. as the bus driver hauling a bus full of passengers from New Mexico to Las Vegas for some gambling and carousing. Some lowlifes in dune buggies drive the bus off course and out into the desert, where they kidnap one of the passengers they believe to be of wealth, and also steal what belongings they can from the other passengers. With most of the tires blown out, and the company not knowing they are coming, O.J. tries to figure out a way to keep the passengers alive before they die of dehydration or exposure to the grueling desert heat.
While nothing special, Detour to Terror isn't the worst film of its kind, going through predictable motions with competence, only really undone by the sheer pedestrian nature of the derivative script. O.J. turns in a likeable performance, and he's surrounded by a few notable names, including Arte Johnson (Love at First Bite, "Laugh-In") as the annoying tour guide, Lorenzo Lamas (Grease, Dark Waters) as one of the bad guys, Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet, Bad Day at Black Rock) as Sheila, and if you look quick, you will catch glimpses of Nicole Brown Simpson, the woman that O.J. would later viciously murder, as an extra on the bus. I mean, "allegedly" murder (wink, wink).
You'd have to be at your wit's end with boredom to even attempt to sit through a film like Detour to Terror, as it is wholly predictable and full of strange character motivations, where no one really acts like a real person would given the same set of circumstances. Unless you need confirmation that O.J. could drive a vehicle other than a white Ford Bronco, or would like to see a precursor of "World's Dumbest Criminals", this is one bus you can certainly afford to miss.
©2005 Vince Leo