Release Date: December 14th, 1994 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Sam Irvin Actors: Richard Joseph Paul, Jackie Swanson, Andrew Divoff, Meg Foster, Isaac Hayes, Julie Newmar, Carel Struycken, George Takei, Musetta Vander
elcome to the Old West town of Oblivion, population 539. 538 if you were counting the little Muppet-like bat creature perched on the sign at the city limits, torn to shreds by a mysterious alien stranger strolling into town. This little place, existing in the year 3031 according to the theatrical poster art, also houses a tall, black-garbed undertaker with a towering top hat (symbolizing death), a sarcastic marshal (or “marshall” as it’s erroneously misspelled on the badge), conjoined twin one-eyed gamblers, a whip-wielding dominatrix called Lash (Musetta Vander), a booze-loving Doc Valentine (George Takei), and a leopard print-covered bar woman named Miss Kitty (Julie Newmar, quite appropriately).
The hero is cowardly, peace-loving cowboy prospector Zack Stone (Richard Joseph Paul), the son of the recently murdered sheriff. Stone teams up with the wise but revenge-driven Indian loner Buteo (Jimmie Skaggs) in the hunt for the precious mineral Dirconium, which has the power to… well, it isn’t really defined. They’re also out for vengeance against a vicious alien, the reptilian Redeye (Andrew Divoff), a merciless killer that wishes to take over the whole town. The scaly villain is guarded by a colorful band of henchmen, who assist in tearing up Oblivion to demonstrate Redeye’s influence and power. Zack must additionally join forces with Deputy Stell Barr (Meg Foster), a tough-as-nails, blue-eyed cyborg; Miss Mattie Chase (Jackie Swanson), the damsel in distress who runs the local department store; and the tipsy doctor, Valentine.
Based on an original story idea by Charles Band (which usually means trouble), “Oblivion” offers a mix of genres that rarely appears in film. Unfortunately, the moviemakers choose to be more comedic than serious, leading to a tongue-in-cheek, goofy approach to the action, the characters, and the plot. Takei makes bad “Star Trek” jokes while grossly overacting, Zack cries like a wee lass, a bargirl with a skirt made of bananas frequents the background, and a bingo game takes place simultaneously with a somber funeral. An arm-wrestling match in front of a jolly green frog thing and a slow-motion showdown in a crowded saloon are the heights of the action, as Zack spends the majority of the movie leisurely chatting with the Doc, nagging Buteo, or whining to Mattie.
The character designs are strangely amusing, adding alien gunslingers, leather and lace, freakish mutants, a Zorro-like bullfighter, stop-motion monsters, gothic attire, a Davy Crockett rip-off, and grungy cowpoke getups to a film that already fuses numerous cinematic styles. Outside of the visuals, “Oblivion” consists of ideas that could have been enjoyable if they weren’t executed so poorly. The lack of seriousness, the pitiful humor, the bad acting, and the hokey dialogue all contribute to the generally low quality – but it’s ultimately the direction that ruins the plot. The story could have been something more had it not been approached with so much puerility. Even the budget isn’t noticeably small – except for the sad giant night scorpions. Perhaps most baffling of all, however, is the conclusion, which doesn’t end in a cliffhanger yet has the nerve to print “To Be Continued” on the screen. Sure enough, “Backlash: Oblivion 2” was released straight to video two years later, employing a nearly identical cast.
– Mike Massie