WRITERS: Based on an original story idea by Charles Band
Story by John Rheaume and Greg Suddeth & Mark Goldstein
Screenplay by Peter David
DIRECTOR: Sam Irvin
STARRING: Richard Joseph Paul as Zack Stone
Jackie Swanson as Mattie Chase
Andrew Divoff as Redeye
Meg Foster as Stell Barr
Isaac Hayes as Buster
Julie Newmar as Miss Kitty
Carel Struycken as Gaunt
George Takei as Doc Valentine
Musetta Vander as Lash
Jimmie F. Skaggs as Buteo
Irwin Keyes as Bork
Mike Genovese as Marshall Stone
Frank Roman as Wormhole
Jeff Moldovan as Spanner
QUICK CUT: On the distant planet of Oblivion in the year 3031, the wild west meets the final frontier, when an outlaw lizard known as Redeye comes to town and kills the local marshall and decides to take over.
Zack Stone - The son of the slain marshall, who left town years ago when he discovered his empathic powers. He's sworn to peace, but his word is seriously taxed when he confronts his father's killer.
Redeye - The local gang leader. A lizard with a missing eye, and a plan to run the law out of Oblivion for good. He only cares about himself, and is truly a cold blooded killer.
Buteo - A strange occurance of a Native American on an alien planet. Not quite sure how that works. Is he native to the planet? I'm confused... Um, anyways, his family is wiped out by one of Redeye's goons, and he's saved by Zack, so the two team up for great vengeance.
Gaunt - The local mortician, with the handy ability to forsee someone's death, so he can get the corpse when its fresh. He's feared for his predictive abilities, but is not malicious in his business.
Mattie - She's pretty much stock love interest material, but she also owns the general store.
Lash, Bork, Wormhole, & Spanner - Redeye's goon squad, made up of a bad girl, a moron, a spanish stereotype, and...some guy.
Stell Barr - The marshall's half cyborg deputy, treated about much of a second class citizen as Buteo. She teams up and encourages Zack to take on his father's mantle.
THE GUTS: The movie starts off in the deserts of California...er, Oblivion, and a cheesy model effect zooms over the camera and lands. And I'm getting the mocking of effects off my chest now, so I can leave them be for the next 90 minutes.
While the credits are rolling, the movie actually decides to have plot type stuff going on, because the running time wasn't short enough, apparently. We see someone get off the spaceship that landed, pass the welcome to Oblivion sign, and munch on a creature sitting atop it. He also chooses to then correct the population sign from 539 to 538 after his snack. I somehow doubt that's how population counts work, but whatever. Let's see how long we can keep track of the population as it drops!
Get ready for culture clashing, as this very Western planet indeed, also has ATM machines and electric lights. And while I'm on the subject of the electric lights, what is up with the lamp posts having fans on them? Are they trying to say the planet is THAT hot?
We meet the local mortician, Mister Gaunt, dressed all in black like he should be slashing women in London's east end. Or possibly Oklahoma. And he's surprised that people aren't happy to see him. Dude, it's not because you're the mortician, or because you remind them of Lurch. YOU LOOK LIKE JACK THE RIPPER.
He heads into Miss Kitty's saloon, and Miss Kitty is played by...Julie Newmar, one of television's Catwomen! Boy, that name isn't on the nose at all, is it?
While those two catch up, the man from the spaceship walks through town, and lightbulbs on the streetlights go pop as he passes by. I have a friend that can do that. I'm not impressed. And he must spend a fortune to light his home. No wonder he's an outlaw, it's the only way he can pay for the bulbs.
Redeye catches up to a man in stocks and busts him loose then buries a glowing crystal in the dirt. While he does that, the saloon is blissfully unaware as Gaunt watches the marshall play poker on an electronic card machine, with Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Julie Newmar continues to creepily make cat noises until Redeye calls out Marshall Stone. Kitty tries to talk him out of it, but Stone says its a matter of respect, and pushes his badge until it lights up. Uh?
Stone heads out the door, and his deputy follows. She must be a robot, because she whirrs when she moves. That's the universal sign for robot.
The marshall is told to stop by Redeye, right over a clearly dug out spot in the dirt. I'm blind and I can see it, even without the closeup! And more uh?? as the badge turns off.
Redeye nicely overacts and chews some scenery until they both draw. Redeye is the faster shot, and takes out the marshall, who lands right into Gaunt's waiting arms. All thanks to the force field the badge was projecting going fooey. And I guess we're down to population 537.
Stone's partner comes over to deal with things, but she falls over into a heap right next to Stone. I guess the glowy crystal macguffin does something to electronics. All the while, Miss Kitty is hissing and spitting off to the side.
It would've been nice to have them actually explain all that stuff with the badge and crystals before they were plot points.
Stell struggles to reach a gun, when another woman in a cloak whips her to make her stop. Her suddenly arrived minions yank back the cloak, revealing what I can only describe as a western themed dominatrix look.
Redeye removes Stone's badge crushing it beneath his boot, and is about to make sure Stone is dead dead, when Miss Kitty jumps in, hissing and spitting some more, making him stop. Not even Redeye can take out such a well known actress.
As Redeye and friends wander out of town after an executional well done, the movie cuts to someone doing some prospecting elsewhere. He looks up when he hears the camera crew rustling nearby. His metal detector finds some gold, but he just tosses it away. See, it's funny because on Oblivion, gold has no value, but for us it's very rare and expensive and...ehh.
Meanwhile, in movie C, there's a guy spread-eagled and tied down to four posts. He screams as the camera rushes into his face, and then we see the giant mutated scorpion like thing coming to get him.
The stop motion animation effect is chased off by the prospector, who reveals himself to be Zack Stone, and he unties the poor man on the ground. His new friend is Buteo, and they go off to bury the guy's family. So, his family is dead, and he got tied down by someone...anyone else think his story might make a decent movie unto itself?
Redeye and his goons celebrate their victory, makeand their plans to go around town, badmouthing the old system, to bring more people around to their way of thinking. Spreading the word of their deeds to free Oblivion from the Guild's control, they hope to step into the void. Pff, like Felicia Day would be that tyrannical a ruler.
Back with the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Zack tries to get Buteo to talk about his story, but he refuses. No please, it has to be more interesting than this movie!
Then Buteo decides to instantly tell his story anyways. People came, killed his family, and took a trinket that has been in his family for generations, and looks to have been a sample of darkonium, the same stuff Redeye planted beneath Marshall Stone to make his badge futz up. So yeah, they both have their reasons for revenge coming up.
Buteo then gives Zack another stone around his neck, for no apparent reason beyond plot convenience, but I guess you can chalk it up to being grateful for not being dead.
He cries vengeance for what has happened, even though he only saw one of the attackers. And in a bit of irony sure to come back and bite him in the ass, Zack says that vengeance is a hollow pursuit that won't help anything. Gonna be eating those words for breakfast, boy.
Buteo sees the mortician coming in a vision, and Zack wants to flee, since the coming of Gaunt means death is coming. Um, it doesn't work that way. Even though he does have psychic powers, his coming doesn't always mean death is coming. It can't! How would he get his laundry done? What if he just wants a cookie??
Gaunt passes along the news of Zack's father being killed, in the most flowery, Claremontian ways possible, which just confuses poor Zack. Once he asks what Gaunt is talking about, the mortician dumbs it down for the bumpkin with a simple, "He's dead."
And in what may be the most gratuitous appearance and reference ever, there's George Takei getting drunk on a bottle of Jim Beam. And he says, I shit you not, "Jim....Beam me up." I am without words.
George is playing wacky Doc Valentine. He was a friend of the marshall's, and is drowning his grief as any good man does. He's stumbling around comedically, providing the intended laughs as opposed to the unintentional snickering. He's trying to get even more drunk, but they cut him off down at Kitty's.
Even Mattie at the general store won't sell him any booze. And it doesn't go well when she tries to offer him coffee. George is so overacting in this, and it's a blast to watch. Then he pulls a gun on the shopkeeper. Talk about your alcoholic abuse.
After that pointless interlude, we're back to the Three Amigos travelling back to town, and they stop at a random shack dotting the middle of nowhere. Inisde, someone is selling off his darkonium, which may as well be gold for everything they're doing with it. And hey, look who's doing the deal!
Redeye's space Mexican is making the rounds, and convincing people to side with him and his boss. He's even enticing them with "Better Red than dead" buttons. Really.
Zack sells the pendant Tonto gave him, and his Space Indian friend says he could have done better in Oblivion. When he asks Zack why he doesn't want to go there, Zack says he doesn't want to talk about it. But then he does, in a highlarious turnabout of the earlier scene!
The Space Mexican comes over to taunt Zack about his uncle's death, but he just wants to be left alone. So naturally, Wormhole pulls a knife. Is it wrong to call this a Mexican standoff?
Buteo lets Wormhole go, but then gets punched in the face for no reason other than probably space racism. And cue the space western bar fight.
Cue almost every saloon fight cliche in the books you can think of. The only reason no one goes out a window, is because Gaunt wanders in and everyone runs. One of the patrons even waves his arms in the air and shouts right at the camera at the mere sight of him.
As if the movie didn't have enough references already, Gaunt tries to order a Schlitz beer, and when Buster says they're out, he tosses back the old Schlitz slogan, "Then you're out of beer!"
Patchy shows up at Mattie's shop where Doc Valentine is resting up, and Redeye makes several advances on the shopkeeper. Gee, you would think a guy with his lizardly good looks could get any woman he wants.
Mattie declines the criminal's advances, which is good for her, but bad for her shop, as the goons smash the place up. Well, it might be worse if everything in the shop wasn't made of plastic.
Doc Valentine hears the ruckus and...promptly lays back down on the bed. That leaves it up to Mattie to take his gun and save herself. Yay! Surprisingly, it works.
Zack and friends finally arrive, and he finds the sheriff's station in a shambles, but immediately finds a loose floorboard and his inheritance stashed inside. He hopes to find enough money to get off this dusty rock, but instead all he finds is more dust, and the marshall's deputy in a cell.
They talk about if Stell is going to be the new sheriff in town, but she doesn't want the job, especially since she knows that Redeye has a huge supply of darkonium. So, it's a known thing this stuff messes with tech. You would think they'd be better prepared for it, or not as surprised. Or overly confident in their forcefields. Or cyborgs.
And so the time has come for the marshall's funeral, but since it is Thursday, it's also time for bingo. A brief interlude of emotion completely undercut by hearing people call out their numbers in the background.
Zack tries to give his emotional eulogy as best he can for his dad, but those damned interuptions... On the upside, where else are you going to see Catwoman sitting next to Mr. Sulu?
But those interuptions would almost be welcome to what comes through the door when Redeye and his gang arrive to pay their disrespect. Gaunt demands no violence be done in this place, and that becomes difficult when Tonto recognises Spanner as the man who helped kill his family. Gasp, what a shock.
At the burial, Stell comes up to Tonto and hits on him, very openly and bluntly. That's random and out of nowhere. If only we'd spent any time with her character before now.
Zack heads over to Valentine's, after he gets smacked by Mattie, to get drunk about his dad. As a brief aside, this guy's boots that go jingle, jangle, jingle? Is driving me up the wall.
Meanwhile, Buteo takes a box over to Miss Kitty's, and since Zack isn't there, now is a good time to talk about him! Miss Kitty tells Mattie about Zack's empathic abilities, and how they're the reason he left town. After killing a man, and feeling it himself, he vowed never to take another life, and went off to live on his own.
Buteo spies Spanner across the saloon, and takes his box over to challenge the killer. Inside the box is a creature known as the manding, and we learn the creature hates many things, but nothing more than fear. If it senses fear, it will attack. And anything that knows fear will burn at the manding's touch.
That's not my joke, that's the movie's. You either get that one, or you don't.
To keep things short, the pair arm wrestle, and the frog thing bounces back and forth between them, until it finally decides to eat Spanner. Buteo grabs his pendant back from the killer, and get away. I guess Space Indian food was too spicy for it. The idiot member of Redeye's gang shoots the creature dead, and gets into a scuffle with Buteo.
Stell arrives just in time to shoot the guy in the back, and when Buteo rushes outside to go get some help with the body count, he runs right into Lash, who gives him a good whipping.
Back inside, Bork is just too dumb to die, and while he did not shoot the sheriff, he did shoot the deputy, then heads outside when Redeye calls him.
Zack senses a disturbance in the Force and runs in the direction of his bad feeling, only to find his sidekick captured his father's killer. Convenient how everything comes together, eh? Zack might be about to do...something, but Bork tells him he shot Stell. At the news of the injured robot, Doc shoots out, "Great Scotty!" and rushes to help her, with Zack's aid, allowing the villains to escape.
Doc tells him to grab something off his desk, and Zack sees his father's badge underneath it, picking it up. Ahh, the call to action.
Back outside, the gang puts Buteo in the stocks, and put him on trial. Or convinct him outright, as these things go. Lash gets excited once the speechifying is done, and gets to work on the space native. And Zack feels every lashing.
And more Star Trek references as Doc tries to patch up Stell, and shouts out how he's a doctor, not a magician.
Zack also feels the pain from Stell's repairs, learning how even life can bring pain, I guess, deciding enough is enough, and he has to do something.
The marshall's son heads out into the main street to stop the violence, and tells the gang to get out of town. They don't take his threats seriously, because they know he's a wussy. Oh, and no one will die because Gaunt isn't around. That is a stellarly bad way to judge your safety.
Especially when Zack shoots the Space Mexican in the next moment. And hey, he falls right into Gaunt's arms! I guess he WAS around! Zack continues shooting, taking off Redeye's right arm in just one shot. Man, they do not build lizards the way they used to.
The gathered townsfolk decide to attack Zack on Redeye's say so. I guess they really were easily swayed to his side. We then get treated to seeing each and every one of the nameless background extras gunned down, and none of our heroes getting hit. Zack is about to be caught from behind, but a repaired Stell saves the day.
So that's all it takes for the fickle crowd to turn against Redeye and tear off their buttons and...oh for. Come on! We do not need a "We don't need no stinking badges!!" line amidst all this other punnery!
Lash captures Mattie while no one is looking, and Bork drags the injured Redeye back to their lair. Once inside, the lizard man regrows his lost arm.
The heroes celebrate their victory at Miss Kitty's, and we find out she knew Zack's mother, and she and his dad would have been proud of their son that day. I hope the implication isn't that Kitty is his mother? Should I even worry about that as a plot thread? Since it never comes up again, my answer is no.
And the movie gets a genuine laugh out of me, when Buteo, who has taken every opportunity so far to make grand, majestic speeches, says he has nothing to say. Zack decides to celebrate by buying everyone a round. Buteo interupts with, "Except..." and Zack shouts out to cancel the order. Cute stuff, and feels very much like the Peter David dialogue I'm used to from comics.
Gaunt stops by to tell Zack and friends he's heading out to Redeye's to pick up a delivery, and we learn that he is indeed psychic and knows where people will die, just not the who or the how. That makes the past hour of his appearances make more sense. Zack sends him on his way happily, and goes to apologise to Mattie for his earlier harshness. Or he would, if Gaunt didn't tell him what happened to her.
So, the Simpsons are going to the Badlands!
On the way there, Bork grabs the deputy and disarms her, but she has a gun in her finger and is still able to shoot him. So, short of literally disARMing her, I guess she's always have weapons. Would've been nice to use that trick, oh, at any point in the previous hour, Stell. And still, he's too stupid to die.
Suddenly, Redeye and Lash are there with their hostage, which doesn't last long as Mattie headbutts Lash and runs away. Lizzie shoots her in the leg though, and the blood is sure to draw out the night scorps to dinner. Claws instead of Jaws?
Bork tears off Stell's hand, but she just grins and flames burst out of her wrist. Geeze, she's a swiss army deputy. And STILL he doesn't die. Call the X-Men, they lost a mutant.
Meanwhile, the main characters punch each other up to the side of a cliff, where Redeye gets the upper hand, and pulls a hidden laser blaster from his boot. That shoots a cheap, green effect and makes no sound. And this is where the budget ran out.
Taking a cue from our previous review, Zack buries his father's badge into Redeye's one good eye, and he stumbles off the cliff into the waiting claws of the lobsotrosities below. But not before Gaunt retrieves the badge. And Zack gets to overact and feel all of Redeye's pain.
Lash is about to finish off Buteo, who won't hurt women. But fortunately, Stell rushes in and pushes him out of the way. Bork instead gets the taste of Lash's electric whip. He's not happy about it, and still not dead, so chases off his former friend into the sequel.
And so Zack accepts his burden as sheriff, and everyone rides off into the to be continued.
Video: Uninspired, grainy, washed out. Pretty typical for a cheap, quick DVD made from a direct to VHS movie. There've been several releases of this movie, with zero difference between them, which makes no sense. There are a ton of glitches in it between cuts, a lot of jumps and flickers, and it could use any work at all.
Audio: An ok stereo mix, that's clear and easy to hear, but it's also clearly from an old source that didn't get any attention paid to it.
First Blood: Marshal Stone getting killed in the shootout roughly seven minutes in.
Best Corpse: I gotta give the award to Redeye being batted around and torn apart by the scorps.
Sound Bite: "No point in messing up such a fine pussy as yourself." Said by Redeye to, surprise, Miss Kitty. I'm making up for not making that joke in my Sleepwalkers review.
Blood Type - C: Pretty bloodless, with the most gory effect, and a pretty good one considering! of Redeye's arm growing out of his stump.
Sex Appeal: Miss Kitty, mrrrrow! Yeah, nothing to see here. Well, Lash's leather fetish?
Movie Rating: Bleh. This is bland. It's barely even a space western. It's mostly a western with a lizard man in it, which has no bearing on the plot. Even growing back his arm is unimportant. It doesn't even have lasers. Force fields are the only tech that actually comes into play as a plot point. But even there, it's your standard Western, with no real innovation, and the acting is bland, the direction is uninspired...two out of severed arms.
Entertainment Value: Ahh, but there's some funny dialogue here, and if you don't mind groaning at the bad puns, that's good too. The cameos are the biggest selling point of this movie. Takei, Newmar, others. Watching them ham it up, is a blast. But again, since the movie is a standard western with some shiny bits stapled on hastily, it's tough to really get interested, as amusing as it is. It's easy to see why this is a cult film, as it's just wacky enough to be amusing, with quotable dialogue here and there, and is just bad enough to be unnoticed by the general populace. But this could have been so much better. Three out of five stabbed eyes.
Oh, if only someone would do a scifi western with a budget...