Sci-fi and the western have long been some of the most popular and successful genres in American movie history, so combining the two would seem like a great idea to any film studio. So after the release of his studio’s, Full Moon Entertainment, hit 1989 film ‘Puppet Master’ and its 1991 follow-up ‘Puppet Master 2,’ B-movie veteran actor Charles Band hoped to create another successful franchise, the sci-fi-western mix ‘Oblivion.’ But with its absurd plot, lackluster acting and terrible special effects, Band is most likely happy that many people have forgotten one of his studio’s earliest entries.
The ill-conceived storyline for the movie, which was written by Peter David, follows renegade alien leader Redeye (played by Andrew Divoff) as he and his gang of outlaws try to overtake the small town of Oblivion on a planet light-years away from Earth in the year 3031. Redeye shoots and kills his nemesis, Oblivion’s only lawman, Marshall Stone (portrayed by Michael Genovese), and begins terrorizing the town’s remaining residents.
Meanwhile, Stone’s son Zack (played by Richard Joseph Paul) rescues a native, Buteo (portrayed by Jimmy F. Skaggs), from his impending death. While Zack hasn’t been back to Oblivion in years, the town’s undertaker, Gaunt (played by Carrel Struycken) seeks him out and brings him back to town to pay his respects to his newly-deceased father. While back in Oblivion, Zack not only has to deal with the town’s contempt towards him, but fight Redeye and his desperados at the same time.
‘Oblivion,’ which was first released on VHS in 1994 and was re-released onto DVD by Full Moon this year, deserved credit for trying to uniquely combine the sci-fi and western genres together. However, director Sam Irvin failed to create a distinctive sci-fi-western mix, as the film’s story wasn’t entertaining or intriguing. Irving focused too heavily on the characters debating whether they should take revenge on those who wronged them or if they should forgive them and move on. Since the film leaned heavier towards the western genre, as there weren’t many space and/or alien effects, fans of the western genre will most likely be disappointed Irving didn’t include more fight scenes that they have grown accustomed to.
Another reason Irvin failed to create a genuine western-alien hybrid was that he included too many characters in the film. Instead of picking one character to focus on and show his side of the story, Irvin went back and forth between Zack and his followers and Redeye and his gang members. Not much information is given about any character, and viewers will be left wondering why they should root for Zack and why they should despise Redeye.
Many of ‘Oblivion’s stars, particularly Paul and Divoff, also failed to bring an authenticity to the film’s characters. As the two lead actors, Paul and Divoff should have created a diverse cowboy hero and alien anti-hero respectively. But the two were miscast in their respective roles, as they both didn’t connect, much less seem to care about, their parts. Both actors had several unintentional comical lines, but overall, neither brought believability to their characters. They both seemed to have read the script only once, and just spit out their lines without thinking about how they could make they seem natural and real.
While Irvin started his career working as Brian De Palma’s assistant on ‘Dressed to Kill’ and Divoff is known for playing villains and appearing in sci-fi films, neither one’s previous experiences were able to help save ‘Oblivion.’ A boring premise combined with terrible acting and horrific special effects undoubtedly pushed this B-movie into oblivion.
Written by: Karen Benardello