DVD Review: Oblivion

Cowboys and Aliens might be this summer’s mega-budget flick, but this isn’t the first time a movie mixed the genres. Way back in 1994, Charles Band and Full Moon saw the possibilities of not merely mingling cowboys and aliens, but making alien cowboys in Oblivion. Instead of teaming up Indiana Jones and James Bond, Band united Catwoman and Mr. Sulu. That’s an amazing meeting of star power for plenty of geeks. For those who don’t want to go through the effort of the cineplex, but want the aliens and cowboys experience, the re-issue DVD will make you quick draw your remote.

The frontier town of Oblivion sits on a distant planet. The dirt streets feature modern touches like overhead fans to keep it a little cool. The hot spot is Miss Kitty’s Bar run by Julie Newmar. The second busiest man in town is the huge undertaker (Twin Peaks‘ Carel Struycken). The busiest is the sheriff (Mike Genovese). He’s got his gun full of trouble when Red-Eye (Andrew Divoff) arrives with a purpose. The reptile outlaw teams up with Lash (Musetta Vander) and Bork (Irwin Keyes) to establish a new law. The sheriff’s son (Richard Joseph Paul) arrives for the funeral. Everyone wants him to take over his dad’s job including the cute shopkeeper (Jackie Swanson). The son’s empathy power makes him feel extra pain when he takes up a gun. Red-Eye still views the kid as a threat to his big plans for Oblivion. Is the kid going to just get his ass beaten or will he take on his daddy’s star and retake the lawless town?

While Oblivion was made for the straight to video market, it has a higher production value than most SyFy Original movies. Red-Eye’s mask looks good and lizardy. George Takei (Star Trek‘s Mr. Sulu) is comical as the town lush. Newmar gets to slink around in more catty attire. There’s a choice cameo form Isaac Hayes (Chef on South Park). The script was written by Peter David. He was one of the major forces in making superhero comic-book cool again with his work at Marvel. A lot of the dialogue feels like it should be delivered in word balloons. The action plays up the cowboy and alien interaction so the film melds into Gunsmoke meets Lost In Space. Oblivion proves you don’t have to have NASA’s budget to mix the cowpokes with UFOs.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. Seeing how the movie was made for the VHS market, there’s no need to rant about how this should have been presented in a letterboxed format. This is how you would have seen Oblivion after renting it from the Video Bar. The transfer appears to be from a video master. It looks fine. Less resolution makes the low budget special effects shine better. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono 2.0. They’re not out to dazzle your ears.

Oblivion is what happens when the cowboys are aliens. The wild west tale on a distant planet holds up in a SyFy Original Movie sort of way. Where else but a distant planet would you expect to enjoy the cast of Star Trek, Batman and Truck Turner?

Shout! Factory presents Oblivion. Directed by Sam Irvin. Starring: Richard Joseph Paul, Isaac Hayes, George Takei and Julie Newmar. Written by: Peter David. Running time: 94 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: July 5, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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