I was a big fan of Charles Band‘s direct-to-video studio Full Moon Entertainment [aka Full Moon Features] back in the early ’90s. I loved his Puppet Master [1989-2012] and Demonic Toys [1992-2010] franchises, as well as the stand-alone films Dollman (1991) and Bad Channels (1992). I really loved the VideoZone segments that played at the end of the videos and were often hosted by lovely actress Charlie Spradling. Other films from Charles Band‘s B-movie studio that I enjoyed include the Subspecies (1991-98) and Trancers (1985-2002) franchises, Crash and Burn (1990), and Robot Wars (1993).
Two of Full Moon‘s films that I overlooked are Oblivion (1994) and its sequel Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996). I didn’t think, then, that I’d be interested in those movies’ mix of science fiction and western elements. I didn’t even care to see the overblown Cowboys & Aliens in 2011. However, the other day, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel called Shanahan – The Bad Girl Channel which showcases clips of bad girls from various movies, TV shows, etc. I found clips of lovely South African actress Musetta Vander as the seductive, leather-clad outlaw Lash from the Oblivion movies. I couldn’t believe I overlooked her! So, I quickly remedied the situation by ordering both DVDs from Amazon Prime and, two days later, I watched a “Musetta-Vander-as-Lash-in-the-Oblivion-movies” double feature. Bad girls always win me over, and Vander is a good bad girl in these movies!
Oblivion and Backlash: Oblivion 2 are wonderfully entertaining B-movies that take a fistful of western clichés and mix them with a few sci-fi clichés more. See what I did there? I’ll do it again, too. The retro futuristic fun is delivered by a colorful cast of characters played (mostly) with over-the-top gusto by more than a few familiar faces. So, let’s meet the good, the bad and the beautiful. I told you I’d do it again!
First, the good …
Richard Joseph Paul [Knight Rider 2010 (1994), Vampirella (1996)] plays Zach Stone, the prospecting son of Marshal Stone (Mike Genovese) and Oblivion‘s reluctant hero. He is an empath and avoids violence so he doesn’t have to feel others’ pain. Jimmie F Skaggs plays Buteo, a native who becomes Zach’s Tonto-esque sidekick after Zach saves his life. He offers sage advice. George Takei [Sulu in the original Star Trek series (1966-69) and movies (1979-1991), "Oh my!"] plays Doc Valentine, a drunk. Dentistry, haircuts, inventions, robotics, etc, are his skills. Carel Struycken [Lurch in The Addams Family movies (1991-98)] plays Gaunt, the eerie caretaker whom the town fears because he’s always around when people die. In Backlash: Oblivion 2, Maxwell Caulfield [Rex Manning in Empire Records (1995)] plays Sweeney, a notorious but charming (and dapper) bounty hunter.
Next, the bad …
Andrew Divoff [the evil Djinn in the first two Wishmaster films (1997-99)] plays villain Redeye, a reptilian outlaw who can regenerate limbs. In Backlash: Oblivion 2, Divoff plays warlord Jagger, Redeye’s brother. Irwin Keyes plays Bork, Redeye’s dimwitted hentchman. Musetta Vander, obviously, plays Lash, the leather-clad seductress who wields an electronic bull whip. However, more on Vander later.
Finally, the beautiful (all good) …
Jackie Swanson [Kelly Gaines-Boyd, Woody's girfriend/wife, in Cheers (1989-93)] plays Mattie Chase, owner of the general store and Zach’s love interest. Meg Foster plays Stell Barr, Oblivion’s tough-as-nails cyborg deputy whose movement’s are accented with the sound of hydraulics. Foster‘s pale, icy blue eyes are hypnotizing. You can’t look away. Julie Newmar plays Miss Kitty, owner of the local saloon and cathouse. The joke is that Newmar played Catwoman in the first two seasons of the campy 60s TV series Batman (with Adam West and Burt Ward). Lash is beautiful, too; but, she’s a bad girl.
Now, Oblivion (1994) …
“In the Year 3031… It’s Cowboys and Aliens.”
Reptilian-like alien Redeye arrives on a planet light-years from Earth and heads toward Oblivion, a frontier town that resembles the American Old West. He challenges Marshal Stone to a duel outside of Miss Kitty’s saloon. Redeye kills the human Marshal and short-circuits his cyborg deputy Stell Barr in a plan to take over the troubled town with bad girl Lash and mine its hidden derconium, the most valuable mineral in the galaxy. The Marshal’s long-lost son Zack, who left Oblivion to avoid following in his father’s footsteps as a lawman, and his native friend Buteo return for the funeral, but, are soon forced to take a stand against Redeye and his gang. Zack and Buteo eventually team up with Stell and Gaunt to rescue Mattie who was kidnapped by Lash for Redeye. They confront Redeye in the Badlands where he meets his demise against two giant scorpions. Lash, however, escapes to be bad another day.
Watch the trailer here …
Oblivion is a very satisfying B-movie that offers thrills, laughs and some awesome stop-motion monsters! The giant scorpions are courtesy of David Allen Productions. Stop-motion animator David Allen provided the creatures for great B-movies like Equinox (1970), When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), Flesh Gordon (1974), The Crater Lake Monster (1977), Caveman (1981), and many others. He also provided stop-motion effects for several other Full Moon features, like the Subspecies films, Doctor Mordrid (1992), and more. I grew up adoring the master stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen‘s movies, but, David Allen‘s were the next best. Oh, and George Takei’s Star Trek references [some of which you can hear in the trailer] are hysterical. Anyway …
Sexy outlaw Lash was the catalyst for this post, and Musetta Vander did not disappoint! Vander, with her jet black bangs and killer looks, resembles 50s pin-up model Bettie Page [see HBO's biopic The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) for reference] or 60s exploitation starlet Tura Satana [circa Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (1965)]; and, she plays villainous Lash as a Catwoman-esque dominatrix who chews up every scene she’s in with wicked glee, then spits it back in your face, making you want more. Vander‘s panache as Lash even makes Julie Newmar hiss. Well, she hisses at Redeye, but, whatever. Here, now [before I move on to Backlash: Oblivion 2], are my favorite Lash moments from Oblivion (1994) …
(1) Marshal Stone steps outside Miss Kitty’s to face Redeye. An elegantly-dressed woman, sitting at the bar, turns. She is Lash. She raises one eyebrow. After Redeye kills the Marshal, Lash steps outside. “Not so fast, Half-breed!” she snarls at Stell Barr, whipping her as she reaches for her gun. Lash steps into the middle of the street. “Boys!” she calls, snapping her finger. Spanner (Jeff Moldovan) and Wormhole (Frank Roman) tear her dress away revealing her leather outfit; and, she tosses her hat to Bork, letting her black hair fall. “Much better,” she grins, snapping her whip around her waist.
(2) After barking orders in his hotel room, Redeye dismisses the gang so he and Lash can be alone. He kisses her neck as they move across the floor, then he spins her around quickly. “Aren’t you going to ask me to be gentle?” he wonders. “You’ve got to be kidding!” she retorts, laughing as he throws her on the bed.
Watch these first two scenes above strung together here.
(3) Redeye, Lash, Bork and Spanner trash Mattie’s general store, forcing her to draw a gun. They exit. “He likes you, Mattie,” Lash, with a checkered scarf draped around her, says, as she walks out, stopping. “Get out,” Mattie sobs. “And you know what?” Lash continues, ignoring her. “I like you, too. We could have a great time together,” she adds, then blows on the barrel of the gun Mattie has aimed at her. “Instead, all you’ve got is a totally thrashed store,” she continues, turning her back to Mattie. “Now, if you ask me,” she adds, as she removes the scarf. “You might want to do some thinking about what you want out of life,” she grins, tossing the scarf to Mattie, and winks.
(4) Spanner grabs Lash as she exits the store. “I’m ten time the man that lizard could ever be,” he says, then, attempts to kiss her, but, she pushes him away. “Prove it,” she demands. He tells her that he found the stash of derconium for Redeye. She chuckles. “You’ve got to do more than jump claims before you can jump me, Spanner,” she quips. “Besides, a real man would’ve kept it for himself instead of turning it over to Redeye. But, then you wouldn’t know anything about that. Now, would you?” she grins, then flicks his hat.
Watch the scene above and Lash whipping Buteo strung together here.
(5) Redeye confronts Zack at his father’s funeral. “So, you’re the Marshall’s boy? I’m the Marshal’s killer. What are you gonna do about it?” he says. Lash laughs, and Stell draws her gun, but Lash quickly extends her hand, touching her finger to Stell’s nose. Stell begins to weaken, noticing a derconium ring on Lash’s finger. “Who says diamond’s are a girl’s best friend?” she quips, then gently taps Stell’s chin as Stell drops back in her seat. “Robo-bitch,” Lash grins, raising her eyebrow.
(6) After Zach draws a gun and chases Redeye out of town, Mattie returns to her store. Lash grabs her from behind, and chuckles. “We couldn’t bear to leave you behind, Princess,” she says, dipping her. “We like you too much,” she adds, then licks the side of her face. “Delicious!” she declares, then drags Mattie away.
Watch the scene above and Lash’s final scenes strung together here.
Next, Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996) …
“It’s High Noon at the End of the Universe…”
Notoriously deadly bounty hunter Sweeney arrives in Oblivion to apprehend a cunning female outlaw. Zack, Oblivion’s new marshal, hands over Lash. However, Miss Kitty is the outlaw that Sweeney is after. She challenges Sweeney to catch her based on the code of the League of Bounty Hunters. Meanwhile, Lash has acquired a derconium mine at the Native Wall and Redeye’s warlord brother Jagger, who also arrives on Oblivion, wants to make a deal with her for rights to the valuable mineral. Sweeney, accompanied by Zach, track Miss Kitty to the Native Wall and inadvertently awakens an enormous tortoise buried in the rock. The gigantic monster goes after Lash, Jagger and Bork; while Zack and Sweeney escape, believing that Miss Kitty has perished.
Watch the trailer here …
Backlash: Oblivion 2 is a very satisfying B-movie, too, that offers more thrills, more laughs, more Lash, and another monster courtesy of David Allen Productions. The giant tortoise, which is literally as big as a mountain, is not brought to life with stop-motion, but, is very cool regardless. I think this movie is as good as the first, despite many reviews that say otherwise. Maxwell Caulfield as Sweeney is an excellent addition to the ensemble cast. He plays debonair well. My favorite Sweeney lines: “I like a man after my own heart. Well, actually, not always. Once there was a man after my own heart, and I had to strangle him with his own intestines.”
Oblivion 2 plays out more like an extended episode of a TV series than a movie, but, it works. I have to assume that a third film was planned because two interesting plot lines are hinted at, but, not taken any further. First, Miss Kitty, when challenging Sweeney, says: “Now the people of this town have been real good to me. And the young man I am proud to call my s…” she says, stopping herself. “My sincere friend,” she adds, glancing at Zach, adoringly. Zack never knew who his mother was, and this issue needs to be resolved! Second, see (7) below. So here, now, are my favorite Lash moments from Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996) …
(1) Two outlaws walk into the Last Stop Cantina on the edge of the Badlands. One lights up a cigarello against the warning of Buster (Isaac Hayes). A gunshot rings out, and outlaw drops, revealing Lash, the new owner, holding the smoking gun. “Those things’ll kill ya,” she quips, then returns to her poker game.
(2) Lash loses a poker wager with Crowley (Jeff Weston) for a derconium mine, and, must sleep with him. In her room, Crowley shows Lash the map to the mine which he tattooed on his junk. “Isn’t that a little … difficult to read?” she quips. “Nothin’ a little romance couldn’t enlarge,” he tells her. “Oh, aren’t you clever?” she retorts, as she removes her jacket, then thrusts a blade into his belly, letting his body drop on her bed. “Bork!” she calls, and he appears from under her bed. She flips Crowley’s body over. “I’d like you to photocopy …” she demands, pointing down at Crowley’s junk, “… this.”
Watch these first two scenes above strung together here.
(3) Lash and Bork go to the derconium mine, followed by Zack, Buteo and Sweeney. Lash gets trapped inside, and Sweeney frees her while Zack and Buteo deal with Bork. “You’ve got me all wrong, Sweeney. This whole thing is terribly shocking,” she smirks, as her electrified whip, in his hands, shocks him. “Now how did that get on?” she quips, with glee.
Watch the full scene above here.
(4) Zack throws Lash in jail. “I didn’t do it – I’m innocent!” she declares. “Didn’t do what, Lash?” Zack retorts. “Name it,” she demands. She denies all his charges. “Try espionage and sabotage,” Sweeney adds. “Huh?” she wonders, miffed. “Now, wait a minute. Those I really didn’t do,” she tells him. “You didn’t commit those crimes?” he asks. “I can’t even spell those crimes for Heaven’s sake,” she replies.
(5) Lash lies on her back in her jail cell, pulling petals from a flower: “I hate him. I really hate him. I really really hate him. I hate his guts. I’d like to… squeeze his head until his brain oozed out through his nostrils.”
(6) Zack informs Sweeney that he can’t have Lash. “You don’t like it – I’m afraid we can step outside and settle this like men,” he tells him, boldy. “Oh. Wonderful,” Lash grins, with anticipation.
(7) Zack releases Lash into Jagger’s custody after Miss Kitty reveals herself to Sweeney. Lash goes on an angry tirade. “I just want you to know that I’m not going to forget any of this. And when the time comes to settle the score between you and me – I promise you …” she says, walking seductively toward him, “… it’s going to be pretty… damned… personal,” she grins, then kisses him passionately. She wipes her mouth, and spits. “Have a nice day!” she adds, grabs her whip and walks out with Jagger.
(8) Lash takes Jagger back to her room. “I was going to kill you after you showed me the mine,” Jagger tells her, as Lash begins to tease him. “And, I was going to kill after I got the money,” she admits, seductively, and laughs. Then, she pulls him down onto her bed, and wraps her legs around him.
Watch these last two scenes above in their entirety here.
Now, about that lovely actress who plays bad girl Lash so wonderfully …
Musetta Vander was born Musetta van der Merwe in 1963 in South Africa. She began her career in the U.S. by appearing in more than 20 music videos by artists such as Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Elton John, Chris Isaak and Amy Grant. Her other roles include: Sindel, evil Emperor Shao Kahn’s wife, in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997); a She-Mantis in the “Teacher’s Pet” episode (1997) of The WB/UPN‘s Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Munitia, evil Dr. Loveless’ assistant, in Barry Sonnenfeld‘s very dumb Wild Wild West (1999) [I loved the original TV series!]; a seductive siren in the Coen Brothers‘ critically-acclaimed O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Teodora van Sloan, a sultry vampire, in Transylmania (2009); and more. Vander is also “certified as a Master of Medical Qigong Therapy and Medical Qigong Oncology.” I think qigong is like Chinese yoga.
But, I’ll always remember Musetta Vander as bad girl Lash! Thanks, Full Moon Entertainment!
Did you know that Charles Band‘s son is Alex Band of the rock band The Calling? Alex Band‘s band scored hits with songs like “Wherever You Will Go“ (2001) and “Our Lives“ (2004), and Band provided the vocals for Santana‘s top 10 hit “Why Don’t You & I“ (2003). Oh, and in case you didn’t get it – the title of this post is a play on the title of the Stevie Nicks and Don Henley duet “Leather and Lace” (1981). Maybe you’re too young, but, that song was the shit when I was in 10th grade.