Outland (1981)

Outland (1981), written and directed by Peter Hyams.

Sean Connery is the new Marshal of a company mining town on Io. After two weeks his wife takes the kid and leaves, tired of all these frontier factory outposts. He digs in and works harder, investigating some mysterious suicides. The workers have a new amphetamine that drives them crazy. The company secretly promotes it because of improved productivity. Too bad about the increasing body count. The Marshal is not going to look the other way. He has no help apart from the traditionally crusty outpost MD: Frances Sternhagen, pretty funny.


Marshal: Are you Dr. Lazarus?

Lazarus: Yes. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. That's a doctor joke.

Marshal: I'd like a report of all the incidents in the last six months. I'd like it soon, or I might just kick your nasty ass all over this room. That's a marshal joke.

It's a combination of western and urban drug-crime story in space. The dark industrial design is very fine, showing the overwhelming influence of Alien (1979) during those years. We even have a Jerry Goldsmith score with some familiar musical cues. Great chase scene.

Peter Boyle no longer seems that villainous, no more than any other cog in the machine. He's an employee doing what's expected.

The two hit men just seem to wander around the vast facility without any plan. Note that Io has artificial gravity and zero-G chambers, but the weapons of choice are still shotguns. In SF films space-helmet lighting is arranged so we can see the faces from outside.

Io is the innermost large moon of Jupiter, not the third. I don't think the effects of zero-atmosphere decompression are quite as bloodily spectacular as shown.

The region 1 DVDs get poor reviews. The thumbnails are from an anamorphic region 2 PAL disc. Its quality is only fair: deep space needs deep black levels and we don't have them here.

Later: a Blu-ray appeared.