Sands Of Oblivion
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"If you enjoy those scary Saturday night movies on the Sci-fi channel then theirs no doubt in my mind that you'll agree that Sands of Oblivion is one of the better productions to date." -- HorrorReview.com
"The story is interesting and the mythology is surprisingly complicated, but never to complex for its own good." -- DVDVerdict.com
“ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE STORY IDEAS FOR ANY MOVIE THE SCI FI CHANNEL HAS EVER PRODUCED!” -- DREAD CENTRAL
“The entire production has this air of Ray Harryhausen without coming on too strong. Very enjoyable stuff. Fantasy at its best!" -- Wildside Cinema
Attention Hollywood: MORE DUNE BUGGIES! -- Deadpit.com --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This film has a Hallmark feel to it and does not take too much time to make CGI look real.
With all the negatives it is still fun to pass the time with if you like all the sci-fi quickie movies where evil pops up mostly in desert scenes.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Jeff Coatney and Kevin VanHook have written an intriguing, fresh, and "factually" based story. I certainly do not know how they came to incorporate what they did, but in telling their story they actually do a very good job of "getting it right." For example, the basic premises that "The Ten Commandments," a 1923 epic silent film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, was filmed along the California coast, that the vast set he created was "buried," and that an archaeologist would be "looking" to uncover it are all absolutely true. Demille's "The Ten Commandments" was filmed at Nipomo Dunes (now a National Natural Landmark), San Luis Obispo County, California (near Pismo Beach), which is now an archaeological site (officially called Ten Commandments Archeological Site). The film location was originally chosen because its immense sand dunes provided a superficial resemblance to the Egyptian desert. After the filming was complete, the massive sets--which included four 35-foot tall Pharaoh statues, 21 sphinxes, and gates reaching a height of 110 feet, which were built by a small army of 1,600 workers--were in fact dynamited and buried in the sand. Unlike the film, however, much of what is left of the old sets are very visible because the winds constantly shift the sands that covered the ruins, and because of ecological degradation--alleged to in "Sands of Oblivion."
The character of Im-La-Ra, the Left Hand of Set, appears from my research to be completely fictional. Set (also spelled/known as Seth, Sutekh or Seteh), unlike his portrayal on episodes of "Stargate SG-1," (where Danial called him a minor god of "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll), was considered to be immensely powerful, and was regarded as the chief god by many early Egyptians; moreover, Set carried the epithet, "His Majesty," shared only with Ra. But more importantly for "Sands of Oblivion," Set was originally the god of the desert, storms, and chaos; while in more recent eras he was, along with Typhon, seen as an evil force, storm deity and son of the Earth that attacked the main gods (a possible source for his downgrading on "Stargate SG-1"). Regardless, it is clear that the "avenging one," Im-La-Ra, is a manifestation (i.e., the "left hand") of Set, capable of using the powers of the desert and storms. [I should point out that if you go to IMBd, this character is casted as Anubis Creature. While I have yet to clearly hear the name Anubis used in the film, it would not be impossible to understand, since Anubis was a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. To a degree, the "god" in "Sands of Oblivion" does look more like Anubis than Set, as well.]
Like several other reviewers, I thought that the cast was wonderful. Dan Castellaneta (famous as the voice of Homer Simpson) was absolutely perfect as the lovable, but tyrannical Cecil B. DeMille, while Richard Kind (of "Mad About You" fame) gave a great cameo as Ira, DeMille's accountant. The real treat, of course, was the chance to see 83 year old George Kennedy again, playing the "pivotal" role of the old John Tevis. The character, John Tevis, was a boy on the set of "The Ten Commandment," and as such believes he has a better idea of where the "hidden" set is located; plus he can use a metal detector to search for a box that he buried on the set as a boy. It is also John's father, Cully Tevis (uncredited; Anthony Reynolds ?), who, we find out through the course of the film, was responsible for integrating real Egyptian artifacts and "magic" into the production of the set, and helping to lock inside the set the "god-creature" Im-La-Ra. And, it is John Tevis' son, Mark (played by Victor Webster) who "re-imprisons" Im-La-Ra (by turning him to glass). Mark, an Iraqi war veteran, also becomes part of a poorly played out "love triangle" with Alice Carter (played by Morena Baccarin, of "Fire Fly" and "Stargate SG-1") and her estranged, unfaithful husband Jesse Carter (played by fellow "Fire Fly" actor Adam Baldwin).
The plot of "Sands of Oblivion," then, is that Cecil B. DeMille has "destroyed" the set in a ploy to hide the fact that he was actually entrapping Im-La-Ra in one of the stages using an ancient curse. This fact is analogously presented in the scene where young John Tevis is burying a "treasure" box/time box. The key here is that the box contains the same Amulet of Ra used by the ancient Egyptians to originally entrap Im-La-Ra. Apparently during an illegal archaeological dig DeMille and John Tevis' grandfather opened the "tomb" that had entrapped Im-La-Ra. One of the "artifacts" they discovered and brought back was the Amulet of Ra, which, of course, they did not know was for. While burying his box, John uncovers a "prop," the Amulet of Ra (dropped by a set guard just before he was killed), which he adds to the box. Thus, as in the opening sequence of "Sands of Oblivion" when the narrator states that the amulet had to be buried to keep Im-La-Ra there, by burying the Amulet of Ra in his box John unknowingly (to himself or anyone else) repeated the "magic." The gist of this action is that this was really what kept Im-La-Ra prisoner after the set was "destroyed." Years later, when older John Tevis finds the box he had buried and opens it, the over-arching protection against Im-La-Ra is lifted, and Im-La-Ra tears off John's arm (which kills him). From this point, the movie becomes one of trying to undo that which has been done. Poetically, it is Mark Tevis that "inadvertently" buries the Amulet of Ra when he fires the LAW rocket to explode the WP grenades; ironically, in the end, they all still think that it will be the Free Masons building a new tomb that will hold Im-La-Ra "prisoner."
Another aspect I loved about "Sands of Oblivion" was the reference to and (inaccurately portrayed, but accurately described) use of "willy-petters" or white phosphorous (WP) hand grenades (which I have only seen referenced in one other movie, "We Were Soldiers Once" (which more graphically displays their destructiveness)). If you did not catch the point through the indirect dialogue, white phosphorous burns at an incredible intensity, and a box of them set off at the same time just might turn sand into glass just like a lightning strike can do. The use of WP to stop the "creature" was very inventive--even if the shot of the LAW missile showed it missing the box of WP by an easy 10 feet!
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And in a sand covered nutshell, that would describe "Sands of Oblivion". The actual plot is a little more complex, with the 1923 set for the Cecil B DeMille film being excavated before it washes away. George Kennedy stars as John Tevis, a dying grandfather to Jesse Carter, a young man who buried his treasure in the desert. Returning 80 years later to find his box, he and his grandson unleash the spirit of Ra and death! Add into the mix, an almost ex husband and wife, and an ex Iraq battlemate of Jesse, Buford, and you have a film that hits on every cylinder almost.
Cecil B DeMille, the talented eccentric director is central to the set up. What seems to be just a movie set turns out to be filled with authentic Egyptian artifacts and the throne room, a prison for the evil spirit that stalks the team of student archaeologists. The `beast' travels from hotel room to tomb, to storage area and threatens death. Dan Castellaneta portrays DeMille effectively, and gives the film a sense of mystery AND nostalgia.
In terms of characters, Buford is a joy and is perfect for the film. His storehouse of weaponry (some stored underneath teddy bears), and redneckish behaviour is delightful. Too bad he didn't have more lines, or at least flip flops to wear while he dug through his garage.
One of the best things about the film is that the factual evidence supports the tombs' existence. Today, the sand dunes where the film was made in 1923 is littered with debris from the dynamited set. Unfortunately, the spirit of death does not walk here. Just tourists!
As a film-maker and writer, Kevin Vanhook produces a thrilling film that runs just 30 seconds too long! Sure, the ex-soldier may be testosterone filled, but cut the last scene!
Could there be a sequel? Let's hope not. Leave a good film alone.
This movie is frankly terrible beyond words. On the other hand, it's chock full of cliches and Hollywood mythology and looks like it was excellent fun to make. This might be the sort of bad little gem that actors put on at parties to laugh over; it looks like something deliberately done for schlock effect.
I kind of like it. I know! It sucks. But... I still sort of like it anyways.
Oh, wow. There's a scene in Sands of Oblivion that actually made me gasp. There's a decapitation scene, with the usual tremendously bad special effects you expect in any Sci-FI Channel Original Movie (and, for that matter, any movie written by Kevin Van Hook). Business as usual. Until the camera focuses for a few seconds on the decapitated head. I actually said out loud (in an empty house), "my god, am I really seeing that?" SO I hit rewind and watched it again, and I really was seeing it. The head had Xs for eyes, just like in Looney Tunes. I couldn't help it--I burst out laughing. It does me good to know that sometimes, the people making these movies take them about as seriously as the people who will ultimately end up watching them.
Plot: Cecil B. DeMille's filming of The Ten Commandments is plagued by problems caused by bootleg Egyptian artifacts, one of which houses a nasty spirit. After the filming is over, the crew bury the set in the desert. Eighty years later, an archaeological crew uncover the set and release the beast, which starts killing them off while looking for an Eye of Horus necklace that can protect against it.
For the first half of the movie, aside from an opening scene set in 1923 with a painfully bad depiction of Cecil B. DeMille, it actually manages to be almost not-stupid. Which for any script written by Kevin Van Hook is a giant step forward. That, however, makes the second half of the film, which devolves into the usual idiocy one expects from a Kevin Van Hook joint, all the more disappointing. The first half has some half-decent acting and does its best to build suspense, but then we get right down into the effects-heavy unnecessary-plot-twists kind of thing that Van Hook does so well (or so badly, depending on your point of view). And, well, there you go, another Sci-FI Channel Original Movie that's a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie for a reason. **