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Omega Doom
Tonight's Feature Presentation

OMEGA DOOM (1996)

Starring: Rutger Hauer, Shannon Whirry, Anna Katarina, Norbert Weisser, Tina Cote, Jill Pierce

Written By: Albert Pyun, Ed Naha Directed By: Albert Pyun

The Short Version

You’d think a post-apocalypse ruled by robots would be at least a little more exciting.

There’s one action sequence; it involves shadow boxing.

The music’s got a halfway decent coffee house groove to it.

You’ll need coffee to make it all the way through.

The only reason to watch Omega Doom to the end is if you really, really dig Rutger Hauer.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEETOS.

Not for snack value, but rather because the crinkling of the bag and the sound that echoes in your head while you chew them might help keep you awake.


Pairs Well With...

CUP OF FLAMING DEATH.

My own personal creation; I hope you like it.  4 shots of Espresso poured over a half shot each of Absinthe and Black Sambuca.  Meant to be finished quickly.  You’ll need the Espresso for this movie.

“If I were you, I’d keep movin’ on.  Skip this town.”


If there’s any one word that best describes how I feel after watching Omega Doom, that word is “numb.”  Some movies hit you so hard that you want to know where the hell the bus that hit you came from.  This movie, though, makes me want to know where the hell the anesthesiologist came from.

Officially, Omega Doom has a runtime of 84 minutes.  Knock off the highly stretched end credits, and it’s really more like 74.  Apply Relativity, and it feels like somewhere around six and a half weeks.

Ladies and gentlemen, rarely has the post-apocalypse been this boring, and I do not use that term lightly.  If for whatever reason (probably the fact that you’re a Rutger Hauer fan) you decide to give Omega Doom a try and shut it off from sheer boredom after you realize that first three hours took only fifteen minutes of real time, I understand.  If you decide to shut it off after half an hour of real time, I’m amazed that you’re still awake enough to reach for the remote.

Yes, folks, it really is that bad.

Of course, if you’ve ever heard of Albert Pyun, the guy who wrote and directed this sedative, you knew that already.  If you haven’t heard of Albert Pyun, there’s still time to save yourself.  Just remember to look for his name on the box and if you ever see it again from now on, you just turn around and walk away.  Pyun, you see, has a certain reputation.  Specifically, he has a reputation for making steaming piles of crap.  But that’s not really a fair assessment in the case of Omega Doom.  See, a steaming pile of crap tends to stir some sort of visceral response, like when I went to see Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses on the day it opened and the entire audience booed at the end.  Omega Doom stirs… nothing.  At all.

Of course, if you read the liner notes, Pyun thinks he’s in the art house exploring all kinds of high concepts.  Indeed, if there’s any single place I can think of that might serve as an appropriate screening room for this movie, it’s some back alley basement beatnik coffee house in some university town somewhere.  The audience is already high on coffee, so they can stay awake, and there’s bound to be at least one contrarian in the crowd determined to defend the movie’s philosophical brilliance just because everyone else is asking what the hell they just wasted an hour and change of their lives on that crap for.  It’s a working theory, anyway.

So, what’s Pyun’s boring world look like?  The liner notes proudly proclaim that Omega Doom was filmed entirely in the city of Bratislava, Slovakia, which I am sure is a lovely place.  However, looking at the movie, the reality of things seems more like Omega Doom was filmed entirely inside of a three hundred foot radius within Bratislava, and I’m being generous here.  There’s one small courtyard, a claustrophobic room, two slightly less claustrophobic ones, and a corner of a wrecked warehouse, and that’s it.  (This could easily have been a small stage play, save that live theatre tends to be a little more engaging.) 

And what do we do in this few hundred feet of dilapidation?  The idea is that humans and robots – which appear exactly like humans, except that their joints are noisy – went to war, and in the end, the whole planet got nuked, and the robots won.  But now the robots have fragmented and split up into street gangs determined to wipe each other out.  There’s also a rumor that there are some humans left, and that they’re going to rise up and kill all of the robots.  The robots, despite having apparent full control of the planet, superior strength, and so on, are scared silly of this.

Oh, but wait, there’s more.

Despite an opening scene that shows a pile of bodies of armed soldiers – note the key word “armed” – which is undoubtedly representative of things all over, in this world, after the war is over, all of the guns are gone.  And the robots are afraid that they’ll never beat the humans – humans they’ve never seen and can’t be sure really exist – unless they can find some hidden caches of guns buried at various points around the world.  Treasure, they call it.  Because, y’know, the ass kicking electrified blades they toss around that instantly blow stuff to smithereens aren’t as good as some rusty guns would be.  Guns that magically disappeared from the planet after the war despite the fact that everyone on both sides was carrying a whole lot of them.

Take the advice of one of the characters here.  “Don’t confuse me with logic.”

As we start our story, two feuding factions of robots have taken over the ruin of a street.  They’ve decimated their numbers so that each side has only three or four members each, for budgetary purposes.  Being at pretty even strength, there’s an uneasy truce while each side waits for the other to make a move.  Only the town saloon serves as neutral ground.  If this sounds to you like the setting for a few Westerns which in turn borrowed from certain Akira Kurosawa plots, congratulations.  Now don’t go thinking too much and start wondering why robots need a saloon; next you’ll be asking why they like to drink water so much, too.  But anyway.  A stranger strolls into town, this being Our Hero, Omega Doom (Rutger Hauer), though he doesn’t tell anyone else his name.  He decides to play both sides against the other for the benefit of the only remaining innocents and… oh, you get the idea.

On one side of the street, there are the slick, black-pleather-and-shades wearing high-end military models.  You’ll want to say that they’re ripping off the Matrix look, but surprise; this movie was made three years before that.  On the other, there are the more rough and tumble soldier models, “rough and tumble” being defined by the fact that their clothes don’t match.  And for the first thirty minutes, all they do is stand there.  Oh, sure, one guy – the local bully, Marko (Jahi Zuri) – blusters some, but it’s the blustering of a six year old kid in an adult’s body, usually while he’s standing still.  “Look at me!  I’m a bully!  I like to hurt others!  Whatcha gonna do about it?  Hey, look at me!  Why aren’t you looking at me?”  On the one hand, that’s really annoying, but the numbing effect of everyone else just standing there is so great that it may be the only pulse Omega Doom has for the first thirty minutes.

Then, a showdown.  This should be exciting, right?  After all that standing around speaking in monotone voices when we bother speaking at all, things are going to get good now, right?  Nope.  One shot, one kill, no fight.  And then we’re back to standing and staring again.

You think I’m exaggerating.  I’m not.

Eventually, people walk a little more, but they might as well not have bothered.  What’s supposed to be intrigue is delivered with all the excitement of someone asking the time at a bus station.  A couple characters bite the dust off camera because apparently they’re paid by the hour and the budget was running dry.  After what seems like an eternity, there’s a climactic battle that lasts more than five seconds, but it is – I kid you not – done entirely in shadow, one suspects because Pyun couldn’t be bothered to hire stunt doubles who even remotely resembled the actors involved in the fight.

According to Pyun’s liner notes, by the end of the movie, all of the characters realize that they are, in fact, “truly alive.”  I call BS here, because no one gets out of having to endure this movie at any level above “heavy sedation.”  If this is Pyun’s idea of “alive”… let’s just all agree never to party at his house, huh?

To be fair to the cast, I’m sure they did what they could here in a movie that’s essentially a paycheck.  Sure, they look like they’re sleepwalking most of the time, but I suspect Directorial choice here.  Rutger Hauer, of course, is better than this movie deserves, and Hauer phoning it in on his worst day is still better than a lot of people’s best effort.  That said, if you’re not already a fan of his, there’s no reason to watch this movie, and even if you are a fan, you’re not going to put this as one of his top hundred roles.  Shannon Whirry (whose early career was in the Skinamax era, and no, you’ll get none of that here) gets second billing, but that’s for name recognition, not screen time.  That said, she does what she can with nothing.  The same goes for Norbert Weisser as an oft-disembodied head and Anna Katarina as the bartender.  Everyone deserves better here.

However, amidst all of this drudgery, my compliments must go out to Anthony Riparetti, the man responsible for the music.  Overall, it’s no one’s idea of an action soundtrack, but I think we’ve already established that Omega Doom is no one’s idea of an action movie.  Rather, Riparetti’s music sits quietly in the background, sounding very much like the groove you’ve expect to have in a dimly lit Starbucks.  I especially like the classical guitar.

Yes, folks.  That’s the best part about the movie, other than the fact that it ends.

Bottom line, you only bother trying to watch Omega Doom if you’re a Rutger Hauer fan, and if you fall asleep, it’s not your fault.  Call it the 84 minute eyelid gauntlet.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, September, 2011

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