In the opening prologue for the “Sands of Oblivion” there are essentially two back stories. The first is that Egyptian priests capture and imprison Imla Ra, a demon god of the underworld, so he would be unable to terrorize the Earth. They captured his spirit in an amulet and then buried it. As long it was buried Imla Ra was trapped. The second half of the prologue deals with the more interesting part of the ‘Sands of Oblivion’. Legendary director Cecil B. DeMille is filming his version of the ‘Ten Commandments’ (1923). Turns out that DeMille (‘the Simpsons’ Dan Castellaneta) bought some antiquities from tomb robbers to use in his film. In those items is the amulet. After his prop master is killed, a small boy finds the amulet and buries it in a time capsule. A quick leap in time shows DeMille destroying his set and hoping that the horrors they unleashed would stay buried. We only see a single horror but we are to assume things only got worse. The film jumps again to the present where the little boy, now an old man (George Kennedy), is digging for his time capsule in the deserts of Guadalupe with his Iraq War veteran grandson, Mark (Victor Webster). Guess what they find. Once again Imla Ra is unleashed on an unsuspecting Earth.
If only they would have stayed with DeMille and his ‘Ten Commandments’. The ‘Sands of Oblivion’ might have had a chance at something unique. The chance to have a ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ script with DeMille as the hero would have made for a much more interesting film. It would have been fascinating to look at one of the greatest movie directors of all time facing off against an evil spirit from ancient Egypt. Would he have been a coward? Would he have filmed the demon and encompassed it into the film? What would have happened to that footage? In ‘Sands of Oblivion’ they eventually reveal that DeMille was a Mason and he and the other Masons of the day captured Imla Ra and then imprisoned him. Sadly this isn’t even shown in the flashback movie reel footage.
The majority of ‘Sands of Oblivion’ takes place in the modern area. It is nothing more than an evil demon walking the Earth terrorizing an unsuspecting archeology team. The team is on assignment as they unearth DeMille’s old sets in the hopes to preserve them before they are destroyed by an inevitable flood. Alice Carter (Morena Baccarin) and Jesse Carter (Adam Baldwin) are an estranged married couple. Both are archeologists but since their separation Alice has become a teacher to pay the bills and is heading up the DeMille dig. Jesse shows up to help and there is some tension between them but besides a quick word about Jesse’s infidelity nothing is ever brought up again about their former relationship. Their banter and acting is awful. Much like this film their performances lack any real energy. Most actors can make the most of bad dialogue and story. Here, these two act as if they are on a second rate soap opera. Having seen them both on Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and numerous other projects the fault may not lay with them but in their direction and the script.
Now this is an unrated director’s cut and different from what aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. The difference had to be in the gore. There are numerous gory deaths of Alice’s students. One of these did make me laugh out loud with delight but that was even quickly silenced when the actors began to speak again. The special effects delivered a brief moment of creepiness. The rest looks fourth rate compared to any modern day video game.
Here are the few things I did enjoy about the ‘Sands of Oblivion’. Mark’s red neck gun runner friend named Buford (Charles Lister) delivered the best performance in the piece. Finally, audiences were shown an honest portrayal of a red neck that had nothing to do ‘Larry the Cable Guy’. Buford’s wife however, had the best line where she scolded Buford and told him that she was going to “slap the red” right off his neck. Yes, this was the diamond of the dialogue in this film. How can it not be when you have Adam Baldwin spouting lines like, “He hasn't been in your BRAIN! In your MIND!” On second thought, that might have been the diamond of the dialogue in the film.
‘Sands of Oblivion’ ends ‘Roger Rabbit’ style, with a cartoonish ridiculousness that buried it further in the nether regions of bad horror. I could, at first, get past the low budget special effects. It was, after all, a TV movie. It’s just when the story and dialogue are out shined by the design of the DVD cover I had to shake my head in disbelief. Who thought this was a good idea and more importantly how did it ever make it on to TV?