Outland (1981)

Outland (1981)

Taglines: On Jupiter’s moon something deadly is happening.

Marshal W.T. O’Niel is assigned to a mining colony on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. During his tenure miners are dying – usually violently. When the marshal investigates he discovers the one thing all the deaths have in common is a lethal amphetamine-type drug, which allows the miners to work continuously for days at a time until they become “burned out” and expire. O’Niel follows the trail of the dealers, which leads to the man overseeing the colony. Now O’Niel must watch his back at every turn, as those who seek to protect their income begin targeting him…

Outland is a 1981 British science fiction thriller film written and directed by Peter Hyams. The film stars Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, and Frances Sternhagen. Set on Jupiter’s moon Io, it has been described as a space Western, and bears thematic resemblances to the 1952 film High Noon.

About the Story (1981)

In the future, Federal Marshal William O’Niel (Sean Connery) is assigned to a tour of duty at the titanium ore mining outpost Con-Am 27, operated by the company Conglomerates Amalgamated on the Jovian moon of Io. Conditions on Io are difficult: gravity is 1/6 that of Earth’s with no breathable atmosphere, spacesuits are cumbersome and miners carry their own air supply. Shifts are long but significant bonuses are paid. The general manager, Mark Sheppard (Peter Boyle), boasts that productivity has broken all records since he took over.

O’Niel’s wife Carol (Kika Markham) feels she cannot raise their son Paul on Io, fleeing with the child to the Jupiter space station to await a shuttle back to Earth. Later, a miner named Tarlow (John Ratzenberger) suffers an attack of stimulant psychosis: he sees spiders and rips open his spacesuit, resulting in his death by explosive decompression. Cane, another miner, enters an elevator without his spacesuit during another psychotic episode and dies from decompression. With the reluctant assistance of Dr. Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen), O’Niel investigates the deaths.

Another incident involves a worker, Sagan, who takes a prostitute hostage and threatens to kill her with a knife. O’Niel attempts to calm the man while Montone (James B. Sikking), his sergeant, sneaks in via the air duct and kills Sagan with a shotgun. O’Niel and Lazarus discover that Sagan had traces of a powerful amphetamine-type drug in his bloodstream, which would allow the miners to work continuously for days at a time, until they “burn out” and turn psychotic after approximately ten months of use. O’Niel uncovers a drug distribution ring run by a corrupt Sheppard and sanctioned by Montone.

Using surveillance cameras, O’Niel finds and captures one of Sheppard’s dealers, Nicholas Spota but before Spota can be questioned, he is murdered; Montone is then found garrotted. O’Niel finds the latest shipment of drugs in a meat locker that was shipped from the space station but is then attacked by another dealer, Russell Yario. O’Niel knocks him out, then destroys the shipment of drugs. When Sheppard finds out, he threatens O’Niel and contacts his drug distributor, asking him to send in professional hitmen. O’Niel is ready, though, having been monitoring Sheppard’s communications.

Outland Movie Poster (1981)

Outland (1981)

Directed by: Peter Hyams
Starring: Sean Connery, Frances Sternhagen, Peter Boyle, James Sikking, Kika Markham, John Ratzenberger, Clarke Peters, Nicholas Barnes
Screenplay by: Peter Hyams
Production Design by: Philip Harrison
Cinematography by: Stephen Goldblatt
Film Editing by: Stuart Baird
Costume Design by: John Mollo
Set Decoration by: Stuart Rose
Art Direction by: Malcolm Middleton
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: May 22, 1981