Outland (1981)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Sci-Fi  |  22 May 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 20,537 users  
Reviews: 129 user | 71 critic

In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Sheppard
Dr. Lazarus
Sgt. Montone (as James B. Sikking)
Carol O'Niel
Nicholas Barnes ...
Paul O'Niel
Manning Redwood ...
Pat Starr ...
Flo Spector
Hal Galili ...
Stuart Milligan ...


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... Written by Derek O'Cain

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


On Jupiter's moon he's the only law. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 May 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atmósfera cero  »

Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(MegaSound encoding) (35 mm prints)| (MegaSound encoding) (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of the few films to be released theatrically with the "Megasound" sound system format. Megasound was a movie theater sound system created by Warner Bros in the early 1980s. It was used to enhance the premiere engagements of a handful of Warner features. Theaters equipped for Megasound had additional speakers mounted on the left, right and rear walls of the auditorium. Selected soundtrack events with lots of low-frequency content (thuds, crashes, explosions, etc) were directed to these speakers at very high volume, creating a visceral effect intended to thrill the audience. See more »


Bodies do not explode when exposed to a vacuum (except in cases of explosive decompression, which did not occur in this film). See more »


Lazarus: You know, you haven't your medical all-star here. Company doctors are like ship's doctors. Most are just one shuttle flight ahead of a malpractice suit.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, the word "Principal" is misspelled. See more »


Referenced in An Interview with John Ottman (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

9 July 2006 | by (Maryland) – See all my reviews

What an entertaining movie this is. The plot is believable; the acting, from the minor characters right up to and including the leads, is excellent; the dialogue is natural and realistic (and intelligible); and the special effects have aged well and are quite good, as good as today's CGI stuff. But unlike today's sf movies, it's not the f/x that play the central role here but rather plot, character, and acting.

I can understand some of the comments about some of the movie's science, particularly in the way earth gravity suddenly appears inside buildings and the way people's cranial cavities literally expand like balloons when exposed to near zero pressure, but none of that is central. I'm pleased when I see real science in movies (maybe surprised would be a better term), but if I want science I can read a textbook. Anyway, this shortfall is more than made up for by having a doctor in the movie named Lazarus - over scientific accuracy I'll take a little humor. Or good dialogue, such as when O'Neil, having just chased a perp through half the installation, finally corners him in a kitchen, gets the drop on him, and leveling his shotgun at his desperate kitchen knife-wielding opponent says to him, 'Think it over'.

Comparisons have been made to other movies like High Noon and sf classics like Alien and 2001. I'll leave 2001 go at least until I can figure out how that giant fetus got out there in outer space, but as to Alien, well, in my view Outland compares quite well despite Alien's iconic status. Alien conveys all the niceness of a vat of sulfuric acid. What a bunch of dismal characters inhabited that movie. Outland has a different feel to it and portrays more than a few positive human characteristics (the interaction between O'Neil and his wife is quite affecting although, or maybe because, it takes place via a video screen). And as to this being a 'remake' of High Noon set in outer space, well, it really isn't. In fact there's only one aspect of the plot that is similar (the first half of Outland is a whodunit), though the device of periodically showing a clock to countdown when the bad guys will arrive is of course an obvious imitation. Someone else said that this movie is actually a 'western', and that's true if you mean a movie with a real hero who stands virtually alone despite the odds on the side of right vs. wrong (though he does get a little help especially from one particular rather brave woman). Basically though, this is just a very good movie that makes good use of and occasionally even exceeds the limits of its genre. It's got plenty of action and suspense and not a single dead spot. It's worth seeing.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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