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Monday, December 31, 2018

When Sci-Fi Diet Was Strictly Starvation


The Time Travelers (1965) Is More Talk Than Travel

This was the sort of thing we'd go see when whatever suggested sci-fi or horror would do. Distributing AIP promised mutants and maidens. The Time Travelers sort of had these, but mostly it was chat, nee lecturing, by frost-haired John Hoyt, who's trying to save vestige of human life on the inevitably dying planet these time-trippers visit (our own, natch). Effects are OK, a few money-shots (if you could call any that in such a cheapie) reminiscent of Forbidden Planet. I hadn't seen The Time Travelers in over fifty years, so was eager for a rematch, that enabled by MGM's DVD where the pic is jammed on a single disc with three other genre obscurities. At least the transfer is new, and wide-screened faithfully to what we saw at the Liberty in 1965. I got through the 82 minutes mostly on sentiment. Otherwise, there's too much scientific double-talk, especially from Hoyt, who comes off like Dr. Frank Baxter who intro-lulled us to sleep before The Mole People got underway in 1956. Why is it glimpses of the future always come down to post-apocalypse? I want one where time travelers go there and find a world of sugarplums and happy folk.

4 Comments:

Blogger Donald Benson said...

The revived Mystery Science Theater 3000 did this one. Surprised it was 1965. It felt like a "newer" independent or TV pilot from the 70s or so, but that might just me contrasting it to 1950s fare.

Lost / Alien civilizations as well as distant futures are also likely to be shown in last-gasp mode, with queen or high priest going on about how swell it USED to be ("And can be again, Earth Man!").

Even some big films went this route. "Forbidden Planet" offered some spectacle, but kept reminding us we were seeing only the barest hint of the wonders Walter Pidgeon found. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" had nice-looking ruins and one more outsized iguana, which still disappointed as the climax of their journey. "This Island Earth" let us look at some miniatures during a drive from the airport. "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" simply tormented us by blowing up the really cool Vulcania after a few fleeting shots.

Even when the civilization was supposedly a going concern, we might be confined to a flashy matte painting and a few cramped interiors. Also sparse populations, akin to budget historical epics where we're told about massive armies and mighty fleets that never appear onscreen, unless stock footage exists.

4:39 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Okay, I have questions! Showed this one somewhere in the early 70s at a college coffee house and one thing I remember was the trick climax, presumably the 'downbeat ending' Maltin refers to in his movie guide. Revisited it for the first time on the MST 3000 reboot and was surprised there was an entirely different upbeat ending! Was this released in two versions, or did they doctor it for the show? Another semi-interesting thing about the film, the majority of special effects seem to involve stage magic rather than photographic processes. Anyway, can someone set me straight on the differing endings?

10:50 AM  
Blogger William Ferry said...

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME (1967) is a remake of THE TIME TRAVELERS, and this has the downbeat ending (at least by comparison).

11:38 PM  
Blogger Dan Oliver said...

I, too, was surprised when the MSTK version ended too soon. I know they edit films to make the riffing easier and more effective, and I think that's what happened here. Still, I remember from a viewing in the late '70s that it was the oddball ending that made the film worth watching, so it was quite a letdown when it didn't appear.

2:06 PM  

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