Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Timestalkers (1987)

A year after the tragic loss of his wife and son in a car accident, history professor Scott McKenzie is convinced by best friend General Joe Brodsky to attend an Old West auction. They bid on and win a couple of trunks. While Scott is perusing the ephemera contained within, he stumbles across an tintype - which appears to be printed on heavy paper.  It depicts three desperadoes in their coffins. In the background, Scott discovers a man who has a 1980 era pistol.

Thinking he's been ripped off since the photo couldn't possibly have been taken in the 1800s, Scott does further research and starts to wonder if perhaps something else is going on.  He is approached by a woman named Georgia who wants to see the photo so that she can track down where it was taken, for whatever historical thing she's supposedly working on.

The two stop in a deserted tourist old west town a couple of hours away which has a mountain range that matches the photo.  Hot damn, if Georgia doesn't turn out to be a time traveler trying to track down Dr. Cole, the man in the photo.  Cole is an evil scientist who's gone back in time to kill the ancestors of Georgia's father who demanded that time travel be used for good and not personal whims or evil.  No one shall ask why Dr. Cole decided to go 700 years into the past rather than perhaps tracking down her father as a child, and pushing him off a cliff.

Future lady Georgia searched out Scott because he wrote an amazing treatise on the theory of time travel.  Yes, I'm sure it's still relevant 600 years later, as she says. The two team up to try to stop Dr. Cole and hijinks ensue.  Georgia dresses up as a Union soldier, which is confusing since I'm not sure if the movie is asking us to suspend disbelief and think she actually is fooling the rubes in the 1800s just because she's got her hair tucked up under her hat.  And what the hell is up with Scott, who takes a scarf and ties it around his head like he's Jimi Hendrix.

This is a made for TV movie. The first scenes into the past are a sharp, unexpected jolt that occur during the auction.  All of a sudden there's this sound effect right out of Star Wars and what looks like an explosion that wipes the screen into a different era. It happens multiple times before there's any context so you're not sure what's going on.  Also it seems like maybe they couldn't decide what sort of movie they wanted to make so they threw a western and the future into a drama.

Time travel is accomplished with the aid of an item that reminded me a of a glass doorknob. Every time they travel, the ground is scorched in a circle around them.  Dr. Cole cleverly uses time travel to position himself within a military zone and then comes into the present to avoid going through military security.  Clever, but I always wonder why no one ever materializes half inside a wall since it would be hard to judge exactly where the buildings were at a different time period.  Klaus Kinski is Dr. Cole, and every time you think he can't look any crazier, he ups the ante and looks even more insane.  Also I find William Devane's large teeth very distracting.

The movie is fairly typical of made for tv fare, but the ending leaves more questions than it answers because it messes with time which would create a paradox.  

Why that certainly is a male Union soldier, but my
1800s brain can't make heads nor tails of that scarf.
All you need for time travel is a glass doorknob
Uber creepy, crazy Kinski

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