If time is the fourth dimension, sticking with one through three looks pretty good this week.
The exception was BLUE MOON (1999), a kind of magical realist time-travel tale in which two couples vacationing at a small cabin in the Catskills discover they’re renting the same cabin—oh, and the younger couple thinks it’s 1959 and they have the same name as the older couple … This is the kind of talky drama (it plays a lot like it was written for the stage) that probably shouldn’t work, but the cast was good enough to cinch it for me, particularly Ben Gazzara and Rita Moreno as the older couple. It obviously says something that I didn’t get terribly frustrated during the long No Time Travel Is Impossible discussion I’ve already seen so many times. “I knew you were a Democrat the moment I laid eyes on you!”
HYPERFUTURA (2014) has a near-future dystopia’s Mad Scientist subject a human guinea pig to Pretentious Surreal Psychedelic Brainwashing that will also turn him into a “trans human” for some undefined time-travel mission. The psychedelics are old hat to anyone who’s been watching film as long as I have, and so pretentiously clever they made me think of the bar mitzvah film in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Krativz (hard to describe if you haven’t seen it, but so not a compliment). “Don’t go limp on me now—we need the money shot!”
MILLENIUM (1989) is a real disappointment as print SF writer John Varley scripted it from one of his own short stories. The core plot involves time travelers from a literally sterile future trying to restart the human race by rescuing doomed souls from fatal airplane crashes, only to have time traveler Cheryl Ladd draw the attention of NTSB investigator Kris Kristofferson (marginally less wooden than everything else he’s ever done). This starts well but slides into cliches and nonsense—and the ending where it turns out Ladd has a bun in her oven makes no sense and isn’t explained. And the ending voice over is worthy of a 1950s Z-movie. With Maury Chaykin and Daniel Travanti as investigators and Llloyd Bochner as a bureaucrat. “Those words will be engraved in the annals of understatement.”
NORMAN’S AWESOME EXPERIENCE (1989) is a decidedly non-awesome tale in which a freak accident sends a physicist, a manipulative model and her equally snotty photographer back to the Roman era where Norman fights against Rome (it’s very Connecticut Yankee in his ability to create fireworks, hot-air balloons and a printing press) and the snotty ones side with the empire. Incredibly tedious—they may have been shooting for anachronistic wackiness but the protagonist’s way too bland. “There’s a Roman legion attacking at any moment, so let’s get to work.”
HOUSE OF CLOCKS (1989) is a pointless Italian horror film in which two elderly sadists are killed by burglars, but their magic clocks rewind time so the sadists return to life to kill—and kill—and kill again! Forgettable. “That’s not possible—we cut the wires.”
I finally began rewatching classic Doctor Who again—Tomb of the Cybermen has the Second Doctor and Jamie take new companion Victoria on her first trip, which lands them on the seemingly dead world of Telos, once home to the Cybermen. Unfortunately, a crew of archeologists fails to realize that unearthing the title burial place is just as suicidal as digging up mummies in horror movies …This is a fun one, though the Cybermen’s pet Cybermats don’t work at all (neither visually scary, not dangerous enough here). And one of the series’ rare black characters winds up dying heroically to boot. “Yours is the privilege to witness, for the first time, a union between mass power and absolute intelligence!”
(All rights to image with current holder).
Going slightly out of sequence The Krotons has the Doctor, Jamie and Zoey arrive on a backwards world where the mysterious eponymous creatures control the humanoid inhabitants under the guise of helping them (“Everything they learn comes from a Kroton learning machine.”) and have, of course, a Sinister Agenda. This is low budget, with a silly looking monster (the result of a Design a Monster contest for BBC’s Blue Peter) but Robert Holmes’ script (his first of many for the show) works well enough that I enjoyed it. “You can tell that the captain’s not at the helm, can’t you?”