Saturday, September 27, 2014

Time Walker

I knew TIME WALKER was trouble right from the opening credits, in which an earthquake causes a tomb to collapse—completely off-screen using sound effects. So we know from the start that TIME WALKER is cheap. Too bad it’s also boring. And beware of any film that ends with a “To Be Continued…”

Said earthquake revealed a sarcophagus in King Tut’s tomb that Professor Doug McCadden (Ben Murphy, one-half of ALIAS SMITH AND JONES) brings to his California university. Inside is what appears to be a 3000-year-old mummy covered in a mysterious green fungus. What it really is is a living extraterrestrial that escapes from its coffin and roams the university to retrieve five gems that a student stole from it and distributed to various students. That fungus is actually a nasty flesh-eating substance that kills almost instantly and creates a long list of coed corpses.

TIME WALKER is Tom Kennedy’s one and only film as a director. He isn’t untalented, and his handling of the mummy in motion—it glides across the surface—is ethereal. In fact, the mummy is really cool, and it may have been a mistake for Kennedy to keep it mostly off-screen. He seems to be paying homage to the sci-fi/horror films of the 1940s and 1950s—the mild PG-rated violence and nudity is another indicator—but perhaps giving the material a harder edge would also have provided some necessary pep.

Murphy, squeezing in a rare feature lead between high-profile television gigs (he co-starred in THE WINDS OF WAR not long afterward), is just fine in the hero role and well-matched by LUCAN’s Kevin Brophy as the dope who starts all the trouble and an ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 reunion between Austin Stoker (as a sympathetic doctor) and Darwin Joston (cop). Look for HOTEL's Shari Belafonte as that unusual campus combo of radio DJ and photojournalist.

There’s a lot to like in TIME WALKER, or at least a lot that could be liked, but Kennedy’s turgid pacing and a monster with no personality are the real killers. Nice score by Richard Band (RE-ANIMATOR). New World’s Roger Corman asked for ten minutes to be cut before he released it, and while the last thing TIME WALKER needs is more running time, it’s clear that a few subplots had to be jettisoned.

1 comment:

Grant said...

I've never known ASSAULT ON PRECINT 13 (I feel like the only one who doesn't), but I've always liked Austin Stoker in BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. His scenes with Roddy McDowall might be the best "interaction" between an ape character and a human character in the whole series.