Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Beyond The Time Barrier!

Beyond the Time Barrier is a low-budget sci-fi offering I'd never known about really until I found it among several other "classics" on a small collection I picked up for another film. This movie directed by Edgar G. Ulmer can trick you. The images I've seen online make it look very intriguing. The poster art is well above average and the stills suggest a richness that the movie fails to deliver.

It stars Robert Clarke, veteran of many well remembered lower-budgeted sci-fi classics, is the hero in question who is a test pilot in 1960 named Major Bill Allison. While conducting a test he slips out of sync with the Earth and slides into the future about sixty years or so. He finds a desolated world with enclaves of silent survivors huddled in protective cities. They need protection because the world is apparently brimming with mutants. The first stage of the decline is the loss of hearing and speech, so aside from a few leaders no one in this world talks. It makes a strangely quiet movie and adds a small element of weirdness.

Also on hand are three other time travelers (of which Arianne Ulmer as "Markova" is the most interesting by far) from various periods who prove not quite as reliable as our hero. During his brief stay in the future the pilot falls in love with Trirene, the pert granddaughter (Darlene Tompkins) of the "Supreme", the leader of the stricken people (Vladimir Sokoloff), and survives his encounter with the crazed mutants. He eventually tries to fly back home by reversing his direction and the movie does offer up a very Twilight Zone twist on this cautionary tale.

The movie is actually a bit duller than I've described with lots of walking in the sprawling sets which apparently made use of some visually interesting but abandoned architecture from the 1930's era Texas Centennial Exhibition Fair. Also the mutants are represented by some interesting inset shots from an old Fritz Lang movie. This is a movie that knows what it is and proceeds accordingly, but sadly despite assistance by the U.S. Air Force even, lacks that special something to elevate beyond its limited amibitions.

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