Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Time After Time"(1979)d/Nicholas Meyer

Tonight's feature answers the second most nagging question on the collective 1979 conscience, "What if H.G. Wells unwittingly provided Jack the Ripper with an escape route throughout time via the time-travelling machine he'd only just constructed in his basement, forcing him to follow the murderer through the years, like some sort of impromptu time detective?".Number one, being: "You mind if I bang this hulking line of  fishscale Peruvian off of your ass quick?I hear "Night Fever" coming on out there, and I love that song.".These words I speak are true.Seriously, look it up.Malcolm McDowell had just premiered his controversial turn in Tinto Brass' Caligola(1979) seventeen days before tonight's release, a sharply dilineated departure from the nudity, urination and slo-mo vomiting he'd shared for Brass' lens in bringing the disturbed young Caesar to the big screen.Opposite McDowell here is genre vet David Warner as the infamous sex-selling slut-slicing surgeon he's in pursuit of, and he's sinister, as always, if not a bit underappreciated here.Mary Steenburgen plays Wells' modern love interest, Amy, and you can even spot former Andy Warhol discovery-turned-supporting-actress, Patti D'Arbanville, in here as one of Saucy Jack's vic's, and a young Corey Feldman as a boy at the museum.Revisiting it for probably the first time since the cable box days(or network telly, methinks), I found it to be an enjoyably fluffy romp, despite the lengthy running time(nearly two hours), and the film's general aversion to worthwhile action occurring within it's frames.It must be some sort of childhood nostalgia going down in me gulliver again.Forwards!
"Oi, that weren't me cunny, guv'nor...."
John Leslie Stevenson(David Warner) arrives late for his mate, H.G. Wells'(Malcolm McDowell) unveiling of his latest invention, a working time machine, due to an as-yet-undiscovered propensity to leave Whitechapel whores slumped dead in back alleys with their innards whistling in the wind.By the time Scotland Yard has policed the blood trail to Wells' flat, Saucy Jack has already deftly skirted past the commotion to the basement, somehow managing to transport himself forward through time into 1979.Wells, realizing his contraption has sprung Jack the Ripper on an unsuspecting future socialist Utopian society(Ha!), packs up the available folding money and shiny trinkets to trade with the natives(!) on a journey through the tapestry of time to catch a cold-blooded killer.Once in 1979, Wells finds himself hopelessly out of place, even in ordering fast food, while Stevenson has adapted to the future quite seamlessly, trading his antiquated garb for groovy denim action vests and polyester disco boogie suits.Wells traces the Ripper to his hotel room by monitoring his guinea exchange at a local  bank, where the surgeon/slasher illustrates the current society's violent-prone mindset with a television remote, leading to a mostly unthrilling chase on foot through the crowded streets of San Francisco.Losing his target, who's wrongly believed to be killed in a traffic accident, Wells is forced to retreat to the friendly face of a teller named Amy(Mary Steenburgen) who removes the sting of his wounds by showing him around the city and giving up the first date mogambo while she's at it.
"I don't see the promotional 'Caligula' soft drink glasses display anywhere, and I should very much like a word with your superior, young lady."
A newspaper headline declaring the discovery of another Ripper victim abruptly snaps Herbert from his recent liason, and forces him to reveal the whole unbelievably mad truth to her when offering tips to the police under the alias of 'Sherlock Holmes' proves rather fruitless, indeed.Wells sneaks Amy into his time machine, taking her forward a couple of days to prove his story, only to have her discover via future headline that she is to die at the hands of the ripper herself.The duo plot Stevenson's next moves using the future newspaper, but Herbert gets himself locked up hours beforehand, only to be released when the authorities mistake the mutilated body of Carol, one of Amy's friends for her, just in time to find Saucy Jack making off with his girl in tow, at knifepoint.Herbert tearfully pleads with Stevenson at the museum for Amy to be delivered over unharmed, but Stevenson is not satisfied by merely proving Wells wrong about man's instincts, and plans to take Amy with him in Wells' machine.In the melee, she manages to escape his clutches before Herbert can remove the 'vaporizing equalizer' from the side of the time craft, effectively sending Jack the Ripper screaming through the ages without the machine.Amy's emotional pleas influence Wells to take her with him back to his own age, vowing to change her name to Susan B. Anthony as part of the bargain.The credits that follow tell us the couple later married.
Jack the Ripper(David Warner) would rather spill your entrails on the concrete than shake his groove thang.
The real Amy Robbins was one of Wells' young real-life students that he fell in love with while already married to his own cousin,and married a year later in 1895.Free love, indeed, Herbert, free love, indeed.Steenburgen and McDowell tied the knot themselves the following year, and divorced in 1990.He's one of my favorite actors of all-time, whereas she's mostly appeared in the kind of movies I'd never watch unless there be pussy to be gained afterwards, and even then, prolly not, folks.Meyer, who also helmed the cult classic, Invasion of the Bee Girls(1975), is probably best known today for directing several of the Star Trek films, most notably 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.Insert your best over-dramatic William Shatner scream here.Warner, another long-time favorite of mine, can be seen in such diverse fare as 1970's Straw Dogs, From Beyond the Grave(1974), The Omen(1976), The Island(1980), The Man With Two Brains(1982), and even Titanic(1997).On the scale, Time stands the test of time for the most part, earning a respectable two Big ones.Worth a look...
Whore-ripping, time-space continuum-spitting, tron-gasm finales: One.


CowboyX said...

Why the fuck would you put that thing on the OUTSIDE of the time machine?

beedubelhue said...

And what are the chances that Jack the Ripper, who somehow correctly guessed the sequence of controls, would overlook that vaporizer doohickey in the end? Indeed!


Connect with Facebook