Time Walker (1982)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-09-22 09:01

Written by: Jason Williams & Tom Friedman (story), Tom Friedman & Karen Levitt (screenplay)
Directed by: Tom Kennedy
Starring: Ben Murphy, Nina Axelrod, Kevin Bropher, and Austin Stoker

Reviewed by: Brett G.

For centuries, he was trapped in a pharaoh's tomb. Now he is free.

Time Walker evokes two of the great mysteries of our time: Ben Murphyís prolific career and the fate of King Tut. Regarding the former, it only serves to deepen the mystery; it does, however, offer an answer for the latter: what if the teenage pharaoh contracted a fatal, fungal disease from a fucking space alien? I do suppose thatíd be less ignominious than succumbing to an ancient STD he got from an Egyptian hooker or whatever the working theory is at this point.

Better yet, what if said intergalactic traveler ended up mummified, only to find itself on the campus of a California science institute after itís discovered by Ben Murphy? Thatís exactly what happens here, and things actually go pretty swimmingly until some idiot decides to raid the spacemanís tomb of some jewels. Then another bumbling undergrad screws up the intensity of an x-ray machine, which resurrects the space mummy, who proceeds to stalk a nearby campus in search of his stolen bling. Police suspect a fraternity prank (which would actually make for a great movie--itíd be like Weekend at Bernieís meets Animal House meets The Mummy, or something), but Ben Murphy and his doctor buddy (Austin Stoker) suspect that the mummy will kill to retrieve his property.

Theyíre right, of course (mostly because Ben Murphy is infallible), and Time Walker ends up playing out like most ďmummies shambling amokĒ movies that preceded it decades before. There was a neat trend in the 80s where sci-fi B-movies from the 40s and 50s were updated, often to great and shlocky effect in films like The Thing, The Fly, The Blob, and even Night of the Creeps. This particular effort doesnít stand with those, not only because it sucks, but also because it actually plays out more like a tame creature feature from yesteryear. Aside from two pairs of super gratuitous breasts (even mummies canít resist a girl taking a shower, it would seem), these are decidedly PG-rated thrills. Not that there are really a whole lot of thrills in this clumsily edited and goofily acted cheese ball that Joel and the bots were once forced to endure on MST3K (simply dropping that fact alone should suffice as a review, but Iíll soldier on for you, dear readers).

Leading the charge is Murphy, who will always be ruined for me personally due to his later brush with MST3K that saw the Satellite of Love crew skewer Riding with Death. In that cinematic pile-up, Murphy played a doofus truck driver with a huckster charm, and that sort of carries over here; heís about as believable in the role of a scientist as Denise Richards was in that one Bond flick. Heís exceedingly earnest and resembles a poor manís Timothy Bottoms (which unfortunately might make him the equivalent of a modern Timothy Bottoms). At any rate, cult favorite Austin Stoker (still rocking a fro like itís 1975) fares much better as his assistant and should arguably be the lead. He might as well be anyway because the film is aggressive in its introduction of an ensemble of victims, so itís not like Murphy really does much besides ponder the mystery thatís before him. More familiar faces are among that ensemble, such as Kevin Brophy, James Karen, and Nina Axelrod, who eventually decided it would be more fun to subject others to this type of shit, so she became a casting director for the likes of Fright Night 2 and the last two Critters movies.

The mummy really fits right in with the cast in terms of performance, as it sort of just glides along from scene to scene--literally. In a movie called Time Walker, the title character doesnít walk at all, nor does it do anything involving time (besides waste it, maybe). I did like how it made use of its hovering ability to peep in on a naked girl, though. In one of the few inspired directing choices, the mummy is largely unseen for a while, and we instead see the world through his eyes, which seem to be filtered with a lime green Jello mold. He also seems to be powered by an Eveready flashlight, which allows him to glow with slight menace as he stalks the campus. Actually, said campus stalking is sort of undercooked, as the film shows a blatant disregard for the principles of Chekovís gun. In this case, if youíre going to show a college costume party thatís fuelled by cheap beer and terrible music early on, your mummified ET better tear that shit up at some point. Instead, this ET just wanders around looking for his jewels, which resemble small disco balls that must be affixed to something resembling a Starfleet emblem. Did it come from a planet visited by Kirk and crew that worshipped the Bee Gees? Iím going to pretend so.

If you canít tell, thereís a lot of fun to be had at the expense of Time Walker; I never saw this episode of MST3K, but I can only assume Best Brains had a blast with it too. I actually donít think itís nearly the worst movie they ever watched, as itís short and quaint enough, what with its cheap special effects, poor continuity, and the like. But whatís more distressing than that is its cliffhanger ending, which weíre assured will be continued; shockingly, it never was, meaning Time Walker also left us with another great mystery for our age: just what happened to Ben Murphy and star mummy? Maybe thatís what the nerd from Friday the 13th Part VII was going to write about (he is surely Time Walkerís biggest fan). Shout Factory continues to scrape the bottom of the B-movie barrel by throwing this one onto their ďVampires, Mummies, & MonstersĒ collection, where itís actually treated with the love and care of a great movie. Though it splits a disc with Grotesque, it receives a nice anamorphic transfer that makes the flick sparkle; meanwhile, the stereo track is a bit tinny and hollow, but intelligible enough. Youíll also get an interview with Kevin Brophy and producer Dimitri Villard along with the filmís trailer. I hope this release does so well that it reignites Americaís love for Ben Murphy and prompts someone to finally conclude this epic saga with the release of Time Walker 2: Electric Walkaloo. Rent it!

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