The Time Travelers
The went to a nightmare world by accident.
The Time Travelers is a science fiction movie released by American International Pictures on October 29, 1964, and was directed by Ib Melchior. The motion picture is about a small group of scientists who are conducting experiments in a lab during the present day. When one of the group steps thru a portal that displays an alien landscape, the others follow afterward only find themselves trapped in a barren world. There are no major stars in the cast only character actors whose experience includes movies and TV. The movie was shot on a very low budget and as a result, low-grade special effects were used. The running time was 82 minutes and was billed with a double feature.
The cast members were composed of various character actors who were neither famous nor unknow. Rather they were recognized for a role in a previous movie or TV show. Principal actors included were Preston Foster as Dr. Erik von Steiner, Philip Carey as Dr. Steve Connors, Steve Franken as Danny McKee, and Merry Anders as Carol White. The movies supporting cast were composed of John Hoyt as Dr. Varno, Joan Woodbury as Gadra, Delores Wells as Reena, and J. Edward McKinley as Raymond.
The Time Travelers was directed by Ib Melchior a Danish movie director famous for B-grade Sci-Fi films during the 50s and 60s. Melchior worked on several popular science fiction movies, The Angry Red Planet, Reptilicus, and Roberson Crusoe of Mars. He was also a novelist and wrote both non-fiction and fiction books. Although he was a Danish citizen, he severed with the US Army doing World War Two as a counter-intelligence agent. While in the service he was decorated for bravery, aided the Danish resistance, and assisted in the liberation of a concentration camp.
The movie starts out with three scientists working in a university lab on means to view the world in the future. It is an electronic device that creates a view of a point or place in the future. The scientists are Dr. Erik von Steiner, Dr. Steve Connors, and Carol White. The devices they use draws a tremendous amount of electrical power and this doesn't sit too well with the school administration. A tech from their power plant, Danny McKee, is sent to tell the scientists to terminate their experiments after entering the lab. While watching the experiment, Danny notices some strange movements near the viewscreen. He decides to look around and sticks his hand thru the viewscreen. He then steps thru the screen and disappears. The scientists go after him and can't find him, however, they find themselves in a deserted landscape. Once Danny is found unharmed, the group finds themselves trapped in the unknown world after the portal disappears. Then out of nowhere, the group is attacked by a primitive tribe and they run to a nearby cave for shelter.
Once inside the protection of the cave, the group finds that they are near an entrance to an underground city. This becomes evident when they are met with a woman accompanied by humanoid robots. The woman who is a member of the undergrown city takes them to meet Dr. Varno, the leader of the remaining survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Dr. Varno welcomes the time travelers to their city and explains that they are now in the year 2071. He further explains that the world is dying and his citizens are working and a spaceship destined toward Alaph Centauri. Due to certain constraints and planning, Varno can't allow the time travelers to journey with them but allows them to use the city resources to recreate a new time viewer so they can return to there on time.
The travelers settle into the life of the city and find they have an array of high-tech at their disposal. They are factories, labs, and machine shops producing everything imaginable. One of the most important products is the human-like robots the do the majority of the labor. However, working on the time viewer is no easy task, reworking their device is time-consuming. During this time, the travels form relationships with the inhabitants. Danny, the only non-scientist of the travelers, falls for a female inhabits Renna. There are also other dangers the travelers face as well. The inhabitants have to deal with periodic disruptions caused by surface mutants who raid the caves for supplies.
Do the Travelers get back?
As all efforts progress for the travels, an equal amount of urgency is occurring for the undergrown inhabitants. They have a launch window to complete and time is running short. To make matters worse, the underground city experiences a massive attack from the surface mutants which results in the destruction of the spaceship. At this point, Dr. Varno decides that using the time travel's portal viewer is the only means of escape. Varno commits' the remaining recourses to the untested rebuilt time viewer before the mutants reach the lab. Once the travelers activate the time viewer all the travelers and few of the inhabitants return to the grounds of the campus during the present day. They immediately go to the lab and make a curious discovery. Once there they see themselves standing motionless at the controls. The travelers determine that when they crossed back they went back a bit too far and the present time is increased for them but the past time movies slower. To escape this situation, they step back into the time viewer but arrive at some 100,000 years into the future. At this point in the future, the Earth as healed itself and surface abounds with life.
Some interesting trivia about this movie.
Time Travelers has some very interesting cast members that had small roles during the movie. The most famous was a cameo of magazine editor Forest J. Ackerman. He was often seen making cameo appearances in low-budget sci-fi and horror movies. He was a well-known collector of both science fiction and horror memorabilia from TV, movies, books, etc.. Mr. Ackerman was also created for creating the word sci-fi as a means to promote science fiction. He is seen as a lab tech working a piece of glass that is conjured up via a magician's trick.
Delores Wells who played Rena, the love interest of Danny, worked as a model and actress. She was also Miss June 1960 for Playboy magazine. Mrs. Wells acted in B-movies in the 60s and later became the make-up artist for Alice Cooper.
The most interesting bit part was played by a man who suffered real-life deformities. The actor was Peter Strudwick who asked the director to be in the movie. Strudwick was born with claw-like hands and had no feet, yet he was a marathon runner. His mother had suffered from Rubella while pregnant and the deformities were the result. Strudwick played the part of the mutant that Carol While confronts in the caves.
My thoughts on the movie.
I enjoyed watching this movie the first time I saw it. It had just about anything I could possibly want in a sci-fi movie. It had time travel, robots, future tech, rocket ships, and a lot more. The rocket ship's destruction was a good miniature effect which added a classic quality to the movie. Overall it had a great story that gave a sense of urgency for parties, the inhabitants wanting to leave in their ship, and the travelers yearning to get back to their time. Also, there was a romantic notion of what the future could be. It was just a good B-grade sci-fi movie perfect for the late-night or Saturday afternoon viewing.
Here are some suggested reading and sources I used in writing this article.