Lists: Five Somewhat Obscure Time Travel Films

Here is a list of five somewhat obscure cult time travel flicks that you should watch at least once. Most hardcore cult film fans have probably seen these already. Have you seen them all?

Just Imagine 1930

“Come today...soar on wings of fancy to the magic days of tomorrow's existence...see life, love in 1980---find out what your grandchildren are going to do!” (1). A man who had been struck by lighting and died in 1930 is revived in 1980 New York City. In this future, things have drastically changed. Minus the singing and missing the presence of Wesley Snipes, the basic premise and governmental changes that exist are very similar to Demolition Man (1993). It is an unusual film that mixes the musical and sci-fi genres, along with a bunch of corny jokes that must have been relevant for the era.

What really stands out in this is the set design and special effects, which paved the way for future sci-fi films. The massive art deco style New York city-scape was created by a team consisting of 205 technicians over a five-month period, and cost $168,000 to build (2). This was also the first motion picture to display the grand electrical equipment that is used to revive the character back from the dead, which was created by Kenneth Strickfaden (2). He went on to more famously create similar special effects in Frankenstein (1931), Wizard of Oz, Young Frankenstein, and many other film and television programs (2). The movie received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction in 1931.

It ended up as a box office flop, with the first cycle of popular musicals reaching their conclusion right around the time of its release. Fox was able to recoup the losses by reusing footage from the production in the Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon serials, as well as others (3).

Check this out if you’re a fan of old musicals or to see the great special effects.

World without End 1956

“THE 26TH CENTURY! Sub-Human Monsters... Mammoth Tiger Spiders... Mole-Tunnel Cities... Futurific Women... in the Screen's Mighty Science-Shocker!” (4). In this B sci-fi film, four astronauts are on a mission to Mars when they end up in some type of time warp sending them into the year 2508. They crash land on earth and discover giant mutated spiders, a group of mutated Cyclops cavemen, and a group of normal humans living underground.

The production values, makeup, and special effects are excellent for this type of movie, which may vary depending on your opinion of the whole B-film sci-fi genre. The effects using plastic models look realistic enough for the era, especially one specific sequence involving the space ship. There are also the usual laughs and questions that can be raised involving these types of space films, as well as awesome fake looking monster props! You can see this as being one of the precursors for the Star Trek TV series and the Planet of the Apes motion pictures.

This was mainly made in order to re-use some older footage from another Allied Pictures film, Flight to Mars (1951) (5). Several other pictures also lifted the crash sequences from Flight to Mars. The director, Edward Bernds, made The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, as well as some other B sci-fi films. Actor Rod Taylor would later go on to star in The Time Machine and The Birds. Future famed director Sam Peckinpah and actor Strother Martin both had uncredited parts in the making of this (4).

If you love sci-fi films of the 1950’s and 1960’s, then this is a must see.

Beyond the Time Barrier 1960

This is the ultra low budget, evil step son knock off of World without End. Filmed in Texas on a budget of $125,000, it follows pretty much the same storyline except only one soldier goes into the future. A radioactive catastrophe has occurred and greatly altered humanity; somehow he must find a way back to the present and prevent the catastrophe from happening.

This was directed by one of the kings of ultra low budget B films, Edgar G. Ulmer. The film was financed by some Texas businessmen, so it was filmed on an old fairground and abandoned Marine Corps Air Station near Dallas, Texas (6). The production company that ended up with the rights to the film piggybacked off the success of The Time Machine, releasing it a month later (6).

Idaho Transfer 1973

“In the Earth Year 2029 there are only twelve young people left. They should be trying to start a new civilization... instead they're trying to kill each other!” (7). The government has been able to create a time travel device and they have discovered that an ecological catastrophe will soon eliminate the whole population of earth. The effects of the time travel on older people is too destructive, so they have created a team of young people under the age of 20 to try and repopulate 56 years into the future.

This is a very strange and unusual low budget 1970’s film, which ends up being a mixture of the time travel subgenre and Lord of the Flies. Noted for being directed by Peter Fonda, it was shot for around $150,000 and featured a bunch of unknown unprofessional actors. It is very reminiscent of the era of the 1970’s, and its bizarreness is something that will make you either love it or be bored to death. The end of the film has a pretty big twist.

Yor, The Hunter From the Future 1983

“He was a powerful warrior from the future, trapped in a prehistoric land, battling for the survival of his people” (8). In a crazy mix of polar opposite genres, a prehistoric warrior named Yor searches for his true heritage and comes to discover that he is actually from the future.

This was an Italian production that is based on an Argentine comic book and was directed by Antonio Margheriti, a well known B movie maker who also did Cannibal Apocalypse and Flesh for Frankenstein. You may recognize the actor that plays Yor, Reb Brown also starred as Captain America in two made for TV movies in the 1970’s.

This is an excellent example of a great bad movie. Its low budget and they try to throw everything and the kitchen sink in it, most likely reusing sets and costumes from other productions. The film moves quick and its amusing. If you like B movies, then you should get some enjoyment out of this. The music is great, especially the Yor theme song!

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Works Cited

1. IMDB. [Online] IMDB, 2 11, 2016. [Cited: 2 11, 2016.]
2. Kreuger, Rick. The Movie Musical from Vitaphone to 42nd Street as Reported in a Great Fan Magazine. New York : Dover Publications, 1974.
3. Moviediva. [Online] Moviediva, 2 11, 2016. [Cited: 2 11, 2016.]
4. IMDB. [Online] IMDB, 2 10, 2016. [Cited: 2 10, 2016.]
5. Vagg, Stephen. Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood. s.l. : Bear Manor Media, 2010.
6. Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies. Jefferson : Mcfarland & Company inc, 2010.
7. IMDB. [Online] IMDB, 2 11, 2016. [Cited: 2 11, 2016.]
8. IMDB. [Online] IMDB, 2 13, 2016. [Cited: 2 13, 2016.]