The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Timestalkers (1987)

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Klaus Kinski is one of the greatest actors ever. He's in the DTVC Hall of Fame as much for his philosophy on making movies, as he is for the movies he did. By all rights he's a better actor than people we usually associate with the craft like Daniel Day Lewis or Robert DeNeiro, but he's not as choosy in terms of the roles he took. He did movies based on how quickly he could shoot his scenes and get paid. The result of this is when his films are duds, which they usually were based on his selection crieria, we don't mind as much as when an actor who takes himself more seriously has a bad picture.

Timestalkers has Kinski as a scientist from the future who's gone back in time to the Old West to kill another scientist's ancestor. Lauren Hutton plays that scientist's daughter, sent back to stop Kinski. William Devane plays a history professor in the 1980s who suspects time travel is possible, and Hutton recruits him to help her find the Kinsk-inator. Cliff Claven is Devane's buddy in the military. In the end, Devane and Hutton go back in time to save the day.

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Other than Kinski, no one in this film fits their roles. Devane is too Nighttime Soap Opera to be believable as a gunslinging history professor. Lauren Hutton is way too 70s supermodel to be believable as a scientist's daughter, who's a scientist in her own right, coming from the future to save the day. Cliff Clavin is way too Cliff Clavin to be believed as a military officer. What this does is make the film feel a little off kilter in the scenes where Kinski's not there to rescue everyone with his solid acting prowess.

This lack of believability in the cast led to what I like to call the Destro Effect. The Destro Effect comes when the bad guy is cooler than the good guys, and hence forcing us to root for the bad guy to win. It never failed for me growing up and watching G.I. Joe. I was always so pissed when Destro was vanquished. I was equally pissed when Devane took out Kinski in this one. Ten Devanes aren't worth one Kinski.

Kinski is fantastic in this, as he is in everything. In the beginning, he's positively badass as a dude in the Old West hunting down another gunslinger. In 2586, he's positively the man, taking the stereotypical "everyone wears the same outfit" idea of the future, and making the clothes his own with the rolled up sleeves and unbuttoned collar. It's just so Kinski, and yet so great. He has this way of standing out, while at the same time fitting into the movie perfectly. They could've flipped the script and had him be a good guy, and it still would've worked.

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This whole movie was built on the frail foundation of one poorly conceived premise. I'm not talking about the science of time travel: I don't really care about that. The issue was Kinski's plot to kill the other scientist's ancestor. It made no sense. Why not go back in time 50 years, and kill the scientist himself as a child? If a scientist is smart enough to develop a device that allows humans to travel through time, you'd think he'd come up with a smarter plot to get rid of his rival.

This movie isn't so bad. In terms of the Kinski factor, he's in it enough to make it good. It's got plenty of material to work with if you rent it with some friends to make fun of on a movie night. You could probably find it to buy for like a buck or two at a used video store. I'm not sure if it airs on TV anymore, despite the fact it was initially aired on TV in 1987.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094154/

2 comments:

  1. The movie is so bad it's funny. Just watched it on Netflix. Especially the scene where Devane inexplicably ties his tie around his head while he's talking to Hutton and runs around for the next 20 minutes of the movie with his tie wrapped around his noggin. I was like, what is he doing? "Time to get down to business"? "That's it--the gloves are off!" -- ?

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  2. Wow, this is on Watch Instantly, that's great! It took quite a bit for me to track it down when I did it for this review, so it's nice to know it's more accessible now. So bad it's funny definitely sums this up, but Kinski was great as always.

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