Let’s go back in time, shall we? (Pun intended!)
Let’s go waaayy back in time. I must have been 15-years-old, maybe 16, and my best friend Michael and I had just rented Timerider. I’ve stated this before, but we DID rent a LOT of movies back then and this one would have been right up our alley. A guy on a motorcycle going back in time to the old west? Hell yeah, we’re so there! And just look at that cool cover-art! I mean c’mon?
It would probably have been easier keeping flies off of a pile of dung, than keeping our greedy little teenage fingers from grabbing this title off the shelf. And as far as I remember, we weren’t disappointed either. Come to think of it, we rarely were. Disappointed, that is! We can either chuck that down to lower standards or… maybe we just had the ability to see some good in most movies we watched. And believe me, we’ve seen some clunkers in our days, but for the most part, we had a great time watching them.
Timerider opens up on a guy dressed in red, riding a red motorcycle through the Mexican desert. He’s going full throttle and is obviously a bit of a daredevil, but a good rider none the less, because we get a lot of this: “Wow, look at that guy go! – Yeah. it must be Swann.” Or “That rider is really good! – Yeah, it’s gotta be Swann!” A good chunk of the first twenty minutes are filled with this. People talking about Swann or shots of him riding along, doing wheelies and whatnot.
It’s kind of like the TV-show Baywatch when they run along the beach in slow-motion with music in the background. “Time-fillers”… that’s what you call those shots, right? And if they’re used correctly they can actually be hilarious. I always found it very funny when an episode of Baywatch started out that way. It’s like they didn’t know what to begin with, so they just had them run on the beach for a couple of minutes, killing time of the episode.
So, what have we learned here boys and girls? One… Peter used to watch Baywatch and two… he’s weird for sometimes finding time-filling shots amusing! Holy CRAP did I go way off subject here!
At the same time as Lyle Swann is racing along, there’s a secret project involving time-travel about to take place. A small rhesus monkey named Esther G is to be sent back in time to 1862 and successfully brought back again. Swann of course manages to drive right into this experiment at the exact right moment. Or wrong, depending on how you look at it! He’s promptly sent back to November 5th, 1877, but HE has no idea what has just happened and before the scientists have time to reverse the process… he drives off!
The cool thing about it is that all through this and even though he encounters some of the locals, Swann NEVER realizes that he’s been sent back in time. Not until the very end! And why should he? For all he knows he’s stumbled onto some weird cult, or sect, or something. Time-travel might not be the first explanation to pop into your mind.
The first person he meets is an old man who thinks he’s the devil and actually dies of fright. Later on he runs into three outlaws, the leader Reese, played by Peter Coyote (The Legend of Billie Jean, Bitter Moon) and the Dorsett brothers, Claude and Carl. Richard Masur (The Thing, Risky Business) is Claude and Carl is played by the actor who’s had so many bit-parts it’s almost ridiculous, Tracey Walter (Conan the Destroyer, Repo Man). Reese wants the motorcycle, or riding machine, for himself and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.
They chase Swann through the wilderness and mountains until he comes to a small settlement run by a man called the Padre. He’s played by Ed Lauter (Real Genius, Youngblood) and is aided by Belinda Bauer (Flashdance, Robocop 2) who plays Claire.
Claire takes a liking to Swann and more or less rapes him in one scene. She holds a gun to him and forces him to undress. Lyle is a bit startled and stammers: “But you can’t… women can’t…” However, it doesn’t look as if he minds it much though. After the deed is done they sit and talk a little and Claire asks about the necklace he wears. He tells her that his great-great-something… grandmother took it from his great-great-something… grandfather and it has been handed down through the Swann-generations.
This little bit of information explains things later on when Claire snatches the necklace from him just before he goes back. And let’s ponder on that for a second! Swann’s great-great… grandmother took it from his great-great… grandfather and that’s exactly what Claire did and her and Lyle had sex, so that means… Yeah! See where I’m going with this?
The cast of Timerider is fairly impressive with a bunch of recognizable names in all the principle roles. Apart from the ones I’ve already brought up there’s also L.Q. Jones (Lone Wolf McQuade, River of Death) and Chris Mulkey (First Blood, Twin Peaks) as two marshals chasing after the three outlaws. Lyle Swann is played by the awesome Fred Ward (Tremors, Southern Comfort) who does a great job in this.
To be honest, they all do and that’s one of the reasons that makes this little adventure an enjoyable one. The story is simple enough and there are not a whole lot of effects in it, so it’s more or less up to the actors to make this work. And they do!!
The only problem I have with this movie is that when it was released on DVD, the ending was changed! BIG TIME!! There are different explanations given to why this was done, but dammit, I used to own the VHS-tape… with the original ending! When Timerider was finally released on DVD, I chose to throw the tape away (Sorry Dale! Inexcusable, I know!) and now I’m left with the unsatisfactory “new” ending. Peter you dolt! Stupid Dane!
Until next time my friends…