Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960). Director: Edgar G. Ulmer.

Major William Allison (Robert Clarke) flies his plane on a test run and somehow manages to cross the time barrier, winding up in a dismal world 64 years in the future. Due to a cosmic plague from space travel, the inhabitants of the underground city he is taken to are mostly sterile deaf mutes, and there are mutants -- with very wrinkled bald pates -- groveling in a prison pit. People who have escaped the plague are contemptuously referred to as "Scapes." Both the Captain (Boyd "Red" Morgan) and Supreme (Vladimir Sokoloff), who are the rulers, suspect Allison of being a spy, although it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to spy on this pathetic "civilization." Other "spies," whose aircraft or spacecraft also crossed the time barrier in later years than Allison's, include General Kruse (Stephen Bekassy of Black Magic), Dr. Bourman (John Van Dreelen of The Leech Woman) and Captain Markova (Arianne Arden Ulmer, the director's daughter). The most sympathetic person in this futuristic world is Trirene (Darlene Tompkins), who seems to have some psychic power and is hoping to repopulate the world with Major Allison. The other "spies" want to help Allison get back to his time so he can prevent the plague, but perhaps they have something more sinister up their sleeves ... Clarke [The Hideous Sun Demon], who also produced, gives a good performance in this, but the movie is old comic book-level sci fi schlock: dying future societies with horrible mutants were nothing new even in 1960, and a couple of interesting ideas are not well-developed. The acting is generally good, with Arianne Ulmer, who had few other credits, credibly bitchy, and the expressive Tompkins, who was introduced in this picture, poor gal, getting things across with no dialogue; she had a few more credits than Ms. Ulmer. Both Sokoloff and Boyd, who wears a ridiculously long and pointy beard in this, had a great many credits. The ending is rather downbeat, especially given that the Major is a pretty decent guy.

Verdict: Could have used a few monsters to liven things up; Clarke deserved better. **.

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