Known to MST3K fans as Being From Another Planet, Tom Kennedy’s Time Walker is a very difficult movie to be nice about. It’s weird because, honestly, I can almost see what they were going for with it. There’s some weird mummy creature that goes around killing people to get some crystals that were stolen from it. The creature (and its crystals) can also spread a fungus that’s potentially lethal to anyone who touches it. In itself, that’s actually not the worst sci-fi concept, especially if you’re an ultra-nerdy mofo. Still, the concept is only half the battle to making a decent movie. If the execution is lacking, even a great idea (let alone a mediocre one) can end up doing significant damage to the overall work. That’s sorely the case with Time Walker.
Here’s something you have to understand, too: I am fully capable of liking sub-par or outright shitty movies. It actually happens fairly often. Still, I’d really have to strain myself to try to enjoy this one. Even the Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary only helped so much, and Joel and the bots are pros! Perhaps the real question is, how could this movie have been better?
How Could ‘Time Walker’ Have Been Better?
I just watched this movie 3 days ago and I barely remember it. While that could reflect some early-onset Alzheimer’s, I think it has more to do with the movie itself. For starters, the characters are uninteresting, including somehow even the mummy creature. How is this possible, you might ask? I don’t even know, because the story definitely could be interesting. So, at best, I can only estimate what the problem is. If there were some better moments of dialogue, cooler characters, more memorable scenes, and more overall style, this movie could have been substantially better. Also, I’ll go ahead and say there isn’t any social commentary of value, either, which even plenty of crappy sci-fi/horror movies manage to do effectively.
Humor could have helped, too. In fact, that’s probably exactly what saves other movies, such as anything by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Almost everyone (including most fans) agree that Ed Wood’s movies sucked, but they have character, possible laughs, and definitely memorable scenes. If he didn’t have any of that stuff, he would also basically fade from memory. In other words, this movie would probably be better if it was worse. As is, you can’t even say “It’s so bad it’s good.” This movie stars Ben Murphy, Nina Axelrod,
Kevin Brophy, and Shari Belafonte (daughter of Harry Belafonte). You probably won’t remember any of their performances, though.
Are There Good Mummy Movies?
Could part of the problem be my lack of respect for mummies as monsters? Maybe, but only to an extent. They are not my favorite kind of movie monster, so I’m a little bit guilty as charged. Still, there are some halfway decent mummy movies. For this very website, I’ve written about Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, referring to “a classic contrast between the dignity of Princess Ara’s legend and the slapstick humor of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.”
However, my potential appreciation for mummy fare doesn’t end there. My actual favorite mummy story comes from John Harrison’s Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Although the movie seems sorely underrated, I really appreciate how creepy the mummy is in the “Lot 249” segment — even if far from the mightiest villain imaginable. Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, there are moments that might send a shiver up someone’s spine. It also has good performances by Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, and Christian Slater (who, honestly, seems a bit underappreciated in his own right).
Yes, I’ll Probably Still Give ‘Time Walker’ Another Chance
I pride myself on not being like other film critics who relentlessly rip into something, being utter dicks about it. Hell, I don’t particularly want to be known as a film/TV critic, but just as a guy who watches stuff, writes about it sometimes, and maybe occasionally wrestles a buck or two out of it. So that’s why, yes, I’ll probably check this movie out again at some point. Maybe I’ll have an extended mummy movie marathon or some bullshit like that. Maybe I’ll just feel like I need a dose of light torture. Who knows? I will say, though, it’ll have to be with the MST3K boys or that torture won’t be nearly as light. Lemme tell you unequivocally: This movie does stink.
Do you agree that Time Walker stinks to high heaven? If not, what brand of clothespin did you use to shield your nostrils? Let us know in the comments!