Director: William Dear
Cast: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote
By Brian M. Sammons
Yes, it’s not a horror movie, but it is sci-fi, time travel, old west, dirt bikes, 80s, and awesome and that’s more than enough reasons for me to cover it. Also, as a child growing up with cable TV in the 80s, I must have seen this movie a thousand times and I enjoyed the hell out of it with every watch. But that was then, this is now, and I haven’t seen this movie in a decade or more. Would I still like it, or would it be like many childhood favorites and be a disappointment now? Well hop on your time traveling dirt bike (and for the record, this came out three years before Back to the Future) and let’s find out.
Fred Ward, the man who seemed to try and jumpstart two series in the 80s (this one – which originally had the subtitle of “The Adventure of Lyle Swann” and the equally 80s-tastic Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins) neither of which went beyond the first movie, plays Lyle Swann. Mr. Swann is champion dirt bike racer who wanders into a secret time travel test area and accidently gets sent back to the 1875. Yeah, sadly Lyle doesn’t have a time traveling dirt bike. That would have been just too cool for words I guess.
Since this was taking place in the American southwest, Lyle goes back to cowboy times where his dirt bike, high-tech motocross helmet, and flashy red jumpsuit make quite the impression on the locals. In fact most think he’s the devil. Unfortunately he runs into a gang of murderous outlaws lead by Reese (Peter Coyote) who recognizes that he’s just a man on a fancy “wheel machine” and wants to take Lyle’s motorbike for himself. Along the way our hero meets a pretty, young, pistol-packing lady to fall in love with (who actually sort of rapes him at gunpoint), her preacher, surrogate daddy who don’t like him none, and a small Mexican town for him to defend against the bad guys. In addition to all that, he must somehow find a way to get back to his own time, but remember, he doesn’t actually have a time machine.
Timerider is a slice of 80s sci-fi, western, adventure fun. It is more than ably directed and acted, with in addition to the leads, some memorable performances by veteran character actors Richard Masur, Tracey Walter, and Ed Lauter. All that wrapped up in an awesomely 80s synth-rock soundtrack. If you grew up loving this movie then rejoice, it is still as cool as you remember it. In fact, you rejoice even harder, because it looks great in HD.
As for the extras on this new Blu-ray from Shout! Factory, while it is not overloaded with them, it actually had more than I thought it would have. First there is an audio commentary track with director William Dear. There are also interviews with the director and producer Michael Nesmith. Sadly, none of the actors come back to do anything for the new BD release. What, was Fred Ward just too busy these days? Doing what? Whatever, there’s also a short storyboard gallery that brings the extras to a close.
I still enjoy the hell out of this slice of time traveling, cowboy, action silliness. If you were looking for a good example of a movie that “they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore” you could not find a better example than Timerider. If you still have a soft spot in your heart for this flick then pick this disc up, as it has never looked better. If you have yet to see this movie and have an affinity for 80s sci-fi films, then boy, are you in for a treat with this one. Consider it well recommended.