CB hero, Brendan Patterson is back with a look at The Day Time Ended from 88 Films‘ Grindhouse Collection.
Have you ever wondered where would you go and what would you do if you could travel through the space-time continuum?
I like to imagine that I would travel from Finsbury Park area of London to the Mojave Desert, California in the year 1979 and stop the production of The Day Time Ended.
The mind boggles at what consequences this could reap on our present day reality. In Ray Bradbury’s short story, A Sound of Thunder, a time traveller only very accidentally treads on a twig or something and ends up coming back to a modern day world that is well and truly fucked.
A move as ballsy as putting a B picture out of commission could only have even greater, more calamitous repercussions, but somehow in the case of The Day Time Ended, I can’t help but feel it would be worth the risk.
This bargain basement Sci-Fi opus was an early production by one Charles Band (uh oh) and gives proof positive to the fact that you can’t re-create Close Encounters of the Third Kind without either a serviceable script or substantial effects budget.
In a nutshell the wafer thin plot is as follows:
Opening scene and we are somewhere in the depths of the cosmos. Out of nowhere a disembodied voice, that we will later learn belongs to Grant Williams (Jim Davis), blurts out that time as we know and understand it is non-sequential (!). In fact everything exists in a continuum and just to put the tin hat on it, he doesn’t know where he is or what century it is any more. Blah, blah, blah (hope you’re still with me).
From there we backtrack to the Williams family’s beige, solar powered ranch in the middle of the desert circa 1979. Their domestic idyll is inexplicably shattered one evening when Grant and his aged but MILF-like wife Ana (Dorothy Malone) witness a low flying UFO during their night time walk (in dressing gowns).
This is an early sign that their home is in the process of being sucked into a space/time vortex (!) and for the next 80 minutes or so the Williams clan will be subjected to all manner of “weird shit”.
At first this is all relatively low key i.e. flashing lights in the sky and mysterious green gas that wafts under the bedroom door of their granddaughter, leading to the appearance of a miniature, cavorting gremloid (my terminology). Like I said low key.
By the 60-minute mark, however, the proverbial shit has well and truly hit the space-time continuum fan as giant stop-motion monsters do battle in the Williams’ front yard. Later, Grant wanders out to see what’s going on and observes that the place has now been covered in cheap matte shots of dune buggies and other futuristic tat, etc., etc.
Watching, let alone trying to write something coherent about this movie is tough. The Day Time Ended basically makes little or no sense whatsoever and the closing act is almost as if the filmmakers said “well sod it then”.
Maybe, just maybe you could say that its open-ended narrative prefigures Prometheus by leaving so much unanswered and inviting viewers to ruminate on the bigger questions of existence. A more honest assessment would be that it’s nothing of the sort. Rather the last of the budget had been spunked on some special effect shots of futuristic bio-domes and it was time to call it a day – The Day the Budget Ended if you will.
What is most interesting about The Day Time Ended and the best reason for this new release from 88 Films, are the plentiful stop animation sequences. While not in the same superlative league as Ray Harryhausen, the work on display by Dave Allen, who would later receive some acclaim for Batteries Not Included, is chintzy and fun.
Also The Day Time Ended affords viewers the opportunity to witness the mega acting talents of the former Mrs. Shatner (Marcy Lafferty) and the son of Robert Mitchum, Christopher, who turns up in a pretty superfluous errant father role.
The Day Time Ended is not a film that I’ll be revisiting anytime soon, but maybe, just maybe if Grant Williams was right and we experience everything, past present and future simultaneously, then it’s not something I really have to worry about anyway.
Somewhere out in space-time I am still watching this cheesy film. Forever. For all time. What a frightening thought.
The Day Time Ended is out now – I’ll be honest, it sounds like a fantastic mess to me, not one to be missed.