Release Date(s)1964 (April 27, 2021)
Studio(s)American International Pictures (Scorpion Releasing/Kino Lorber)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: D-
Author and screenwriter Ib Melchior directed only two science fiction films, both of them quite memorable: The Angry Red Planet from 1959 and The Time Travelers from 1964. The latter initially appears to mostly be what science fiction movies were at that time on the surface, which usually involved a group of people in a strange new world surrounded by monsters. The Time Travelers is certainly that, but instead of a traditional outcome, we get one that’s considerably different, even downbeat, which sets it apart. It also relies on magic tricks instead of expensive visual special effects, though it still occasionally uses more economical miniatures, opticals, and prosthetic make-up as well. Many of its trappings are hokey, particularly the comic relief, and the characters are fairly one-dimensional, but the time travel logic is refreshingly sound and the performances are serviceable. Shot by the great Vilmos Zsigmond and featuring a deightful cameo by Forrest J. Ackerman, The Time Travelers definitely has more to offer than one might expect.
During an experiment, a group of scientists accidentally create a window through time. Able to step through, they discover a future that’s completely barren and overrun by mutants. After the window closes behind them, they’re stranded and turn to an underground society of scientists for help. They’re informed that the year is 2071 and that Earth was wiped out by nuclear destruction and the subsequent fallout. Concluding that the only way for the human species to survive is to leave Earth, the plan is to travel by rocket to the planet Alpha Centauri 4. With no other options, the newly-arrived scientists agree to go too. Always under constant threat from the mutants, they have a limited amount of time to leave, and if they fail, they must find a way back to their own time.
Scorpion Releasing and Kino Lorber bring The Time Travelers to Blu-ray for the first time using a “brand new 2020 2K scan,” presumably from an interpositive, in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It’s a naturally-appearing presentation that lacks any major clean-up. Moderate to heavy grain is apparent, depending on the length and frequency of the opticals. Detail is surprisingly high, despite occasional softness, with decent blacks and good contrast. The color palette is rich with a kaleidoscope of lush hues, though skin tones dip to extreme pink most of the time. It’s a fairly stable presentation as well. The biggest hurdle is the leftover damage. It isn’t overly distracting as the picture is clear and sharp most of the time, but frequent speckling, minor staining, and even scratches are all present. So it’s a strong presentation, but with a few obvious impurities.
The audio has been included in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA with optional subtitles in English SDH. For a mono-sourced track, it has a surprising amount of push when it comes to the score and the sound effects. Low end moments are recurrent and dialogue exchanges are discernible. The track is also, like its video counterpart, imperfect. It carries minor hiss, crackle, thumps, and a tad bit of distortion. There’s also a dropout at around the 0:34:33 mark. It’s an otherwise pleasant listen.
The following extras have been included:
- Trailer (HD – 2:25)
- Trackdown Trailer (HD – 2:53)
- The Beast with a Million Eyes Trailer (Upsampled SD – 1:08)
- Rollerball Trailer (HD – 2:56)
- Invisible Invaders (Upsampled SD – 2:00)
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of extras to speak of other than the film’s trailer and trailers for four other Scorpion Releasing and Kino Lorber titles. Not carried over from Shout! Factory and Timeless Media Group’s DVD release, which packaged the film with The Man from Planet X, Beyond the Time Barrier, and The Angry Red Planet, is a still gallery. Sorely absent is the Trailers from Hell commentary by Ib Melchior himself, and it might have also been a good time to acquire the services of someone like Tom Weaver for a nice scholarly commentary.
Having The Time Travelers on Blu-ray finally is more than welcome. It needs a bit more TLC in all respects, but it offers a presentation that's a pleasant upgrade over previous DVD editions. It's a nice disc overall, but a bit of clean-up and additional bonus value, particularly in an era where many films like it are getting the same kind of treatment, is definitely in order.
- Tim Salmons