Hello, friends in time, and welcome to a regular feature on Cinema 52 where I put my weekly viewing of Back to the Future on hold and watch another movie featuring time travel for comparison. It may not keep me sane, but it will probably always involve one guy shouting, “This doesn’t make any sense!” And that’s good enough for me.

TIMERIDER: THE ADVENTURE OF LYLE SWANN (1982)

time rider

It’s time to level with you nice people; just don’t watch this movie. Trust me, you already know if you’re going to see it from the moment I tell you not to. It’s in your nature. But believe me, even if you love seeking out terrible movies and having a laugh at them, this just isn’t good in any sense of the word. I’m going to spoiler the entire thing because, if I don’t, there’s nothing to write about. This is a boring, pointless anti-movie. It came up with one (1) premise and one (1) twist ending and called it a fucking day.

If you’re never going to watch it, you have chosen wisely and may finish this article. If you’re already putting on pants so you can head to the movie store, read no further. I’d hate to lessen the surging, life-affirming rush of hatred that only Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann can provide people of your ilk/fetish community.

THE STORY:
None to fucking speak of, but here’s the premise: Lyle Swann (Fred Ward) is an off-road motorbike racer who accidentally drives through a time travel experiment being conducted in the middle of the desert. He is zapped back to the Old West, which is apparently the most boring time period in all of history.

THERE IS NO STORY HERE. I mean, his bike gets stolen by a bad guy (Peter Coyote) and his gang of thugs, and he has to get it back, but that’s kinda it. His main objective is to find his way back onto the racetrack. What’s that, you say? Shouldn’t his goal be to get back to his own time? Nope, he never figures out he’s in the 1800s. He just thinks he found a really old, backwards-ass village in the desert.

“Oh, that could be kind of funny, if–” NO. IT’S NOT. Whatever you think this movie is, you’re wrong. You hear the premise, you say, “Oh, man, this will be full of ’80s radness, and it’ll have cool shots of a motorbike next to cowboys on horseback, and I can laugh at it…”

STOP. STOP TALKING. YOU WEREN’T THERE. YOU DIDN’T SEE.

Here’s Fred Ward in Tremors. It’s a better movie. Watch that instead. I beg you.

THE ACTING:
I’m doing everyone involved a favor by not reminding them of this ordeal. Nobody in this movie is having fun, and I can’t imagine they enjoy it when some asshole brings it up on the street. Both Fred Ward and Peter Coyote are forty years my senior, but I still know they could beat my ass into a fine powder, fueled only by their seething contempt for Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann.

Remember Peter Coyote in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? Pretty great. Rent that this weekend.

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Just… no.

Belinda Bauer was in RoboCop 2. That’s a movie!

OTHER STUFF:

  • Remember that Goobacks episode of South Park? There’s a joke about how the time travel rules in Timerider are “just plain silly.” Yeah, “just plain silly” sounds sort of watchable, doesn’t it? You don’t need to fact-check this joke.
  • After just meeting him, Belinda Bauer’s character, Claire, pulls a gun on Lyle, then tells him to take off his clothes and fuck her. Really. This happens. He goes through with it. Are we supposed to be okay with this because she is pretty? Rape at gunpoint, ’80s masturbatory fantasy, six of one, amirite?
  • Lyle’s helmet has futuristic space binoculars in it that absolutely did not exist in the ’80s. Also, there’s a switch that makes the visor go up and down repeatedly in case of a cowboy hijinks deficiency. No. Not even worth watching to mock it.

THE “NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE!” MOMENT:
Brace yourself for this shit. So the entire movie, Lyle has no idea that he’s actually in the past. In the film’s ridiculous climax, the previously cautious scientists just straight-up send a goddamn helicopter back in time to get Lyle. The back rotor shreds Peter Coyote to a pile of boots and bloody leg-meats, then Lyle gets to the chopper to make his escape. He tries to get Claire to come with, but a scientist insists they must return to their own time immediately. As the copter flies away, Claire steals a pendant from around Lyle’s neck, at which point he has the follow revelation in a fucking voice-over because the movie really is this poorly made:

“My grandmother stole it from him, as a reminder of one incredible night they had together. He took off, and she went to L.A. to find him, but never did. She started her own business, nobody knows what… least, they ain’t sayin’… and became the great matriarch of the Swann clan. Anyway, supposed to bring me luck.”

Yes. This is the big reveal you’ve just deprived yourself of. Your life has no meaning now.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
You absolutely shouldn’t bother with this movie, even if it’s available on Hulu. Oh shi–

LATER THIS WEEK:
Idaho Transfer (1973)

Want more time travel? Head on over to the Time Out archive.