Two friends are put up against each other as one of them invents a time machine, and the other one travels back in time to change the past, which is a big risk considering how unstable time traveling can be.
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In 1964, a team of scientists are trying to develop a view screen into the future. What they in fact get is a portal and they soon find themselves on the other side, 127 years into the future when the portal collapses. The Earth of the future is barren and they are soon attacked by mutated humans but rescued by a group of scientists who are building a spaceship to take them to a new planet. They learn that much of Earth was destroyed as the result of a nuclear war. When it's determined that the visitors from the past cannot be included in the planned voyage, they work furiously to rebuild the portal and return to their own time before departure day. Meanwhile, always under the threat of attack from the mutants , friendships are formed and they learn of life in the future including the use of robots for menial tasks. Written by
Highly imaginative time travel saga from the Sixties
Three scientists and the inevitable everyday Joe are catapulted over a hundred years into the future by a lab accident, into a post-apocalyptic nightmare in which atomic war has devastated the planet. Pursued by a band of savage mutants, they're rescued by the last few humans, a small group of scientists and technicians engaged in a race against time to construct a starship and get away before the more numerous mutants can break through their defenses.
None of these elements is particularly new to the genre, but writer/director Ib Melchior manages to combine them into a fairly entertaining and occasionally original piece of "upper low-budget" sf cinema. This isn't to say that the pace doesn't occasionally lag a bit toward the middle, with some sequences feeling like they were inserted just to pad out the running time. (Like a totally unnecessary scene devoted to what's supposed to be a demonstration of their futuristic "matter transmitter", which is clearly just a stage magician's prop.)
Mostly, though, there's scarcely a moment wasted in exposition or character development, as the story barrels along to its truly unique conclusion.
Set design, miniatures, costuming and makeup -- particularly the androids -- are surprisingly good, for its budget. The optical effects are sparse but imaginative. Though it's early in his distinguished career, having Vilmos Zsigmond behind the camera also contributes considerably to making this a much more polished and expensive-looking production than you'd normally expect to see from American International.
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