Rifftrax Live returns this month with another foray into the world of bad cinema, this time discussing the 1994 time-travel adventure Time Chasers. Led by Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, the Rifftrax gang is back talking bad time travel, horrific office locations, and chimp firemen. Time Chasers and its Rifftrax presentation aren't the funniest or most memorable of the Rifftrax live events, but it will still put a smile on your face!
Time Chasers follows pilot Nick Miller (Matthew Bruch) who discovers the means of time travel. He makes a deal to sell his time travel "transport" to businessman J.K. Robertson (George Woodward) only to discover that the future is doomed because of it. Desperate to save the future, Nick and girlfriend Lisa (Bonnie Pritchard) have to find a way to stop what's fated to come.
Time Chasers has that gritty, low-budget 1990s feel, as if the director got the camera as a Christmas present. The gang pokes fun at the film's desires to mimic that more famous time-travel movie, Back to the Future. (In fact, a BTTF poster appears in the background when Nick and Lisa visit the post-apocalyptic world.) There's little rhyme or reason to the narrative short of Nick discovering time travel, selling it, and then trying to stop it from being sold. Despite the time machine being Nick's airplane, no one calls it a plane but a "transport," as if it's a code word for a secret club we're not privy to....or they didn't have the rights to the word "airplane."
This isn't the first time Time Chasers received the riff treatment, lampooned by the Rifftrax crew during Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997. Before the film, the group announced they were using several jokes from the original airing, as well as adding in jokes they originally cut for time. This could explain why this iteration of Time Chasers isn't as consistently funny as their newer work, nor is it as humorous as their previous-MST3K outings (my personal favorite being Werewolf). The older, less-known quality of the film leads to many jokes that are dated, deep cuts for those who truly remember the late-1990s.
The event isn't entirely devoid of laughs, just more subdued. There are some fantastic jokes made about the foyer used for J.K. Robertson's "office" - it looks like a lobby, and it was - and there are several critiques at leading man Matthew Bruch, who looks like the oldest pilot in history.
Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett continue to have great chemistry but they come alive more in the preceding short, Chimp the Fireman, a 1950s "educational" feature made by Castle Films. The story is as bare as can be....it's about a chimp who fancies himself a fireman. The Rifftrax gang are on fire during this, discussing how indulging the chimp probably led to several deaths, and more. It's always great when these obscure shorts are included before the feature since it allows our hosts to create short, controlled bursts of hilarity without running out of steam.
Time Chasers won't go down as the best Rifftrax Live event, nor is it the most memorable film they've done. Based on how low the turnout was for this at my theater, I'll be interested to see how many of these MST3K remakes they do. Either way, I'll be attending the next Rifftrax Live event - an MST3K reunion in June! - with bells on.
You can catch an encore presentation of Rifftrax Live: Time Chasers on May 17th. Visit Fathom Events for ticket info and theater details.