Timerider (1982)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, Ed Lauter, Richard Masur
Extras: Commentary Track, Trailers, TV Spots

It seems that time travel is one of those rare movie concepts that never goes stale. The combination of a fish out of water and the various theories concerning the dire consequences on the future of a romp in past make it possible for every time travel movie to offer its own unique slant. 1982’s ’Timerider’ is something of a cult classic that is now available in a fine DVD edition from the folks at Anchor Bay.

A joint project between producer/co-writer/composer Michael Nesmith (yes, the ex-Monkee) and co-writer/director William Dear, ’Timerider’ is a low-budget adventure that blithely ignores the larger questions associated with time travel in favor of offering up a flat-out fun movie.

Fred Ward stars as Lyle Swann, a motorcycle racer tearing through the desert of Baja on his customized bike as part of an endurance race. Accidently stumbling upon a top-secret time travel experiment Swann is zapped back to 1877. Not realizing what has happened, Swann finds himself pursued by a band of outlaws intent on capturing his magical machine. Finding refuge in a small village run by an unscrupulous padre, Swann meets the lovely Claire Cygne (Belinda Bauer). But bad guy Porter Reese (Peter Coyote) is hot on his trail and he has to survive long enough to save the day and still get back to his own time.

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, ’Timerider’ appears on DVD with a splendid video transfer. The overall image is fairly sharp with vibrant colors and accurate black levels. There is a constant degree of fine film grain with a handful of scenes appearing a little the worse for wear. Starting at about the 46-minute mark a very small vertical green line appears at the top of the screen and stays there for just over ten minutes but it isn’t terribly bothersome. Heck, the movie probably didn’t look this good during its brief theatrical run.

Audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and 5.1 mixes courtesy of Chace Digital Stereo. Dialogue is firmly anchored to the center while the snazzy synthesizer score and sound effects are given room to breathe. Some of the rear effects are a bit too pronounced but on the whole the soundtrack is well-balanced and sounds quite good.

Director William Dear contributes a commentary track that is full of interesting details. Not afraid to point out the many flaws in the film, Dear is nevertheless clearly happy with the movie and the wider audience it found when it was first released on video. Also included are theatrical trailers and a handful of TV spots.

’Timerider’ is a bit light on the details but the performances are all energetic and the script is filled with enough action and humor to keep most viewers engaged. I usually find myself pondering the deeper issues surrounding time travel and it was necessary here to turn a less critical eye to the story. Viewers able to resist asking the countless ’what-ifs’ should find ’Timerider’ to be an enjoyable little film. Anchor Bay’s new DVD offers up a fine technical presentation as well as a very nice commentary track.