Michel Sargent, contributor
Speculative films have contributed to our collective consciousness numerous transit contraptions and myriad styles of hover vehicles, dimensional portals, time machines, teleportation, and spacecraft. Some are clever but many are ridiculous.
Hover vehicles aren’t that interesting. You can’t really mess that up, same with teleportation and spacecraft. I’ve never seen badly done spacecraft. Even Ed Wood’s pie tins in Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) were brilliant, though somewhat dangling. Other interstellar standouts are the cannon propelled spaceship into the iconic eye of the moon in Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) and the flying suit from King of Rocket Men (1949).
You never know what’s going to happen when you build a dimensional portal. In Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1984), Richard “Apollo” Hatch (from OG Battlestar Galactica) and companions accidentally earthquake their way into a parallel universe that mixes medieval and modern technology with a green dude, goblins and troglodyte cannibals. The Day Time Ended (1980) takes the stranger road to vortex travel by placing a house on a time rift (damn those triple supernovas!) and pitting a three generational family against marauding stop-action prehistoric monsters, alien creatures and UFOs (including a deadly flying camcorder). After traveling stationary through multiple time dimensions the family finally packs up and hoofs it to the domed city in the distance because, “There must be a purpose to all of this” (says grandpa).
Time machines can be built from just about anything: a police box, any sort of moving or stationary vehicle, and even cool looking steampunk contraptions; but the worst device ever is the “Spear of Destiny.” In Future Hunters (1988), the very spear that stabbed crucified Jesus has time-travel capabilities. Some fellow in a Mad Max-style future must find the spearhead in order to travel back to 1989 where the shaft is hidden and change the future to something less apocalyptic. Fifteen minutes later our future hunter is mortally wounded in 1989 and passes the head onto Robert Patrick, who’s not of afraid to act badly in tighty whiteys. There’s also a fake Bruce Lee (Bruce Li) martial arts battle, Nazi bad guys, and an Indonesian man tribe of little people enlisted to battle an “Amazon” tribe of Indonesian women. What a trip!