Monday, July 29, 2013


The 1979 Charles Band production, The Day Time Ended, isn't so much a movie as it is a showreel for some of the era's most talented special effects artist. There's no plot to speak of; there's just a series of disconnected events, each designed to showcase one special effects technique or another.

The story, such as it is, is this: a family moves into its new, isolated desert home on the same day that astronomers witness an unprecedented triple supernova some 200 light years away from Earth. Somehow - it's never really explained adequately - they find themselves in the center of a violent space-time "vortex" and besieged by UFOs, strange (stop-motion) creatures, menacing machines, and a wide variety of glowing lights. It's basically Poltergeist with a sci-fi rather than supernatural basis, but far less narratively coherent.

The cast, led by Hollywood veterans Jim Davis (Dallas) and Dorothy Malone, gamely give it their best, but since most of the time they're reacting to effects that will be created in post, thta's not saying too much. The direction by John "Bud" Cardos (Kingdom Of The Spiders, The Dark) is likewise workmanlike, but one gets the sense that nobody involved - neither cast nor crew - quite knew what the story was supposed to be about.

The movie's saving grace is the aforementioned special effects, a virtual buffet of pre-digital cinematic illusions by some of the best freelance FX guys of the era. There's some terrific stop-motion creatures designed by Lyle Conway and animated by David Allen and Randy Cook; lots of optical rays and zipping ghost lights by Peter Kuran and crew; and some gorgeous matte paintings by Jim Danforth.

As a fan of Old School analog effects work, I do enjoy The Day Time Ended (a title nearly as nonsensical as its story - it was shot under the name Vortex, which is at least a little more apt), but every time I see it, I can't help but shake my head at the non-sequitur-riddled script. It's a weird one, that's for sure.

 The movie was released to theaters in 1979, and subsequently made its way to VHS under several labels over the next couple of decades. I own it on the laserdisc issued in the mid-90s, which sports a decent, if pan & scan, 4x3 full-frame image. I understand that it is also available on a DVD of somewhat questionable provenance. (If you have a Roku or other streaming device, it is also available for free on the Threshold online movie channel, though their presentation looks like it's straight from the VHS.)


  1. This is available on DVD at Netflix, I've added it to my queue, thanks for the heads up!

  2. Don't think I've ever heard of this one but it sounds interesting enough.

  3. AAAAAHH! I'd almost forgotten about this, even though I picked up a VHS copy years ago (and currently have no VCR to watch it!).

    My dad and I watched this on cable tv late one weekend, and thought it was cool, if a bit disjointed. We both figured that it had scenes edited out for commercials or something, and were always on the lookout for an unedited copy.

    Flash forward a decade or so, when I found that VHS copy. I was into LaserDisc, and just starting to convert to DVD, but I could at the time only find the VHS version of this movie. "Well," I thought, "better that than nothing." I watched it that night and was taken back all those years, and was surprised that this 'uncut' version was just as choppy as the cable tv broadcast; it hadn't been butchered all those years before to make room for commercials!

    The writer in me can mostly 'fill in the gaps' and discern something of a plot out of the strangeness (it did, after all, involve multiple time-jumps going on simultaneously, with some characters moving/jumping at different rates than others). I still suspect that there were supposed to be more scenes that would have made for a more coherent story, but perhaps they never got filmed or else got lost before the final edit.

    Ah, well. A fun popcorn flick for those who like old school SFX. Oh, also, the woman who played Chief DiFalco in Star Trek: The Motion Picture is in this film... (forgot her name)she has far more lines & scenes than she did in ST.


  4. I had this on laserdisc several years ago, but have since replaced it with the DVD edition put out by Cult Video. Best when watched along with End of the World, Laserblast or Planet of the Dinosaurs.