Time Chasers (aka Tangents) is a 1994 science fiction film directed by David Giancola and starring Matthew Bruch, George Woodard, and Bonnie Pritchard. The film follows the adventures of an amateur inventor who goes through time with his female accomplice to stop an evil megacorporation intent on changing history for profit. The film was lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) in 1997.
Physics teacher and amateur pilot Nick Miller (Matthew Bruch) has finally completed his quest of enabling time travel, via a Commodore 64 and his small airplane. After being inspired by a television commercial for GenCorp, he uses a ruse to bring out both a GenCorp executive and a reporter from a local paper. To Nick’s surprise, the reporter is Lisa Hansen (Bonnie Pritchard), an old high school flame. One trip to 2041 later and Gencorp’s executive, Matthew Paul (Peter Harrington), quickly arranges Nick a meeting with CEO J.K. Robertson (George Woodard). Impressed by the potential of time travel, Roberston offers Nick a licensing agreement on the technology.
Later in the week, Nick and Lisa meet at the supermarket and go on a date to the 1950s. However, another trip to 2041 reveals that GenCorp abused Nick’s time travel technology and destroyed the future. Nick and Lisa’s efforts to reverse the damage take up the remainder of the film. This ultimately culminates in a fight in 1777 during the American Revolution, the deaths of the present Nick, Lisa, Matt, and Robertson, and the destruction of the time machine before the original demo, thus ensuring that the majority of the film’s events never happen in the first place. The film ends with a past Nick (now aware of the danger of his time machine) sabotaging his demonstration, getting Matt fired, and again meeting Lisa in the supermarket as he did in the previous timeline.
The production was shot in the Rutland, Vermont area in summer 1990, though it has a distinctive assortment of mid-1980s cultural artifacts, sets, and props. It was made on a $150,000 budget by 20-year old director David Giancola and his company Edgewood Studios. The film initially lost money, but licensing fees for its 1997 Mystery Science Theater 3000 appearance took its earnings out of the red.
Some sources claim that the GenCorp executive’s desk is actually at the top of the stairs at Castleton State College near Rutland, but other sources claim it was filmed at the Rutland Opera House; director David Giancola says that “it was a combination of both the offices and studios of radio station WJJR 98.1 and The Howard Bank. The grocery store scene was shot inside Martins, an actual grocery chain which eventually became Hannafords and moved to another part of town. The former Martins site (formerly the Rutland Mall) is now where Big Lots exists, inside the Home Depot complex. The exteriors were of the local power utility, VELCO.” When heckling it, the MST3K crew lampooned it as being in a public library and featuring a “giant circus mirror.”
For the showing on MST3K, the cast and crew had a reunion party to view the lampooning. MST3K star Mike Nelson claims that some at the party were not happy at the mocking, in particular Peter Harrington. Director Giancola said they all “laughed their asses off,” but also admitted that some people at the time “took it a bit too seriously.”
A stray comment on the MST3K version led to this film incorrectly appearing on the IMDB profile for Lisa Kudrow for a number of years. The role of “worshipful one” is actually played by Vicky A. Bourn, in her one and only film role.
In 2004, when asked if he was considering a sequel, Giancola said: “We don’t have any plans for a sequel, there have been so many time travel films since covering the same material, I don’t feel I have anything new to add.”