In Idaho on the “Craters of the Moon” lava fields a government facility was commissioned to create matter transference capabilities or teleportation. What they managed to do instead was create a time machine. With the transference devise they were able to send people fifty-six years in the future. What they also discovered in the future was that some type of apocalyptic event occurred and, as far as they know, mankind was wiped out. The team used the devise to try to discover what happened. With government people questioning what was going on at the facility the team was running out of time.
One drawback with the devise was that anyone over twenty couldn’t stand the transfer process and complications would cause their kidneys to rupture thereby killing them. Only young people were sent into the future to investigate what happened and to document the ecological effects of whatever it was.
Karen Braden (Kelley Bohanon) is the newest addition to the team. Her sister Isa (Caroline Hildebrand) is already involved and their father George (Ted D’Arms) is the project leader. Now that they are aware of the pending disaster the mission of the project has changed. They plan on sending young people into the future to restart civilization. Isa gets injured in the lava field. Karen accidentally kills her sister while transferring back to current time. The death of Isa affects Karen deeply. She goes back to the future and basically withdraws into herself.
When the government takes over the project they turn off the machines. The teens race to supply themselves and escape into the future. With no help from the past they must find a way to survive in a desolate future and repopulate the Earth. Things don’t go as planned.
“Idaho Transfer” was released in 1973 and was directed by Peter Fonda. This is the only film that Fonda directed but did not appear in. The film was produced by Pando Company, which is owned by Peter Fonda. The film was released theatrically in 1973 for only a short time. Supposedly the distributor, Cinemation Industries, went bankrupt during the first week the film was released. In 1988 the film resurfaced on video. It is of the low budget variety of science fiction.
I have a problem with apocalyptic films. They are usually boring. This one, for the most part, is no exception. They are usually also confusing. Filmmakers have a tendency to make the future ambiguous. Again, bingo. In this one the ones that end up going into the future are teenagers. Teenagers are ill equipped to handle an unknown future. They don’t have enough experience to know what to do so their emotions take over. That makes them annoying. It also means they have no supervision and a futuristic “Lord of the Flies” may not be too far away. OK so I wouldn’t fare any better. It’s still boring.
Most of the cast were unknowns. And it shows. The acting is bad. Keith Carradine is the only real young actor but he doesn’t have a lot of screen time. Because the acting is bad it’s easy to miss some of the dialogue and if you miss something said in passing that is essential to the plot then it’s easy to be confused. Despite the fact that most of the movie is boring the ending is haunting if you understand it.
The film takes place in 1973 so fifty-six years in the future would be 2029. So between now and 2029 something catastrophic will happen that will result in an apocalypse. What it is, is not mentioned in the movie but I have my ideas. Perhaps some kind of pandemic? The movie is thought provoking. The idea behind the film is a good one, but most of it got lost in mundane acting and time chewing walking montages. Plus I hated the kids. The only one I remotely liked was Isa and she died chocking on her own vomit. One of the few gross things in the movie.
Fonda was thirty-two when he made the film. It has lapsed into the universe of the public domain.