The 6 Weirdest Time Machines From Movies

Monday, January 28 by Lee Keeler

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Turning forward/back the sands of time has been a fictional concept that dates back to stories like “A Christmas Carol,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and other classics. But it takes the magic of celluloid to make such a premise truly insane. Set your watches, it’s time to traverse our collection of The Six Weirdest Time Machines from Movies!

1. The DeLorean – “Back to the Future” (1985)

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A little-known factoid: the original time machine in the script for “Back to the Future” was meant to be a refrigerator. Studio execs worried that kids were going to start locking themselves into the airtight home appliances, so writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale went with a Delorean.The switch to the stainless steel car was good for the budget and launched the vehicle from cult to icon status.

 

2. The Necklace – “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004)

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Hermione Granger takes on such an enormous class load that Professor McGonagall hooks her up with a Time Turner, a necklace that allows the wearer to travel forward or backward in time a few hours. This is what happens when you send a kid to a proper academy. If Hermione were at a state school she would’ve just been given some bathtub crank and/or adderall to keep her going. But then she would’ve had to conjure up some magic foundation to cover up the sores that would’ve started forming on her face or something.

 

3. The Jacuzzi – “Hot Tub Time Machine” (2010)

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The genius of this 80’s retro comedy is that it doesn’t pretend to be something that it’s not. The main device, juvenile and fantastic, is used to bookend the conflict of the movie, like a stoned middle-school version of the house in “The Wizard of Oz“. While it accomplished little to improve the popularity of its namesake product, “Hot Tub” stands as an underrated romp amongst a raging sea of Adam McKay/Will Ferrell/Judd Apatow same-old same-old. And the denouement satisfies what you’ve always wanted to see at the end of time-travel fantasy.

4. The British Phone Booth – “Dr. Who and the Daleks” (1965)

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Hardcore Who-vians will tighten their Tom Baker scarves and point out that “Dr. Who and the Daleks” isn’t canon to the franchise. Be that as it may, the film stands as the big screen premiere of the TARDIS, the most recognizable and enduring icon of Who mythology. The TARDIS, another time travel device that was the product of budget limitations, supposedly employs a “chameleon circuit” allowing it to blend in with its surroundings. The damn thing has been on the fritz for fifty years, leaving the Doctor riding around in a phone booth from 1963 London; it’s about time the jerks on Gallifrey got a repair shop in order.

 

5. The Airboat – “Safety Not Guaranteed” (2012)

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This isn’t the first time a time traveler has been confused for being a wacko (See “12 Monkeys,” “The Terminator,” etc.), but Mark Duplass uses the low-budget docu-drama style to his advantage here. Where “Looper” stylishly portrays time travel as an absolute certainty, Duplass and Co. deliver just enough distractions to make you believe the Kenneth, a small-town store clerk, truly is a crazy guy trying to fulfill a ridiculous fantasy. You’ll never look at one of those goofy fan-boats used in Everglade sequences the same way again.

 

6. The American Phone Booth – “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989)

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These time travel flicks run in a small pack. Case in point: the time machine in “Bill & Ted” was originally meant to be a 1969 Chevy van, but the concept was nixed when it was deemed too similar to the DeLorean used in “Back to the Future”. When confronted with ripping off the phone booth concept from Dr. Who, the makers of “Bill & Ted” didn’t lose any sleep over a franchise that was (at the time) on the other side of the pond and would surely never be popular in the States, right? Riiiiiiiight. A time-traveling phone booth war would be the ultimate mash-up…most excellent!