In 1957, the US Military hides a UFO in a hangar. President Eisenhower (Robert Beer) sees it and orders his men to get rid of it. In 1985, a high school senior, Michael Harlan (John Stockwell) who normally only cares about muscle cars, is looking for something for his science class project. He confers with his bookworm friend Ellie Sawyer (Danielle von Zerneck), who thinks they’re on a date, and they break into a government aircraft boneyard, where he finds a fallout shelter. Inside, there is a glowing globe of scientific equipment and he steals it.

The next day, he cleans it up in auto shop class and accidentally turns it on, causing it to absorb the power of a nearby boombox. His friend Vince Latello (Fisher Stevens) is unable to talk him out of wiring it to a car battery. It emits a swirl of color and creates an antique Greek vase, and the battery melts. They leave the shop for next class and discover that they have lost two hours of time and missed the science final.

Other strange things take place and Michael takes the gizmo to his ex-hippie science teacher Doctor Roberts (Dennis Hopper), who believes it is a portal to another dimension and plugs it into an electrical outlet. He soaks up the cosmic energy and contemplates the wonders of the universe for a while, then suddenly vanishes, leaving behind his peace symbol medallion. Michael is unable to unplug the gizmo and decides to take down the power lines.

Michael and Vincent get some dynamite from the back room of Michael’s father’s hardware store. They race to outrun a wave of energy travelling along the power lines, and they blow up the next tower, stopping the wave from reaching the power plant. But when they return to town, they are arrested regarding Doctor Roberts’ disappearance. Michael calls Ellie and asks her to go to the school and unplug the gizmo, thinking that showing it to the police will back up his unbelievable story. In school, she runs into the nerdy Sherman (Raphael Sbarge), who plugs it in again, creating a massive time warp at the school, blacking out the town and allowing Vince and Michael to escape from the police. They return to school and wander through a vortex of spacetime featuring objects and creatures from past and future. Sherman, terrified, tells them Ellie is in danger.

Dragging Sherman with them, Michael and Vince steal weapons from Vietnamese soldiers and try to get to the science lab, battling a T-Rex in the gym and a mob of post-apocalyptic mutants. They reach Ellie and deactivate the gizmo. Time returns to normal just as the police arrive. Then, Doctor Roberts reappears, after having enjoyed his day at Woodstock, and gives Michael an A on his science test. Roberts is then arrested by the Sheriff (Richard Masur) for blowing up the power lines, since his peace-sign medallion was found in the hardware store.

The film was directed by Jonathan R. Betuel. It did not perform as well as Back to the Future, Real Genius, and Weird Science, all released the same year, and was considered a failure. I thought it was a hoot, myself. It’s not as goofball as Weird Science and with its pretty good special effects, it almost seems believable. When Dennis Hopper returns from Woodstock, he is wearing the costume he wore in Easy Rider. He had just gotten out of rehab when he took the job. I think the name of Doctor Roberts must have come from the Beatles song. The script was rewritten fourteen times. John Stockwell is not related to Dean Stockwell, but I suspect the character name of Michael Harlan was inspired by Harlan Ellison. Danielle von Zerneck played Donna Ludwig, Ritchie Haven’s girlfriend in La Bamba.

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