Bridge Across Time (1985)

Rating: C-

Dir: E.W. Swackhamer
Star: David Hasselhoff, Stepfanie Kramer, Clu Gulager, Paul Rossilli
a.k.a. Terror at London Bridge

While neither the first nor the last movie to relocate Jack the Ripper to the present day, this may well do so in the the dumbest manner. Back in 1888, Jack was being chased by coppers and tried to flee across London Bridge, when he fell in, taking a stone from the facade with him, and was presumed to have drowned. A century later, the bridge was sold and relocated to Lake Havasu City in Arizona – minus the missing block. When that’s dredged out of the Thames, it’s sent over and re-installed. But after a tourist bleeds on it, this resurrects the spirit of Jack (Rossilli), who continues his murderous ways among the visitors and locals.

It’s up to local cop, Don Gregory (Hasselhoff) to figure out what’s going on. Though if that wasn’t enough, he also has to handle the PTSD that got him transferred out of Chicago, after he shot an unarmed man, and handle a romantic dalliance with local boat rental agent Angie (Kramer). I was expecting him to go for sexy librarian Lynn, considering she’s played by the recently ex-Mrs. John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau. But I guess Kramer was likely a bigger name at the time, being a star in crime drama Hunter. The cast also includes Randolph Mantooth, Rose Marie and Gulager as Gregory’s boss, Chief Peter Dawson, who says things like, “You make one more wrong step, just one, you gotta go.”

Seeing all these familiar names e.g. this was made the same year Gulager starred in The Return of the Living Dead, is likely the best element this TV movie has to offer. There is a fun drinking game to be had, if you take a swig each scene in which the Hoff’s shirt has more buttons undone than necessary. That would be most of them, which can’t have been fun for Barbeau, who at 5’2″ is basically at chest-hair level for their scenes together. It is kinda cute to see Lake Havasu City at this point, when it was still not much more than a stop on the way to Vegas. Its population now is triple what it was, though is perhaps lower, due to the tragic events of 2009.

The script is probably the main problem, diverting too often from the core story. There are also dangling threads, like a red herring Brit, whose presence, purpose and eventual fate are left unexplained. We do get a Jaws-like subplot, with a local councilman who refuses to close the tourist attractions and says, “Public safety is your responsibility. It is not mine.” Even with this, there’s perhaps forty minutes of interesting content over the course of the hour and a half running-time. It feels as if the film is embarrassed by its own central concept, when it actually needs to take the lunacy of the idea, and embrace it with both arms. While the results might not have been “better”, they would certainly have been less bland.