Full Moon Features: TRANCERS
TRANCERS IS THE GREATEST SCI-FI B-MOVIE OF ALL TIME!
(Listen, everything I say here is basically leading up to that conclusion and rather than try to contain my feelings, I think it’s healthier just to go ahead and get them out in the open.)
Back before Full Moon Entertainment was even a thing, Prince of the B-movies, Charles Band, was growing frustrated with being pushed around by major Hollywood studios. He knew the independent horror/fantasy/sci-fi market was beginning to truly blossom and he envisioned a company that worked like (and rivaled) those big budget studios while still allowing him the creative freedom he desired. So, in 1983, a little production company called Empire Pictures was born. Small but still capable of producing theatrical releases, they made some great classic films you may have heard of: Re-Animator, From Beyond, TerrorVision, and Ghoulies are just a few of those gems.
However, they also gave us what I firmly believe is the greatest sci-fi B-movie ever made: Trancers!
Trancers begins in the year 2247 where criminal mastermind Martin Whistler has created a way to use psychic powers to control the minds of innocent victims, turning them into seemingly innocent human weapons he calls “trancers”. Jack Deth is a trancer hunter who can identify trancers with a special bracelet and eliminate them. He has spent years hunting Whistler, and just when Jack thinks he has finally caught him, the governing council to whom he reports informs him that Whistler escaped by using some of that “Hollywood Movie Magic” to transport his consciousness into the body of one of his ancestors in 1985. The only way to travel through time is to use the body of a blood relative and luckily Jack has a journalist ancestor named Phil so the council sends him back. Once in 1985, Jack immediately meets Phil’s beautiful, punk-rock girlfriend who needs a bit of convincing when it comes to Jack’s story. After a couple of violent run-ins with some trancers, she decides to help him eliminate Whistler’s bloodline as they quickly find out that Whistler has been doing the same thing to the ancestors of the future governing council... so begins a race to beat each other at their own game!
I managed to overlook this movie until just a few weeks ago and let me tell you: I seriously missed out. Still, better late than never because this movie is AMAZING! Sure, it’s clearly a rip-off of The Terminator meets Blade Runner (amongst others) but as someone who prefers B-movies to mainstream cinema this is the ultimate B-movie mashup of said movies! Trancers is presented with a somewhat film noir approach with main character narration and seedy locations and I feel like that lower budget only helps invoke the style of those 40’s films. Plus, blending that style with the neon flash trash of the 80’s is just one of my favorite aesthetics ever and a big part why this film works so much.
The other key factor? Tim Thomerson’s portrayal of Jack Deth aka my new favorite crime fighting future cop of ALL TIME. The name might sound silly (and the movie even acknowledges that) but I assure you, Thomerson’s take on it, complete with trench coat and slicked back hair (because “dry hair’s for squids”), is just brilliant. He plays the scuzzy hero like nobody’s business and he is the perfect “rough and hunky” B-movie star. He wields his weapon with ease and he’s equally at home kicking ass and spitting out one-liners and I am HERE for it. Seriously, email me for more information on the “Totally Shameless Tim Thomerson/Jack Deth Fanboy Worship Club” because I may be the president of said club.
If Thomerson isn’t enough for you, then I’m giving you some major side eye...but IF he’s not, then he has a truly awesome supporting cast to surround him. Helen Hunt (yes, THAT one) plays the girlfriend and she’s totally adorable… AND gets major props for returning in two sequels (which I’ll get to in a minute) even after her career had taken off. Shades of Jamie Lee Curtis, amiright? In addition, Art LaFleur gives a winning performance as a fellow trancer Hunter McNulty, and Alyson Croft makes a hysterical debut as the 12 year old ancestor that McNulty’s consciousness gets stuck in. The always amiable Telma Hopkins stars as the scientist who operates all that “Hollywood Movie Magic” time travel stuff and she also returns for multiple sequels which just speaks to how much fun it must have been to make these movies.
Speaking of sequels, I make no secret that I fully embrace as many sequels as possible, good or bad (or so bad they’re good), they are just a way to keep loving a great film and Trancers has five of them. That’s five times the love and five times the fun, fam!
I absolutely recommend checking this movie out. It’s got action, an outrageous sci-fi story, time travel, fun villains, and most importantly, it has Jack “Motherfucking” Deth. I simply can’t believe you wouldn’t have a good time with all this awesomeness, and personally, with all those sequels, I’m in it for the long haul and that makes me so incredibly happy.