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"Trancers" is one of the most enjoyable B-movies ever made. The time travel
plot and "fish-out-of-water" aspects make it similar to the first
"Terminator," but try to imagine that classic film with an infinitely lower
budget and a more highly developed sense of humor. On some days, I probably
prefer the wisecracking antics of "Trancers" star Tim Thomerson to the
earnestness of Michal Biehn in Cameron's film; in this instance, cheaper
production values and more obscure actors do not necessarily equal an
Thomerson is, without a doubt, the glue that holds the whole silly series together. He's a performer, not an actor. He entertains without emoting. And hey, for this material, that's fine. In fact, that's the bomb. He could read his lines right off the page in a monotone, and you'd still want to stand up and cheer.
The only flaw in this film is a slightly boring villain, but everything else is cool - check out Helen Hunt as some kind of trashy '80s biker chick. Best scene? When Thomerson beats up the stupid punks in the disco.
Overall, an effective blend of the sci-fi and detective genres, and a good indicator of what imagination and a good sense of humor can accomplish in the absence of cash.
I remember renting this superb Sci-Fi movie back in the late 80s. I'd only had a VCR for about a year and this renting video titles lark was still very exciting for me. Trancers was one of my favorites at the time and still is to this day. It stood the test of time. Speaking of time, that's what this movie is all about. Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson in great form) travels back in time to stop Whistler who created the kill-crazy 'Trancers.' A terrific sci-fi action movie that, despite being low-budget, never fails to thrill. I haven't been able to find it on DVD as yet but I'm ever alert. I hope to get it and its 5 sequels in a box-set. If not I'd happily settle for 'Trancers' on its own...
When one thinks of a B-Movie, one thinks of low-budget, awfully SFX,
bad actors, and plots that border idiocy. Well, this little underrated
gem surely will erase any preconception you have about it as soon as it
Starring Helen Hunt in one of her first roles, this movie has turned into one of the most popular cult movies, and helped to establish Charles Band as a figure in the genre.
The story is quite simple: 300 years in the future, in Los Angeles(now called Angel City), Trancers are people who were controlled by a terrorist named Whistler. He developed a mind-controlling technique that allowed him to turn people with weak minds into mindless zombies. A detective, Jack Deth, apparently killed him, but in fact Whistler traveled to the past using a machine that allows him to inhabit the body of one of his ancestors. His purpose? To kill the ancestors of the government of Angel City.
As you can imagine, Jack Deth is sent to the past inhabiting the body of his ancestor too, who happens to be a reporter. What makes things interesting is that Whistler's ancestor is the chief of the police department of Los Angeles.
Even with it's striking similitude with Cameron's "The Terminator", the movie manages to be very entertaining, at times it even is more enjoyable that "Terminator".
This is possible thanks to the very good performances of Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth, and Helent Hunt as Lena, Deth ancestor's girlfriend. They have a very good chemistry and the way Thomerson developed the character puts Deth in the same league as beloved B-Movie heroes like "Evil Dead"'s Ash.
The movie is for the most part very well developed, an achievement considering the budget it had. Even when the script has many plot holes, the whole thing is so entertaining that one ends up ignoring them. Now, that is what good movies must do.
Obviously, the SFX is not the best, but the movie's lack of pretensions makes it charming, and very rewarding. In the end this is definitely not your typical b-movie and surely will give you 77 minutes of joy. My only complain is that it is definitely very short. Very recommended.
This low, low budget sci-fier is somewhat derivative, but it's kind of
a take-off on Bladerunner-type movies, rather than a ripoff of them.
Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is a detective in the future who's sent back
to 1985 to stop a madman who's decided to kill the ancestors of the
city council of Deth's time. With the help of Lena (a young Helen
Hunt), Deth fights Trancers (who have fallen under the control of the
madman) and his own culture shock.
It's a short movie (76 minutes), and things move pretty quickly; plot isn't so much of a focus as a annoying gnat that appears from time to time. But for being so short, the characters are pretty well developed - and one huge bonus is that Deth isn't an no necked, shoot-first idiot, as renegade cops are often portrayed.
Trancers is original, often-funny sci-fi cheese. It's great to see Thomerson and Hunt - especially Hunt, who looks great.
This sci-fi entry comes across as a charmingly trashy amalgam of BLADE
RUNNER (1982) and THE TERMINATOR (1984) not as good as either, sure,
but arguably more entertaining. It involves an unshaven, raincoat-clad
police detective from the 23rd century (the film, in fact, was
re-issued as FUTURE COP) chasing the leader of a group of Trancers
(gullible "squibs" who turn vicious and expire fluorescently in a pile
of ashes) back to the present day, where the latter intends to
exterminate the ancestors of the three council members who brought
about his downfall.
Except for a young Helen Hunt, I was unfamiliar with the main cast though craggy-faced lead Tim Thomerson evokes the perfect blend of machismo, world-weariness and bewilderment the role requires. The film is also refreshingly tongue-in-cheek with the funniest bits being the hard-boiled hero lighting a match against his own teeth and when, on entering a discotheque frequented by punk rockers, he deadpans "It looks like a room full of Trancers to me". As a matter of fact, the sharply-written script has a fair amount of amusing one-liners: when Thomerson complains about the implausibility of a name like Peter Gunn upon catching an episode of the vintage series on TV, Hunt quips, "What kind of a name is Jack Deth?" (i.e. the character played by Thomerson himself).
While the special effects afforded by the modest budget could best be described as quaint, the action sequences are adequate enough including a couple in which the hero manages to halt time (via a James Bond-like gadget wrist-watch) in order to flee the presence of Trancers who have him cornered and, then, to save the heroine from certain death. Though perhaps too low-key for its own good and somewhat under-developed at 76 minutes, the film seems to be deserving of a cult reputation (for what it's worth, it was followed by two sequels also featuring Thomerson) but, alas, hasn't been served at all well by the DVD format so far (this viewing came by way of the no-frills fullscreen R2 edition from a budget label). I, for one, wouldn't be averse to a more exhaustively packaged and properly framed re-issue...
His Empire May Have Crumbled And the Full Moon might have slightly dipped
behind the shadows, but Charles's Band's Legacy of Classics will always
begin and end with this vision of Jack Deth, a rogue cop fighting for his
right to live and breath in the city of angels in the year
My first introduction to the cinema of Charles Band began with the Low Budget riff on Gremlins in the shape of Ghoulies, nothing that great, just a slight distraction for eighty odd minutes, now this being the 1980's the video shops were littered with all sorts of mindless dreck cluttering up the shelves, and being of an age, with an enquiring mind, in short and even still to this day, a sucker for a good looking cover i stumbled upon Trancers, not really knowing that it was made by the same producer.
Now Comparisons have been made down through the years, that Band was lurking in the shadows of Roger Corman as the pretender to the thrown as King of the B Picture, Alas my own take on that notion, is that Corman was from another time and age, that while he still maintains a presence in the Low Budget Genre Market with all the Various Dinosaurs, Carnosaurs and bubble headed Muscleman pictures, Charles Band was the man with plan and so it was, and so it began with Trancers.
Now everyone seems to think that this movie should be compared to the likes of The Terminator, However remember this being the 80's what film didn't compare just a little like something they had just watched. This Movie written by the combo partnership of Bilson & DeMeo [the writers behind the just as brilliant Zone Troopers] had concocted a hard boiled vision of the future whereby Tim Thomerson essays the spirit of a down at heel gumshoe caught between a rock and hard place and hell hath no fury if you come between him and the answers that he seeks in his quest to save the future.
At a mere running time of 82 minutes, the standard running time for the majority of all Empire and Future Full Moon Movies, the movie benefits from a crackerjack script, bubbling over with witty one liners[Spoken by the Tim Man Himself]ably assisted on his travels by the elf like Lena, the sexy santa helper from the north pole shopping mall. I never thought about it back then, but as this arena of film-making has become Tim Thomerson's bread and Butter, does Helen Hunt still care to remember her early hike up the Hollywood Ladder by appearing in such a low budgeted but very high spirited movie.
Back then ofcourse, who knew? Then Again who was i to say that, when i was just a teenager, i would find myself hooked on low budget B movies or to be more precise, the low budget B Movie that rolled of the Charles Band Conveyor belt all those years ago and even still to this day, and it all began with the first adventure of a future cop called Jack Deth, he who said that dry hair was for squids.
The many sequels that followed down through the years may not have surpassed the class and feel of the original, but they still had Jack Deth as the main protagonist, in his world rules were for jokers, he lived by his own rules. My all time favourite from the Charles Band.
This Jack is the reel deal.If you haven't already seen it, which i seriously doubt, do yourself a favour and give it another watch, you'll see what i mean.
Trancers is a breathtaking film. Made on a minute budget, the sets clearly suffer from costings yet despite this the film is consistently humorous and riveting. Tim Thomerson blasts his way through many bad Trancers dude in his sarcastic and wry style - the scene where he tells a well toned body-builder (Michael McGrady) that his tan suits Christmas well is brilliant as are many of the daft remarks. Featuring a pre-fame Helen Hunt as Leena and a great range of supporting actors we also have to be grateful to the writers, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (later to concentrate on computer games understandably) who tone the film in ways that Charles Band (as director) could never have done alone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Trancers is a fun little B movie that mixes elements of sci-fi and film noir. But it wouldn't be half as fun without Tim Thomerson. Thomerson has played a number of genre heroes (including Brick Bardo, a.k.a. Dollman), but Jack Deth is his best. Deth is cop from the future who travels back in time to hunt the villainous Whistler and his army of Trancers. It's a good fluff movie, but it couldn't happen under strict examination. Let's take a shot at this: If Whistler killed the ancestor's of the council, that particular member would have never existed. Therefore, the remaining members would not have known that particular member and could not have remembered him. Therefore, the council would not be the same. Therefore, the council may not have existed at all. It's an endless chain reaction. But forget all that, it's a Charles Band movie and it's about fun. It features a pre-Matrix moment with slow-motion bullets and an early performance from Helen Hunt. And of course Trancers went on to a new life in several sequels. So many, in fact, that I will probably never watch the rest of the series. But that won't stop me from giving the original a thumbs up, despite flaws.
For as long as i can remember, this movie like so many made by Charles Band,
be they made under the banner of Empire Pictures, Full Moon Pictures or even
his latest venture Shadow Entertainment, the majority of his output has
mostly been looked down upon as poor low brow fare, why even from those
persons unknown, masquerading as fans.
For me my first introduction to the work of Charles Band was infact "Ghoulies" directed by sometime actor, sometime director Luca Bercovici, being of that teen-age, the memories of that movie, like that of their sequels still lingers. Anyhow Trancers was the movie that kick started my love and my entire collection of Fantasy or Horror Fantasy movies, the majority of my collection it must be said is that of every Charles Band Movie he's ever made.
Pardon me for deviating from my take on this movie, everyone has their view, but hey, it has the coolest tag line, you know it, so i don't have to say it. A really snappy script, written by the writing partners of Bilson/De Meo, who would later excell themselves more so with the likes of "Eliminators" and the really fun "Zone Troopers.
The Movie itself also brought Tim Thomerson out of the shadows of character acting, allowing him to bring to life the hard boiled character of Jack Deth, Presented much better here than in any of the other sequels, of which, I must give mention to part three, which was the better of all the sequels.
As for the man behind the movie, Charles Band, i think perhaps, he cuts it better as a producer rather than a director, but hey if he runs the company then he's entitled to pick up that megaphone.
Perhaps the Glory Days might be gone, time rolls on, that shining light that once shone so bright for Charles Band will shine again, of that i have no doubt, he has left a legacy and for me my maiden voyage truly began with a man named Deth, how many film fans can say that and live to tell the tale.
'Trancers' (known under the dull title 'Future Cop' here in Australia, don't
ask me why) still holds up all these years later as a lot of fun. It's
cheap, sure, and suspiciously second hand (time travel schtick ripped off
'The Terminator', hard boiled Bogartish main character probably via 'Blade
Runner', neither idea original anyway), but it knows its limitations, and is
entertaining in a trashy way. The main reason it succeeds is because of the
always reliable Tim Thomerson ('Near Dark', 'Cherry 2000') who was made to
play Jack Deth. He's always enjoyable to watch. And as much as Helen Hunt
irritates me now that she is a "serious artiste", she is fine as Deth's
feisty side-kick. Also keep a look out for Thomerson's comedian buddies and
frequent co-stars Art LaFleur and Biff Manard, and Richard Herd, a familiar
face to 'Seinfeld' fans. I was also impressed by Michael Stefani as Deth's
nemesis Whistler, king of the trancers. He seems to have disappeared from
our screens since this movie, which is a pity.
'Trancers', a favourite guilty pleasure.
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