Trancers 6 (2002 Video)
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This time around, Full Moon couldn't afford Thomerson, so they open with some stock footage of him, from previous films in the series, and then send him back in time to inhabit the body of the daughter he never knew he had fathered during one of his visits to the 80s. If you're a follower of the TRANCERS series, this all makes pretty good sense, as the third film did introduce just such a child.
Anyway, entry #6 takes place in a low rent version of the present and Deth's daughter is played by diminuitive (5 ft tall) Zette Sullivan, a serious little cutie who does a nice job of playing a tough "guy" in a girl's body. Sullivan is much of the show here as she effectively mimics Thomerson's style and earns a few smiles by playing the uncomfortable macho male in a woman's body role.
There's a couple of nice action sequences and some OK, bargain basement special effects and makeup. Most of the cast is fine and it all flies by enjoyably, if forgettably, enough. If Full Moon ever gets a decent budget again, they could do a lot worse than to continue this series with spunky Sullivan, maybe even team her up with Thomerson, and let this film's director, Jay Woelfel, take a shot at it. If he can do this well with next-to-no-money, I'm guessing he could make a pretty good film with a budget featuring more numbers than a zip code.
DVD owners can see this on a double-feature disc with the first TRANCERS film, which features a young Helen Hunt (who was in entries 1-3) as the woman who will eventually be the mother of Deth's daughter in this entry. Jeez, this is getting confusing.
To save his daughter from being on the losing end of a knife fight, Jack Deth is once again sent down the line, and in the process has to cope with the usual temporal, (as well as gender) shock while synging trancers.
General consensus is that Trancers 6 is pretty bad, usually cited for a slew of reasons. While I'll admit the film does have its shortcomings, I'll also point out that as a Trancer movie, let alone a Full Moon product, this should have been expected.
Firstly, I think deep down, everyone realizes that the Trancers series was pretty much in decline in the first place. Tim Thomerson says in the Videozone for Trancers 4 a statement along the lines of Helen Hunt off doing movies for millions while he is stuck there doing Trancers. The comment may have been said in jest, but it does illustrate that there is definitely a visible decline in the series. The fact that Trancers 4 and 5 should've been one movie in the first place (how Kill Bill-esquire) shows that series was starting to be stretched thin.
However, Trancers 6 is remarkably refreshing. The time travel this time is a throw back to the original Trancers no TCL chamber here. The plot is a throwback to Trancers 2: Trancer farming but with less Richard Lynch and more uhm.. meteor? (Side note: a meteor that has the power to bend the will of people? Do I detect Maniac Mansion here? I doubt it, but that was a sweet game. Anywho, bad digression there). The aliens and the meteor tie back to Jack's implied adventures through time-space-dimensions-etc. that are post Trancers 3 and possibly post Trancers 5. All these incorporations solidify Trancers 6 within the canon of the Trancers series.
Trancers 6 even expands upon previous elements of Trancers. In Trancers 6 we see deformed Trancers, an alternate method to trance the squids (via meteor gun), and even a more powerful trancer (the tranced Mark who can stop bullets, unfazed).
The movie shows technical competency itself. No boom mikes visible, a claim that Trancers 1 cannot even make! Actually, it is quite surprising what movie was spun with what little resources and budget the director had. You can scoff at the lifted footage of Tim Thomerson from previous Trancers movies edited together in the beginning, but working with what the director has, it's actually pulled off quite well! The only real shortcomings in the technical department are the special effects. Yes, the trancer's plunge to his death was pretty bad. Any sort of explosion or laser looked pretty cut and pasted in. However, lack of any resources for a proper post-production would explain this (see the director's website on this detail), but also at the same time, I must harkin back to the quality of Trancers movies as a whole the special effects have never really been that good! The image of the movie is nice and crisp; it looks like an actual movie! This is actually a quite surprising quality of Full Moon in the early 2000s during the same year (2002), Death Bed came out from Full Moon, a monstrosity that looks like home video porn. I am grateful that Trancers 6 looks the way it does!
This is all fine and dandy, but lets boil to the root of what Trancers is about, and why there may be reasons for reservations for #6. Tim Thomerson is so synonymous with Trancers that not having him in #6 is a risky venture. However, the powers that be said no, so we do not get Tim Thomerson back as Jack Deth. This hindrance is dealt with rather brilliantly I think have him sent down the line into his daughter. For starters, it's a nice fresh face, a clean slate. In Trancers 5, the evil doppelganger of Jack Deth comments that Jack Deth was getting pretty old. That was 1994; this being 2002, Tim Thomerson himself would be older. Sure, it could work some people like 80-billion year old Harrison Ford donning the fedora of Indiana Jones again, so why not Tim Thomerson. Face it for whatever reasons, Tim cannot be Jack Deth forever. Jo is a nice fresh face, and she actually pulls off the witticisms and one liners that Jack normally does quite well. In fact, while being in a female body, many of the comments take on an extra weight of humour. Examples of Jo complimenting the arse of Shauna, or the line of "not into guys" said to Mark. While this type of humour has been done before in such movies as Switch, but it takes on an extra sense of comedy since now it's playing with the already established conventions solidified by Tim Thomerson. I feel the biggest flaw of the movie is that not enough time is spent with Jo, spatting Jack Deth remarks. In the middle of the movie she more or less disappears tied up or locked in a cell or sorts as we cut to exposition elsewhere. I feel that more time should've been spent on Jo acting like Jack, which would allow for more acceptance of the new character. I am hoping that Zette Sullivan starts to appear in more movies (no movies since Trancers 6-?), because I think she filled some pretty big shoes quite nicely.
So overall, I feel Trancers 6 is quite the worthy entry to the Trancers canon. I don't believe it deserves the dismissal it is currently receiving. It's pretty good!
I feel that Trancers 6 hearkens back to the first two Trancers films, even though Tim Thomerson's Jack Deth appearance was via stock footage from the early Trancers canon (I did give a moan and an eye roll when I saw familiar scenes, but hey, you got to do what you can when you don't have the series-making star at one's disposal). However, there was the dry, film noir-ish humor that made Jack interesting, this time delivered by Zette Sullivan, Deth's daughter. Sullivan did a decent job of pulling off Deth-like lines and even manages to pull off his trench coat wearing style (no greased back hair though, I'm glad to report). She had big shoes to fill, and she pulled it off.
Additionally, the strong female leads of Sullivan and Jennifer Capo were refreshing to the usual strong-arm masculine roles that dominant the Sci-Fi genre (the exception being the Alien and Terminator franchises). Actually, for the most part, Jack Deth has been surrounded by some strong feminine characters throughout the canon series.
The special effects are not great (especially the trancer that jumped from the window, reminding me of the movie "The Beginning of the End" with Peter Graves the grasshoppers on postcard scenes), but one cannot expect blockbuster effects when working on a shoestring budget. Director Jay Woelfel provides a candid behind the scenes look of what he went through to get this movie made and is worth a read (http://www.jaywoelfel.com/trancers6notes.html). I commend him for sticking with the film and getting it made.
It's not the best film out there, but if you are looking for a Trancer's film that fits with the early canon, then Trancers 6 is it. This movie definitely fits well with what made Trancers 1 and 2 work well in the first place, unlike Trancers 4 and 5, which in my opinion, were well off the mark of the franchise.
I Give it 10 out of 10
Fans of Movies like this should Check out Puppet Master, Slumber Party Massacre, Skinned Alive, Sleep Away Camp, and other Full Moon Pictures flicks. For other recommendations, check out the other comments I have sent in by clicking on my name above this comment section.
On the whole, they get an A for effort in trying to bring the Trancers saga back to what it originally was. And yes, the cheap effects and staging can clearly be blamed on the budget. But oh, how I wish the director had had Zette Sullivan turn her 'maleness' down a notch!
In an early trick that sets the low-budget tone of the film, series star Thomerson appears to hold a conversation with another character through use of clips from the previous films. Thomerson, who is thanked in the closing credits, is a spectral presence in the film; appearing in flesh only courtesy of a body double.
In typical "Quantum Leap" style, this latest adventure puts hero Jack Deth into the body of his own daughter as he tries to preserve the integrity of the timeline and stop an alien invasion. The paradoxical novelty of this idea enables the filmmakers to essentially remake the first film to lead the series in a new direction. In fact the closing scenes make it quite apparent that this is the intent.
B-movie sci-fi flicks from the 1960s and 1980s were characterised by representations of the future which were essentially cheap display of props and flashing lights and Trancers 6 continues this tradition.
The majority of the film is set in Los Angeles in 2022 but there is nothing despite a title card to suggest this fact. Everything looks the same as now! Shot mainly in fairly ordinary looking rooms and old industrial locations, this form of production design is present throughout the film. In true Ed Wood tradition, offices are identified by maps pinned to walls and laboratories are endearingly characterised by fluorescent liquids in smoking test tubes. As if this wasn't enough to evoke those late night movies of old, the main prop is a ray gun.
The great thing is that it isn't laughable. You actually find these aspects comfortably familiar and they help draw you into the B-movie world. Trancer 6 doesn't take itself too seriously, but it isn't unintentionally funny either. The direction and the performances of the largely inexperienced cast make this fun for all the right reasons.
What is interesting is the treatment of the theme of male/female relations. There are a lot of dated, chauvinistic clichés which seem vaguely offensive. Jack's sexist words coming out of a young woman's mouth is an attempt to undermine his macho persona.
The idea of a female hero is a popular one, but even now all are essentially male fantasies. In this case the integrity of its female heroine is undermined by giving her the mind of the male hero of the franchise. But there is no effort to concentrate on the complex differences between the sexes, which are laughably reduced to a single scene in which Jack/Jo attempts to put on tights.
If one were to give the film a look over from a "Newsnight Review" perspective, one could say that Trancers 6 comments on the very manner in which female protagonists remain essentially controlled by male ideals. This would certainly give a greater significance to the other dated aspects of the film which I have already mentioned.
This film is filled with female stereotypes, each worthy of consideration. The heroine is, prior to transformation, a shy scientist, while Deth's supervisor appears to him in the body of a prostitute. There is an instant contrast. Jo Deth is petite and fragile looking, which obviously adds to the novelty value of her suddenly acting macho, but this is the very form which audiences seem to appreciate most. It's a valid point to consider that if the roles were reversed, that the buxom actress was in the lead, it would undermine the integrity of the film.
Highlighting female sexuality degrades a film. Trancers 6 parodies the Hollywood casting of such sexless, nonthreatening heroines. As is usually the case in films like this there is a similarly sexed antagonist. Again her sexuality is seen as negative. She's a man-eater, a manipulator using her body to control weaker men. A Lady Macbeth figure, she is very definitely representative of the 'woman-behind-the-man' mode of thinking. In many ways she may be superior to her employer, but she embraces the mainstream acceptance of a male-dominated society.
Reviving the franchise 8 years after Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994) was always going to be an interesting proposition. The sex change novelty has breathed new life into the series. The opportunities for intelligent discussion are merely a bonus.
First of all, the TRANCERS series, started back in the mid-80s by Charlie Band and his Empire Pictures, is basically the franchise that it is because of Tim Thomerson and his excellent portrayal of Trancer hunter Jack Deth. Well, low and behold, due to the sinking budgets of Full Moon features (which, despite what people have said, have actually brought along very high quality features, such as HELL ASYLUM and DEAD & ROTTING), Thomerson did not return for the sixth installment.
Full Moon writer Courtney Joyner returns once again and delivers another below-average screenplay, which features Jack Deth (played by Thomerson...in flashbacks, which are extremely poorly inserted...he has a different hair style like every time he is shown, and some `shemp' laying on a table) going down the line into his daughter's body. Well, from here on out, you have "Jo Deth" acting like Jack...but its a shame that she really doesn't give off the same screen presence as Jack Deth did.
The film, shot on 16mm, is, simply put, an embarrassment to the TRANCERS name...no offense to anyone at Young Wolf Productions. I mean, I respect you guys for actually wanting to jump forth and do a TRANCERS film without Tim, but with a little more time (despite it being filmed since December of 2001), it could have been better.
However, check out Full Moon's DVD of it, which is a double feature with the original TRANCERS, and features trailers for the last 10 plus Full Moon features.
Overall, I would probably have liked the feature more if it wouldn't have the TRANCERS name, but like anything, you can judge it by someone's opinion and you must check it out for yourself!
* Out Of 4 (Bad)
*MINOR SPOILER: FIRST SCENE OF THE FILM REVEALED*
To prove how bad this movie is, you only need watch the first two minutes of the film when the original Jack Deth appears on the screen. But it's not actually Tim Thomerson. It's clips of him and sound bytes strung together (trust me, you can tell they're strung together) horribly to provide the viewer the last of the true Jack Deth humor. And from this point on, things only go down hill. Having this girl, Jo Deth, as our main character while Jack Deth is supposed to be in her body, is the worst idea in the world. Having this cute young woman act as a rough and tough man isn't the right track at all! It doesn't work and it really comes off as foolish.
I'm not going to go into the aspects of special effects and makeup because most reading this know what Full Moon has become: A really, really, low budget enterprise. I don't know what to say about this movie, except I really wish Full Moon could be like it was in the days of Demonic Toys, Puppet Master, and Trancers 1. Back then, while the special effects weren't great, the story telling was. They made serious b-movies for serious B movie and horror fans, and that just doesn't take place today with the new Full Moon Studios. I yearn for the good ol' days, and truly hope, that Full Moon can pull itself out of this horrible slump that they're in right now.
Trancers 6 gets a 2 out of 10.
I bought this video for three bucks. Although I haven't seen a single Trancers movie, I decided to skip ahead and jump right into "Trancers 6". I saw a babe with a big gun on the video box cover. That's all I needed to know about "Trancers 6". Now I realize that I was rash and foolish.
I can only assume that the appeal of these movies is the wisecracking Jack Deth, Trancer killer. Well, in "Trancers 6" they do away with him by having him "possess" his daughter and have her do all of the killing. So we get this babe walking around acting tough, telling horrible jokes and killing Trancers as cheaply as possible.
Bashing "Trancers 6" for being a cut-rate sci-fi B-movie is only stating the obvious. But I'll do it anyway. "Trancers 6" is cheap, brain-dead and pointless. Somehow I've got to get my standards above my current "Hot Chick with big gun is good enough". It's going to take awhile.