Story: Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) has been tracking down “trancers” for a long while now, using his instincts and a detection tool to find and eliminate his targets. The trancers are humans that have been turned into mindless husks, used to serve the will of Whistler (Michael Stefani), who flexes his mental control powers to manipulate his minions. They seem normal at first glance, but can quickly be tripped mentally into violent lunatics, as Jack has seen time and again. When Whistler manages to time travel to evade Jack’s grasp, Deth has to follow suit and has his consciousness beamed into an ancestor, to allow his hunt to continue. Whistler has insulated himself however, running a police department for cover, so can even Jack Deth manage to bring him down at this point?
Entertainment Value: A fun, super brisk sci/fi ride, Trancers has those old school Full Moon b movie vibes and would launch several sequels in its wake. The narrative here isn’t fleshed out or fully explained, but it doesn’t need to be, since the movie just rolls forward and lets some things remain a mystery, which actually kind of works in this case. The time saved on skipping background exposition makes this quite a streamlined experience, clocking in at 76 minutes. That keeps the pace brisk, but not rushed, since little time is spent to explain things to the audience and to be honest, those details that remain unknown have little to no negative impact on the picture. You have to make some leaps of logic faith of course, but this is a low rent b movie, so that is to be expected. The visuals are lo-fi, but fun and suit the material well, while there’s bursts of humor, action, and even romance, though effective these elements are depends on your b movie tolerances. I found Trancers to be a solid start to the franchise and for b movie devotees, is well worth a spin.
In addition to Full Moon boss Charles Band in the director’s chair, Trancers also boasts a colorful cast of performers, led by Tim Thomerson. I could watch Thomerson in anything, but he has a knack for these kind of low budget b movies, as evidenced by his repeat appearances in the Full Moon universe. He just gets this kind of material and doesn’t look down on it, so his performances are often quite fun and that is the case here, to be sure. Thomerson has an old school, hard boiled detective vibe to Jack Deth and that approach works. He keeps a humorous edge on the character as well, so his one liners and over the top exchanges never disappoint. I love the dance floor scene, as well the sequences where Thomerson fights an old woman with a meat cleaver and a sweat soaked Santa Claus, but his entire performance here is a lot of fun to watch. Helen Hunt is also here in an early role, including some scenes in a hideous confederate flag jean jacket. The cast also includes Art LaFleur, Richard Herd, Michael Stefani, and Telma Hopkins.