""What kind of name is Peter Gunn?" "What kind of name is Jack Deth?" is just one of the memorable lines you will see in this low budget 1985 cult thriller "Trancers," starring the ever reliable Tim Thomerson and a struggling Helen Hunt. "Trancers" spawned five sequels, all of which never quite duplicated the fun of the original. I saw somewhere on the Internet that Thomerson is the "King of the B movies," but "Trancers" is the one film he made that stands head and shoulders above all others. If you draw a blank with the name "Tim Thomerson," you most likely saw him in a few bigger budget pictures, such as "Air America, "Uncommon Valor," and "Who's Harry Crumb?" He's done television work as well, appearing on "Xena" and "The Days of Our Lives." Once you recognize Thomerson, you'll remember his appearance in numerous films. Helen Hunt should need no introduction, but the fact that she appears in this low budget film is oddly jarring. Hunt went on to appear in two "Trancers" sequels before moving on to "Mad About You" and eventual stardom. "Trancers" opens with a futuristic L.A. The majority of Los Angeles sits under water, a victim of a massive earthquake. A council rules the remaining areas of the city, but their reign is under fire by a man named Whistler, an evil psychic with the ability to put certain weak-minded people (called squids) under a "trance." Whistler hopes to overthrow the council with his trancer shock troops. Trancers tend to be rather ugly blokes, with crusty looking lips and yellowish skin. The council dealt a series of blows to Whistler and his movement with the help of trancer hunters like Jack Deth. Deth and his fellow officers move around the city, hunting down trancers in order to kill them. Jack refers to this process as "singeing" because a trancer shot with a gun burns away, leaving only a black, ashy outline on the ground. After Jack quits the force over a dispute with his boss, he's suddenly called back to duty when an emergency arises. It seems Whistler sent himself "down the line" (read: time traveled into the past) to Los Angeles in 1985, where he hopes to hatch a plan that will doom the council and allow himself to take over. Jack Deth must now follow Whistler back in time in order to put an end to the nightmare of the trancers. When Jack goes down the line he meets Lena (Helen Hunt), who quickly becomes a part of the mission to track down Whistler. Predictably, a romance springs up between Deth and Lena as the two race around L.A. battling Whistler's new batch of trancers.It's difficult to tell if "Trancers" is a serious science fiction film or a sly spoof. There are a lot of gags and jokes centered on Christmas in 1985 Los Angeles, especially with Lena's job as an elf at a department store. I don't want to spoil this scene for you, but it is one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile. Imagine a battle with foam candy canes, a set of antlers, and a falling Christmas prop and you'll get the idea. This battle in the mall also leads to one of the funniest lines in the film when a lady calls security on a walkie-talkie and squawks, "Security, we've got trouble at the North Pole." If the idea of a singed Santa named Murray appeals to you, buy "Trancers" right away.There are other elements in this film that might appeal to the dedicated cheese lover. Watch how Thomerson drives the car; his hands twist and turn the wheel but the car continues moving in a straight line. Then there is the deadly effect of a tanning booth, which apparently can radiate enough heat to singe a raincoat or burn hands. Jack's special watch, which can freeze time for ten seconds, seems to stop time for minutes. These are small problems that instead of detracting from the film actually serve to add a chuckle or two. Arguably, the biggest joke in the film is the trancers themselves. They aren't that hard to kill, don't look particularly scary or dangerous, and have absolutely no powers whatsoever. You'd figure that at the very least the trancers would possess some sort of psychic power with which to threaten our heroes. You'd be wrong. These guys are so weak you could kill them by hitting them over the head with a rolled up newspaper. Be sure and watch for Deth's first encounter with a trancer in the diner of the future L.A.; I laughed for a long time over the uppercut he delivers to an old waitress when she turns out to be a trancer."Trancers" is actually entertaining overall, with an occasionally cool soundtrack, funny dialogue, and better acting than one usually finds in a movie of this caliber. I really enjoyed Thomerson as Jack Deth; he's fun to watch and actually makes you root for his character. It's too bad the people who made the DVD didn't take the film seriously, as the transfer is fuzzy, there's a dead spot in the middle of the movie, and no commentary. What the DVD does have, amazingly enough, is a whopping FORTY-FIVE trailers on the reverse side of the disc. Sure, the trailers are for low budget clunkers like "Puppet Master" and "Robot Wars," but it's still great to watch them. For the price, "Trancers" is well worth the time. Hopefully, the rest of the series will come out on DVD soon."
Trancers DVD Huge Letdown
gary malone | Columbus, Indiana | 08/07/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"After waiting years for a excellent copy of one of my favorite movies, I was very disappointed when I received this in the mail. First of all, this is advertised as WIDESCREEN when it is NOT! There is no Widescreen version of this available.There is also no full moon featurette on trancers either. secondly, halfway thru the movie I notice the screen going black for a couple of seconds.No biggie.. Later, after the end credits come up, The Vestron Video Logo comes on, then it says END OF SIDE TWO!!! This DVD is nothing but a copy of the Laser disc transfer that Vestron did quite a few years ago. The quality of the print is not very good, color is weak and images not very sharp, with the film having several cig. burns in it.Come on Full Moon, get your act together, and spend a few bucks to do this movie justice. I would much rather see a widescreen version of this than any of the other so called sequels..One nice note, the flip-side of the DVD does have over 40 trailers for all of the other Full-Moon Videos, but if they look anything like this one, I will not spend the money."
Jack Deth is BACK!
Chadwick H. Saxelid | Concord, CA United States | 01/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"And he's never even been here before! Classic quotable ad line for the cult hit Trancers back when it played in theaters in 1985. Yeah, Trancers really played the big screen venues back before video ate up the grindhouse theater chains that booked these exploitive little trash movie gems. Charles Band (of Full Moon fame) created his own little movie studio, the now defunct Empire Pictures, which scored a megahit with Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator and, from 1983 until 1988 (or 89), released many a great piece of low rent cinema, Trancers being one the tiny studio's bigger non-Stuart Gordon hits (Ghoulies was the other one).Jack Deth is an Angel City cop tracking down the last few Trancers, people who have become mental zombies enslaved to their psychic leader Whistler, who Deth singed (slang for dispatch revolver style) on one of the 'Rim Worlds'. But it turns out that Whistler is not dead, he has gone 'down the line' to wipe out the current Angel City Council members family lines. Deth has to go back in time, to 1985 Los Angeles, and snag Whistler before he rewrites the future to his power mad liking.Although Trancers has plot holes and paradoxes you can drive several highways through, the script manages some real wit and fun with its premise and character actor Tim Thomerson is obviously having a blast playing Deth. The Full Moon (now Koch Distributing) DVD is just a copy of the Vestron Video laserdisc release, presenting the movie in full frame and offering up some bios and filmographies of the various actors. 40 trailers for most of Band's Full Moon output is offered on the b-side and that makes this disc all the more worth having. Recommended."
Jack Deth is back and he's never been here before...
M. Huston | Indianapolis, IN USA | 06/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A science-fiction fantasy adventure set in Angel City (Los Angeles) in the year 2257. Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is a Trancer-hunter. Deth's mission in life is to hunt down members of a phsyic cult of zombie-like creatures called Trancers, under the control of a man named Martin Whistler. However, Whistler has escaped back in time to become one of his ancestors, in 1985 Los Angeles.I like to say this is the Evil Dead (or Army of Darkness) of the Sci-Fi genre. Evil Dead is acclaimed as being one of the best horror movies for what it could do with its low-budget, Trancers does this in the same fashion. Tim Thomerson plays Jack Deth, who could go one-on-one with any hero in any movie. Deth has some great lines in the movie which are often quite funny, if your name was Jack Deth, you know you would talk in the 3rd person don't you!?The special effects, although not great by todays standards, do get the job done. The soundtrack to this movie is also pretty good. The movie itself gets a full 5 out of 5 stars, although the DVD could have been much better. This is a must for any action or sci-fi fan to put into their collection.Overall : 5/5"
The names Deth and I'm a Trancer Hunter
Ironman | Carmel, IN USA | 03/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the mid 80's many low budget companies popped up that were sponcered by major companies. These were excuses to produce a huge load of garbage to earn some extra revenue. One of the companies, and at the time one of the best, was Full Moon Entertainment. They specialized in the Horror and Sci-Fi genere. One of their all time greats was Trancers, which has since become a worthy cult classic.
The movie stars Tim Thomerson (WHo was also in Air America, Near Dark, Dollman) as Jack Deth, a Trancer hunter in the year 2285. Trancers are basically these Zombie like beings made by a psychic maniac known as Whistler. Whistler has gone down back in time to eliminate the Council members ancestors. The council is basically the rulers of the world.
This movie also stars Helen Hunt as Jack Deths love intrest when he goes back to stop whistler, in the year 1985. THis also stars Art LeFleur and Telma Hopkins.
The plot may sound cheesy but for the msot part it works out just fine. This even stands against a lot of the stuff produced today. This is one of the few low budget direct to video films that is truely great. For the best part on DVD the theme music is played on the menu which is great in itself.
A must own for any one who likes a good sci-fi film."