Charles Band's 1985 TRANCERS was a cheap BLADE RUNNER (1982) mimic that over the course of two sequels pitted time-traveling troubleshooter Jack Deth against a race of mutant zombie/maniac soldier/cult fanatics (choose one) called "Trancers." This sequel does as well as can be imagined, given that Deth eliminated Trancers altogether in the previous film. Jack...read more
Charles Band's 1985 TRANCERS was a cheap BLADE RUNNER (1982) mimic that over the course of two sequels pitted time-traveling troubleshooter Jack Deth against a race of mutant zombie/maniac soldier/cult fanatics (choose one) called "Trancers." This sequel does as well as can be imagined,
given that Deth eliminated Trancers altogether in the previous film.
Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) returns victorious from an offscreen war against plantlike Solonoids, unaware that one hides in his time machine. Their struggle during dematerialization accidentally crashes the craft in Orpheus, somewhere in another dimension. Orpheus is a strangely medieval realm ruled
by Trancers, though this breed takes the form of vampire-type noblemen (with names drawn from Shakespeare), who suck life energy from helpless serfs. A grass-roots resistance, known as Tunnel Rats, oppose Trancer tyrant Caliban (Clabe Hartley), and Jack Deth fits the mortals' prophecy of a warrior
champion. Though captured by Caliban's minions, Deth finds a surprising ally in Caliban's rebel son, Prospero (Ty Miller), who helps the human escape and slay his wicked father.
The wild change of venue had more to do with the production company's financial travails than Solonoids (who, however briefly glimpsed, are a far more interesting menace than Trancers). Band moved his troubled Full Moon outfit, specialists in low-budget fantasies for the direct-to-video market,
from Los Angeles to Romania. Hungry for business in the post-Soviet era, the former East Bloc dictatorship offered existing soundstages, little or no location fees, generous official cooperation, and extras and athletic stunt people who would work for pennies a day. It's amusing to see how Band
features like DRAGONWORLD, MANDROID, LURKING FEAR, SUBSPECIES, and LEAPIN' LEPRECHAUNS! adapted to Romania's quaint but limited landscape of green forests, ancient forts, and pictaresque Bucharest. As for TRANCERS, a hardboiled sci-fi detective franchise mutated into a Robin Hood manque with vague
Thomerson's performance is the highlight of the movie. An underappreciated physical comedian, he incorporates parts of his stand-up act into the campy Jack Deth role, most uproariously when Deth's "long second" watch backfires leaving the hero stuck in slow motion, to the amazement of Trancer
foes. Hartley and other cast members (mostly transplanted American thesps) show some panache, but it wasn't enough to carry a simultaneously-shot followup TRANCERS V: SUDDEN DETH, mercifully advertised as the last in the series. (Violence, nudity, profanity.)