Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is a trooper in Angel City, Circa 2247, mopping up the last of the disciples of the Martin Whistler. Whistler uses his psychic power to 'trance' those with weak minds and force them to obey his every desire. Whistler had been thought to be dead by now, but he's alive and well, in the 20th century. Whistler plans to control the city. That's where Jack Deth fits in. Jack is sent back in time by inhabiting the body of his ancestor. His Name is Deth. He hunts trancers. Even In The 20th Century. The only problem is that Whistler's ancestor is a police detective, and he's already begun trancing people. With the help of Lena (Helen Hunt), A strong-minded punk rock girl, he must find and protect Hap Ashby, a former baseball pitcher now living on skid row, and face whistler in a final confrontation.
Terminator 1.5 - Days Of Cheaper Past
- Trancers review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 2
Firstly, I have to point out that, as with so many obscure movies from this era, the DVD version is a crude transfer from video, and this one's worse than most. In addition to being cropped to fit a TV screen, it's so grainy that the whole film's a little bit out of focus. It's watchable, but only just. If that's going to seriously bother you, read no further, and don't rent the movie!
Otherwise, it's a dreadful film, but in an enjoyably stupid way. As you may have guessed from the synopsis, it's a shameless rip-off of "The Terminator", only with a tenth of the budget (at most), none of those expensive robots, and instead of James Cameron, the guy who went on to direct "Evil Bong 3: The Wrath Of Bong!", amongst many other timeless classics. It also tries desperately to be "Blade Runner", and occasionally turns into a zombie film for a couple of minutes, because bad actors in zombie makeup are much cheaper than killer cyborgs. And talking of bad actors, some of the cast are practically at the Plan 9 level, and only veteran TV actress Anne Seymour in a minor supporting rôle really seems to be trying.
Naturally, the script abounds in huge lapses of logic, plot holes you could fly the Death Star through, and random stuff they just made up as they went along, such as the bad guy's superpower of turning people into zombies by telepathy. But you know what? "Loopers" didn't too badly at the box office, and it's not noticeably less logical than this film. In fact, it's oddly similar in so many ways that I can't help feeling the writers of "Loopers" saw "Trancers" and took notes. And there are a few scenes that weirdly prefigure "The Matrix" too; maybe this absurd little film is more influential than anybody realizes?
All the same, you have to love how relentlessly eighties it is, especially that not very authentic looking punk nightclub in which a band called the Buttheads sing "Jingle Bells". It's kinda fun, but in an ironic sort of way, where the unintentional humor works better than the scripted gags, and I'd probably have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been constantly squinting at the screen. Oh, and about that 18 certificate? These days, if they cut several uses of the f-word, I'm not sure it would even be a 12.