DIR: Charles Band
STARRING: Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt
88 Films bring another of Full Moon productions B-movie ‘classics’ to Blu-ray, and afford it more respect than most big budget releases get these days. Considered to be one of Full Moons better productions Trancers is offered a little more love than most B flicks, but how you feel about it will depend on how you respond to its low budget eccentricity. Sitting somewhere in between Blade Runner and The Terminator it has a low budget charm and surprisingly slick visuals that set it apart from many other sci-fi films of the era. It has dated somewhat, but 88 have given it a top notch spit and polish that fans will love.
The story follows the time-travelling antics of hard boiled ‘Trooper’ Jack Deth (Thomerson) as he hunts the leader of a futuristic cult known as Trancers. Going back to 1984, the present at the time of the film’s release, he hooks up with Helen Hunt’s kindly punkette and sets about trying to save the future by changing the past. If that sounds familiar it is because it very similar to James Cameron’s seminal The Terminator, and plot wise the two walk very similar paths. But in all fairness, Trancers probably owes more to Ridley Scott’s ground breaking Blade Runner. Both visually, and thematically Trancers attempts to recapture some of the Raymond Chandler/Philip K Dick detective future noir that helped make Scott’s movie so compelling.
Trancers doesn’t really have the resources to match Blade Runner, but it manages to stretch what it does have to the limit and is armed with plenty of wit and charm. The future it presents is believable looking both advanced yet wearyingly apocalyptic; a place where humanity has lost much of its soul and seeks refuge in dark places. Its time travel set up is neat too; offering a believably brutal and grounded idea. Free from the perils of modern CGI it is a brilliantly jarring moment when the film switches time lines. The film loses some of its visual prowess once it lands itself in the 1980’s, but it ups the wit and offers up some genuinely inventive set-pieces that have been repeated in bigger budget films since.
A particularly smart sequence in which Jack Deth slows time in order to avoid injury and death is repeated in the recent, mega budget X-Men: Days of Future Past. Bryan Singer’s blockbuster is more spectacular, but the influence is there and it’s to Charles Band’s credit that a little B-Movie like Trancers was able to form its own identity and become influential in its own right.
Trancers may not be as memorable, or as important as The Terminator or Blade Runner, but it is successful within its own boundaries and manages to transcend its influences by creatively side stepping its budgetary limitations and some inspired casting.
88’s Blu –ray is packed with plenty for fans to enjoy. The film itself looks fantastic in 1080p and it still amazes me how well some of the older films scrub up on Blu-ray. As for extras the film has plenty of interviews with many of the main cast and crew and some oddities for those who like to dig deeper. Cybercrime: The making of Trancers is a fun talking heads documentary that gives a decent history of how the film came into being and how it became the cult hit it is today.
The rather superfluous Flashback Weekend featurette is just a few fans at a showing of a special Trancers work print. Probably of most interest to die- hard fans is Trancers: City of Lost Angels: a 25 minute piece of Trancers history that was believed lost for 25 years. It also has a commentary from Charles Band and Tim Thomerson along with a wealth of trailers and promo materials. A genuine must buy for fans of the film.