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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

REVIEW: Trancers (Full Moon Blu-ray) - Whistler's Father, Charlie Band and the Trancer Zombies from the FUTURE

Though I had heard of Trancers since I was a kid I had never checked it out. It looked too Sci-Fi for my purist horror mind. That of course is the opinion of the twelve year old me who was young, dumb and full of… you know. I enjoyed the trailers well enough but the level of cheesy effects, synth score and overdramatic acting seemed just a little outside of my normal morbid curiosity with gore pictures and the macabre. I like to think of that as a Goth phase of sorts even before I pained my nails and wore black lipstick swaying to Bauhaus and dreaming of stealing Bela Lugosi’s cape with a mix of Alien Sex Fiend and Skeletal Family. I preferred Vincent Price and Corman, AIP and Poe. Sure I enjoyed Full Moon movies like Puppet Master and Subspecies as well as Seed People, but Trancers just looked hokey. I finally had the chance to enjoy the Blu-ray just released from Full Moon. I’m glad I’m not twelve years old anymore, and I’ve become older and potentially a little wiser. Trancers surprised me in its scope, effects and, now that my tastes are fully developed, the synth score by Phil Davies and Mark Ryder.
Synopsis from Full Moon:

Welcome to Angel City, 2247. Trooper Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is wiping out the last disciples of Whistler, who used his psychic power to 'trance' those with inferior minds, forcing them to follow his every desire. Though he'd been thought dead, he's very much alive...in the year 1985.

Whistler's master plan - kill the ancestors of the City Council. With the Council disbanded, nothing can stop him from controlling the city. And that's where Deth comes in. Jack is sent back in time, inhabiting the body of his ancestor. Just one problem: Whistler's ancestor is a police detective, and he's trancing people in 1985.



With the help of a strong-willed punk girl, Lena (Helen Hunt) he must find and protect Hap Ashby, a former baseball pitcher now living on Skid Row, and confront Whistler.It’s still the same overdramatic cheesy movie that I remember from the trailer only now I can appreciate the acting craft of Tim Thomerson. His Jack Deth is the Dirty Harry of the future and of 1985. He’s a badass and he can time travel as well as stop and slow time to his advantage. He plays opposite Helen Hunt in her starting role which is something to behold in her punkish youth, but perhaps only because I’ve enjoyed her work since (yes, I loved As Good As It Gets). Is too much to think that playing opposite the older Thomerson set up Hunt to play the love interest of Jack Nicholson? Junk food for thought.

Yes, the effects are perfectly fake as would be indicated by the era in which it came out with Full Moon or Empire at the helm this was assured. That doesn’t make them any less entertaining which was part of their charm. The trancers themselves look like poor made up zombies from another world which is funny at first and then charming. This is back when Charlie Band was spending time behind the lens more than playing the Barnum role or perhaps even William Castle with his explosive showmanship. He really does make a great movie and come up with some classic concepts. You can tell he’s a fan first and filmmaker second. I may not always see eye to eye with his business practices, but I support the entertainment he creates because he’s damn good at it (I may be able to forgive Tourist Trap’s 5 minute cut in time). There are a few moments of slight tension mixed with a 80’s action lite and beautifully crafted art deco nostalgia sets with automobiles look like they came off the set of Radioactive Dreams.

Some cool features accompany the disc including a commentary track with Band and Thomerson, both of whom are well spoken and fun to listen to. Charlie has a knack for story telling and Thomerson’s rich experience in front of the camera makes for a veteran giving juicy war stories. Also included is Daniel Griffith’s Trancers Featurette as well as rare interviews with Thomerson, Helen Hunt! And Megan Ward. Also included is the Trancers: City of Lost Angels segement from the Pulsepounders Trilogy which is somewhat grainy in quality but is a nice addition to a cult favorite release.

Enjoy the battle between Jack Deth and Whistler with his psychic army of trancers running amuck through time and space. Now I have to seek out the sequels to fully immerse myself in the Thomerson legacy. I recently stopped my Full Moon Streaming subscription, but only because I couldn’t find time to watch it and not because of lack of content. I think I just found a reason to sign back up. 

Make sure to check out their streaming service which I fully endorse as a delicious, horror friendly alternative to Netflix. There’s gold in that there internet! Consider me a new fan of this classic piece of Band.

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