Best Worst Movies Of All Time – Trancers

TRANCERS – The Official Nerfed Llamas Review – SWELL!

I’m the king, president, emperor, and prime minister of loving cheesy b-grade movies. If there was a college degree in enjoying the dregs of cinematic schlock films, I would have a PhD and would have graduated Maxima Cum Laude. In my brief time on this planet I have absorbed more video content than any one human being should ever consume, and as such I have decided to bequeath to you the gift of a list of the Best Worst Movies ever made. Such a list could only start with the single greatest B-movie ever committed to celluloid: Trancers.

Trancers was originally filmed by Empire Pictures (also responsible for Re-Animator, Ghoulies and Robot Jox – I know, awesome, right?) and released to cinemas in 1985. Its cast includes a stand up comedian, Tim Thomerson, an up and coming actress, Helen Hunt (who would go on to win an Academy Award in 1997 – although not for a Trancers sequel, of which she was in several), Art LaFleur, Telma Hopkins, and Biff Manard. Directed by Charles Band, and distributed through Full Moon Entertainment, Trancers can be watched on DVD, Blu-Ray, and via streaming on Full Moon Direct. Behold the awesomeness that is Trancers in trailer form:

Why this movie qualifies as a Best Worst Movie: because, despite all evidence to the contrary, this is a wildly entertaining movie. This film has all sorts of obstacles, the budget is minuscule, the plot is as thin as air, and the music sounds like the soundtrack to a Shirley MacLaine New Age Conversion Infomercial. This film should be unwatchable, the stuff of Mystery Science Theater 3000 legend, but then you have the two leads: Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt. Thomerson skillfully carries this movie on his back, from the moment he shows up in the first scene till the credits roll at the end. He plays the title character, Jack Deth (best hero name ever!), like a hard boiled film noir detective from classic cinema. Jack Deth is Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell, and Phillip Marlowe all rolled into one, mixing cold hard justice with sarcasm and blunt truth bombs that never fail to delight. Helen Hunt contrasts his performance with her spunky portrayal of Lena, a punk rock enthusiast and free spirit, who is fun, energetic and helps Jack embrace a world outside of detective life.

The plot is a bit convoluted and centers around a villainous mastermind named Whistler, who in the year 2247 has devised a way to turn humans into entranced, mind controlled super soldiers, hence the title: Trancers. Also, in 2247, a large portion of the earth has been decimated by war and human shenanigans, which leaves the remaining humans stuck living in a single mega city: Angel City which is governed by a Council of 3 leaders. These evil Trancers have all but lost the war, and in a desperate attempt to win, Whistler goes back in time to 1985 in a bid to kill the ancestors of the 3 council members, hoping to destabilize the leadership and give his army an opportunity to win. He succeeds in killing one council member, which forces the council to send their best Trancer hunter into the past to stop Whistler’s evil plot. Jack Deth travels to Los Angeles 1985, meets with Lena, who acts as his guide to the city and to life in the 1980s.Trancers Jack and Lena

Time travel is handled in an unusually interesting manner. When traveling, you do so by entering the body of an ancestor from the designated time period. In Jack’s case it is a photographer playboy named Phil, in Whistler’s case it is the chief of police of Los Angeles. More humorously, Jack’s hard nosed alpha male superior McNulty is transferred into a pre-teen girl. Also of note, changes in the past instantly effect the future, if somebody dies in 1985, they disappear in 2247, although seemingly very little else changes – no butterfly effect. By all accounts it makes no sense, but it’s how time works in this fictional world.

Ultimately what makes this film so great to watch is the humor and the character interactions. Jack Deth is always fun to watch on screen, and as a consummate man plucked out of time, he actually feels more at home in 1985 than in 2247. He cracks wise, always has a one liner on tap, and deals with each situation with equal parts sarcasm and pragmatism. It is his relationship’s with Lena, McNulty, Whistler and the Council that make this film such a joy to sit through. It also doesn’t hurt that the running time is a sleek 76 minutes, which means that there isn’t any time wasted.LenaKimono

What I Didn’t Like: Absolutely nothing. This movie is b-grade indie film making perfection. There is literally nothing to dislike.

Bottome Line: If your in the mood for a time travel/film noir mashup that looks like it was made for $10, but features incredibly endearing performances from a cast doing their best with what they had to work with, then Trancers is exactly the movie for you. At the very least it is a fun way to be entertained for 76 minutes around the big screen HDTV with your friends. Also, if you are down with binge watching, there are 4 sequels to the Trancers series prominently featuring Jack Deth in a wide variety of time traveling adventures. They are excellent as well, so definitely watch them as well. So what are you waiting for? Do it, watch them now!

Also, if Charles Band or any other member of Full Moon Features gets a chance to read this – I have an amazing Trancers 7 pitch which gets the gang all back together (mostly as cameos) and gives Jack one hell of a send off. Trust me, this pitch is SWELL! Send me an email if you’d like to hear more: Packy – Head Llama

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