Trancers II: The Official Nerfed Llamas Review – More Deth is Always a Very Good Thing
If you have been with this blog since the very beginning well over a year ago, then you likely already know that the first film review I ever did was for the movies Trancers, which you can read here. I love the Trancers series, in a huge way. I owned them on VHS, then on DVD, and also as they come out on Blu-Ray (currently only the first three are available to date in HD format, hopefully 4, 5 and 6 will be coming soon). In many ways, I wish that Tim Thomerson had made twenty Trancers films, as they represent a fictional universe (b-movie or otherwise) that I would love to spend more time in. Perhaps a TV show version of Trancers in the 90s would have been a syndication hit, much like Hercules and Xena were at the time. Regardless, as I barrel my way through a cavalcade of b-movie greatness all month long from the undisputed champion of the genre, Full Moon Features, it was inevitable that I would start reviewing the sequels to Trancers as well. Get ready, because Deth is back, baby!
What is Trancer II: Trancers II is a direct sequel to the 1984 film Trancers. In the original movie Jack Deth, a cop from the year 2247, time travels to 1984 to stop a nefarious time travelling villain named Whistler from creating a zombie like army of brain controlled super soldiers named Trancers. Ultimately, at the end of the film Jack chooses to stay in 1984 (due to some mitigating circumstances), and the second film picks up seven years after the events of the first film. Jack and Lena are married now and live comfortably in a nice home in L.A. with Hap Ashby, a distant relative to a council member in 2247 that they are protecting. Everything seems to be going very well until a gang of Trancers show up on their front yard as landscapers. Jack is on the case, and this time it would appear that Whistler’s brother has come down the line and is attempting to revitalize the original Whistler’s project. To make matters worse, Jack’s wife from the future, Alice, shows up on a mission of her own and a desire to spend some quality time with her husband, which baffles Jack as she’s supposed to be dead. Jack and Lena have to work through not only a pending Trancer army but also the complexity of love and time travel as they try to save the future and their marriage! Story originated and directed by Charles Band (creator of Full Moon Features), from a script by Jackson Barr (Body Chemistry, Robot Wars), Trancers II stars Tim Thomerson (Near Dark, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Helen Hunt (Twister, What Women Want), Megan Ward (Arcade, Joe’s Apartment), Jeffrey Combs (Doctor Mordrid, The Re-Animator), Art LaFleur (Field of Dreams, Cobra), Telma Hopkins (Family Matters, Half & Half), Martine Beswick (Thunderball, One Million B.C.), Biff Manard (Zone Troopers, Eight Days A Week), Richard Lynch (Halloween, The Sword and the Sorcerer), Sonny Carl Davis (Bad Channels, Thelma & Louise), Alyson Croft (Trancers, Shameless), and Barbara Crampton (The Re-Animator, From Beyond).
What I Liked in Trancers II: Tim Thomerson! I could probably go on forever about the merits of Thomerson’s spot on b-movie high camp comedy delivery, but I already have gushed about my love for Thomerson in both my reviews for the original Trancers and in Dollman. Needless to say, Thomerson has the good stuff, and plays the b-movie hero exceptionally well.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the interactions between Jack and Lena, especially as they work through the slings and arrows of Jack’s multiple marriages. Thomerson and Hunt have a ton of chemistry together, and it makes the ups and downs all that more enjoyable to watch. There’s a lot of comedy mined from this specific situation, but also a lot of palpable drama as well. It is a tough spot to be in, as Jack is technically a widow, but because of time travel he now has 2 wives in the same place at the same time. Megan Ward does a fine job as Jack’s 2247 wife Alice, and she is a stark contrast to Lena. Whereas Lena is rational and levelheaded, Alice is impetuous and goal oriented. They bring an odd balance to Jack’s life, and a decision as he has to choose which wife, and ultimately which life he wants to continue to keep.
The villain team also does a tremendous job selling the special brand of evil necessary to create a Trancer army. Richard Lynch’s Dr. Wardo character is creepy and demanding in all the right ways. Jeffrey Combs knocks it out of the park with his cold and clinically evil character Dr. Pyle. Martine Beswick’s Nurse Trotter is one nurse you don’t want to get a shot from. They all work together in a synergistic harmony that makes for an extraordinary team. Every good hero deserves a good villain, and in this film Jack Deth gets more than he bargained for!
One last note of praise for the synth/new wave soundtrack by Phil Davies and Mark Ryder. Each scene is given an appropriate and memorable track. Action scenes have an instantly recognizable theme attached to them. The characters each have great audio cues as well. Many b-movies have understated or otherwise forgettable scores, but fortunately the Trancer series happens to have an amazing soundtrack!
What I Didn’t Like: The movie was too short. I need more Jack Deth in my life ASAP. Double ASAP! Otherwise, I have no major issues with this film. It is a great watch from the moment it starts to the second that it ends.
Bottom Line: Watch Trancers II now! Unless you haven’t seen the first movie, then watch it first, the II, then III then… are you seeing a pattern here? The Trancers series are fantastic low budget sci-fi films with a fun and fresh take on zombies and how evil men want to be able to manufacture and control them and also about the one hard-boiled hero who won’t stop until he’s eliminated every last Trancer. When viewed through that lens, one could argue that Trancers is social commentary and happening right now, just not as armies poised to topple governments, but of an entire populace of apathetic people who stand for nothing and hope to accomplish even less. Perhaps Whistler always fails because he never makes a group of Trancer slackers like we have now. Just a little food for thought. Do yourself a favor, watch Trancers II today. It’s available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Digital, and Streaming.
Check out the trailer for Trancers II and see the man, the myth, the legend: Tim Thomerson show you how it’s done!