1985. Directed by Charles Band.
Trancers is a definitive cult guilty pleasure, a film that revels in its foolishness and delights with its creative and respectful theft of tricks from other, genre giants
Jack Deth is a trooper, a police officer in the futuristic Angel City. He hunts Trancers, zombie-like cult members who serve Whistler, a rogue psychic who is able to bend his subjects wills to his own designs, leaving them as hidden monsters, waiting to strike when you least expect it. Deth learns that Whistler has "traveled down the line", a unique method of time travel in which the persona takes over the body of an ancestor in a different when. Deth himself takes the trip and ends up in 1985 Los Angeles. What follows is a punk rock love story with lasers, time stopping gadgets, and gleefully awful one liners.
The somber feeling that you're watching a film that would never, ever get made in today's cinema climate sets in early. Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo's script is filled with hilarious exchanges, surprisingly genuine romance, and fun sci fi tropes that never, ever take themselves serious in the slightest. Tim Thomserson leads the charge as Deth, bringing his usual faux grit and absolute commitment to the chaos that helps Trancers stay in the comfortable absurdity of it's design. The amazing Helen Hunt delivers a great supporting turn as the love interest. Using razor sharp wit combined with an unabashed sense of sexual freedom, Hunt's character Leena is in no need of saving. Hunt and Thomerson's chemistry is fresh and genuine, blowing away B movie erotic conventions by displaying two people who organically fall for one another in such a way that risking everything becomes a necessity rather than a hindrance.
Mac Ahlberg's cinematography is a flash fire of neon strobe lighting offset by Howard Burger's zany visual effects. The "singing" process of the Trancers is the highlight, bringing a popcorn ending to Karen Kubeck's Romero-esque makeup monstrosities. Phil Davies and Mark Ryder's very 80's score clings to Deth's trench coat as he moves between punk clubs, shopping malls, and lonely alleyways hunting his prey.
Band's command of the questionable material is the highlight. Trancers creates it's own world within minutes, setting the stage for the ludicrous showdown with a wry appreciation for the tropes it's mimicking. The absurd time travel science produces one of the best segments, with the legendary Art Le Fleur's police captain being sent back into the body of a 13 year old female. The entire concept of the hero and villain not actually being themselves, but yet represented by their dominating psyches is a slick choice that yields reckless fun in ample amounts.
Available on Huluplus, Trancers is pure 80's escapism. Rebellious and ridiculous, the realization that you're viewing something unique sets in early. Upon conclusion, the viewer is left knowing that they've seen a film that will probably not be attempted again, and it's all the more reason to revisit this cult classic. Spawning endless, lesser sequels, Trancers started a movement of trash cinema sagas that dominated the VHS scene for years. Commit for the nostalgia. Check your brain and idea of quality at the door and let Jack Deth lead you to the zombie plagued, cigarette stained promised land.