STDVD: Trancers

June 7, 2011

Okay, so here’s what I need you to do: Come over here to the Weather Station, knock politely on the door, and when I answer, I will need you to punch me in the eye. As hard as you can, please. Really give it everything you’ve got. Why? Because I deserve it. See, I spent good money on the Trancers DVD box set.

How is that a professional science fiction writer/podcaster has never seen the Trancers flicks? Good question. They just stayed under my radar for decades, and also I worried they would be of poor quality, because that occasionally happens in science fiction, despite what you may have heard.

Yeah, I own all three Trancers flicks now. So far, I’ve watched Part 1, in which a character named Jack Deth, really, travels back in time from what looks like the 1930s but is supposed to be the future. To do this, Deth, a cop, dives into the body of his exactly-the-same-looking ancestor. Deth’s job is to find a terrorist who has also travelled back in time, or something, but he really just spends all his time bouncing Helen Hunt off a mattress while talking tough. And there are weird “trancer” zombies, but I didn’t really follow that part.

Good points:

  • Tim Thomerson looks like he’s about 70 in this movie, although he doesn’t seem to realize it and plays Deth young and virile.
  • There are some great lines that remind us that Thomerson was a comedian.
  • I remember now why I had such a thing for Helen Hunt in the ’80s.
  • The special effects are groundbreaking for their era.
  • Deth’s boss also travels back in time, but the ancestor he lands in is a little girl who shows up to tell Deth off.
  • This movie was one of the first to go straight to home video, because producers knew word of mouth would kill it after opening night in theatres.
  • I was just fucking with you about the special effects.

The bad:

  • There is not an original idea in this movie. Not one. And not in that good way, either.
  • Tim Thomerson also starred in Doll Man, in which he played a tiny super-cop.
  • The box art shows Deth wearing a nifty helmet that he never actually wears in the movie. I wanted to see that helmet, man.
  • There are some crap lines that make no sense. “Dry hair’s for squids,” Deth says after wetting his hair. Well, okay.
  • I remember now why Helen Hunt pretty much stopped acting for a long time.
  • This movie will make you say “Wow, I sure wish the effects were as good as The Starlost.”
  • There is a fourth movie that is so poor Tim Thomerson wouldn’t get involved.

Now, you know I have terrible taste in everything. I love crappy movies. I love cheap movies. But somehow, Trancers just didn’t hold my attention, because the suckness outweighed the charm.

I guess I’ll have to watch the other two flicks I have. After all, I paid five bucks for the box set.


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