The consciousness of Jack Deth, a cop in 2247, is sent back in time to possess the body of his 1985 ancestor Phil Dethston in order to defeat an evil cult leader who has also taken this route and is murdering the ancestors of civic leaders who are therefore wiped out of existence.
Producer-director Charles Band is among the most prolific names in the low-budget B-picture and direct-to-video arena. Scripted by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, Trancers is his masterpiece and one of the liveliest, wittiest, cleverest cheapies ever made.
Hard-boiled Tim Thomerson is outstanding as future cop Jack Deth, who has a nice line in wry gruffness, partnered in the 20th Century by young Helen Hunt, as a rare heroine who acts sensibly when confronted by a rabid mind-controlled Santa Claus and still has the spunk to make jokes (claiming the villain has sent a threat via fortune cookie) in a crisis.
It contains a wide variety of smart comic book/s-f ideas, from the sunken city of Lost Angeles, the tough cop who has to inhabit the body of a ten-year-old girl on his visit to the past, a heroic streak displayed by a down-and-out baseball pitcher (Biff Manard) in saving the future, and credible, pithy, meaningless future slang (‘dry hair is for squids’). Thomerson’s Jack Deth returns in Trancers II and Trancers III, both with Helen Hunt loyally hanging on, and Trancers 4: Jack of Swords and Trancers 5: Sudden Deth, sillier fantasy stories shot in Romania. Trancers 6 gets round Thomerson’s absence by having Deth’s consciousness wake up in the body of his daughter Jo Deth (Zette Sullivan). A better follow-up than the sequels is Bilson and De Meo’s Zone Troopers, a WW II-set GIs-meet-aliens story with Thomerson as ‘the Sarge’ and Trancers veterans Manard and Art La Fleur in the platoon.
One of the liveliest, wittiest, cleverest cheapies ever made.