Review “Trancers” (1984)

trailer from YouTube

Svengoolie was yet again a rerun, a generically named Curse of Frankenstein, which I reviewed here: We tried another movie the dearly beloved saw a while ago. I remembered bits and pieces of it as well.  
In the year 2247, Trooper Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) patrols the mean streets of Angel City, near sunken Los(t) Angeles. The opening sequences show our hero entering a café and ordering coffee. 
“The real stuff?” the waitress asks. “That’ll cost you.” She disappears into the back room. 
Deth asks a patron to show proof he’s not a trancer. The patron objects that he needs a warrant. Deth pulls a gun.  
The patron, a large bear of a man, is not a trancer. However, the waitress, an older black woman, comes out of the back room with an ashen face, red eyes, and a bad attitude. She and Deth get into a knockdown-dragout. The non-trancer patron flees and hits a beacon outside the café, alerting the police. 
After taking a few blows, Deth shoots the hapless waitress with a ray gun, killing her. She glows and leaves a person-sized burn mark on the floor. She has, in the parlance of the time, been “singed.” 
The police arrive in a hover squad car. Out pops McNulty (Art LaFleur), who admonishes Deth over his private war on trancers and demands he return to his assignments. Deth throws his badge onto the ground and stomps off. 
Later, when he is diving in the water around submerged Los(t) Angeles, recovering artifacts, McNulty returns. His former supervisor wants him to come with him to speak with the City Council. 
Deth at first demurs. McNulty tells him the creator of the trancers, Whistler (Michael Stefani), has found a way to go back in time. 
Deth believed he killed Whistler on one of the rim planets. Hearing he’s alive is disappointing, particularly since Whistler killed his wife. 
Whistler is back in 1985 in the body of an ancestor, assassinating the ancestors of the City Council. There would be nothing to stand between him and taking over Angel City. 
The remaining members of the Council want to send him back in time to stop Whistler as his ancestor. This requires keeping his body in stasis and injecting him with drugs. The antidote for return—one for him and one for Whistler—is secreted in the handle of his period .38 Special. 
He agrees, with one exception. He uses his gun on the body of Whistler, destroying it. Whistler isn’t coming home, regardless of what happens. 
The Council furnishes him with some information. His ancestor is a journalist. Whistler’s ancestor is a cop, of course, and with the power to psychically control people and make them into the zombie-like creatures known as trancers, beings neither dead nor alive and without a will of their own  
There are cute moments. Jack wakes up with a cute girl (Helen Hunt) whose name he doesn’t know. He’s supposed to get her to her job as a photographer for a mall Santa. The girl is no fool and realizes he isn‘t the same man she took a tumble with the night before. He told her he’s from L.A. but can’t find (let alone pronounce) Cahuenga Boulevard. 
When she arrives at work—late—oh, the things that come over Saint Nick (Peter Schrum). That jolly old elf turns green and attacks Deth with a giant plastic candy cane while children scream and worried mothers hustle their munchkins out of harm’s way. 
Mrs. Claus calls security, telling them, “We’ve got trouble at the North Pole!”  
The sheer silliness of it is worth the price of admission.  
Jack Deth himself brings to mind many of the old noir film detectives. No damsel in distress comes running up to his office with a tale of woe, but he is hard bitten, always backtalking his boss. He has a way with the ladies. At the same time, he mourns for his wife and will do all he can to get vengeance on her killer. 
The plot is the weakest point, and the movie takes itself rather too seriously at points, but with the silliness, it’s a lot of fun. And it’s just the beginning of a small library of sequels. 
The movie can be watch for free with commercials here:  
Title: Trancesrs (1984)  
Directed by 
Charles Band 
Writing Credits 
Danny Bilson… (written by) and 
Paul De Meo… (written by) 
Cast (in credits order) 
Tim Thomerson…Jack Deth 
Helen Hunt…Leena 
Michael Stefani…Whistler / Detective Weisling 
Art LaFleur…McNulty (as Art La Fleur) 
Telma Hopkins…Engineer Raines 
Richard Herd…Chairman Spencer 
Released: 1984 
Length: 1 hour, 16 minutes 
Rated: PG-13 

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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