Movie Review: Trancers

The third of the Full Moon reviews, the sci-fi time-travel flick titled “Trancers”:

Jack Deth is a trooper in Angel City, circa 2247, mopping up the last of the disciples of the evil Whistler. Whistler had been thought to be dead by now, but he’s alive and well: in the year 1985.

Oh yeah. Time travel, something I dislike in fiction with an irrational hate. Except, it turns out, in cases like this and Back to the Future. This movie starts in the future and Jack (Tim Thomerson) is a pissy cop going after Trancers — who I spent far too long thinking were taking drugs to make them that way. He’s got a grudge against Whistler and his people since the death of his own wife. As the tin says, Whistler is actually alive in the past.

The time travel is novel and somewhat ridiculous: Jack has to travel back along his ancestry into the mind of his relative alive, and in the area, in 1985. That’s new (well for a thirty year old movie), and I can’t remember encountering it anywhere else. So it gets a pass on time-travel from me.

Then he wakes up in “present day” 1985, and he’s disoriented and still grouchy. Before embarking on his adventure he works a gob of product into his hair, which causes Leena (Helen Hunt) to ask the 1985-equivalent of “what do?” Jack Deth replies with my absolute favorite line from any B-movie ever:

“Dry hair is for squids.”

Sold. Movie, you have me. And there are several more of these movies I can watch.

The movie has good pacing after Jack wakes up in his ancestor, and some good comedy bits. There is no on screen sex, and the way they handle it is another hilarious (intentionally) gag that they hopefully milk in the sequels. The violence is standard fare, and hilariously, whenever the bad-guys die they turn into burnt patches on whatever material they die on. It’s like a super chalk outline.

It also has a somewhat predictable end, though they played it quite well and it leaves them open to sequels — there’s no retroactive work to be done for the story to continue. All in all this was one of my favorite B-movies ever despite it somehow remaining off my radar until the wife mentioned liking it when she was a kid.

Not just a B-movie — a B-plus!

Also, an aside that is funny: the other cop is named McNulty, who is also a cop character on the Wire, which is an unintentional bit of coincidence.

Report card:
Acting: Above-average for a B-movie.
Effects: Pretty good for the time of filming and budget.
Violence: A good amount. Mostly over the top.
Gun Use: Nothing stood out, but they also had laser guns on occasion.
Gore: No.
Creepy? Not even a little.
Monster Type? People.
Funny? When it needs to be. “Dry hair is for squids!”
Nudity: No.
Pacing: Pretty decent.

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