Several months back I was able to sit on the phone and interview one of my childhood heroes, Charles Band. Now, I’m sure some of you snotty a-holes are snickering and rolling your eyes but I grew up on Full Moon Pictures. If I wasn’t watching a Full Moon flick on Chicago horror host Svengoolie’s TV show, I was renting them on VHS.
This particular rental joint I used to go to was the sleaziest little place I had ever seen. The human skeleton that ran the place was a creepy, stinky old fuck that chain smoked something awful. His “store” was barely lit by a few old light bulbs and the tape slipcovers were all yellowed and brittle. God help me…I LOVED IT THERE. This guy carried more Full Moon, Italian horror and plain old sleaze than any place I had ever been to!
As long as your parent(s) had an account there and you had money in your hand, he’d rent you damn near anything you handed him. No questions asked. Occasionally, he’d wink at ya as he handed the tapes to you because he knew…OH YES…HE KNEW. Not ALL of the tapes you handed him were horror.
You can imagine my excitement when Full Moon announced they’d be importing a definitive Trancers box set from Australia! First Subspecies, then Demonic Toys / Dollman and now this?!! Folks, Charles Band hears his fans! He knows what we’re asking for and he’s making shit happen! How cool is that?
Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is your typical “renegade” cop living in the futuristic city of Lost Angeles. Trooper Deth does things his own way and has a personal score to settle with a group of mind-controlled “zombies” called, Trancers. These people are weak minded individuals or “squids” that do the bidding of Martin Whistler (Michael Stefani).
When Jack is re-assigned to new duties, he quits the force hoping to pursue piece of mind below the waters covering old Los Angeles. The Council isn’t about to let Jack Deth go quietly though when they send Deth’s superior, McNulty (Art LaFleur), to bring Jack back to The Council’s headquarters for an important meeting.
Apparently, Whistler isn’t dead and he’s found a way to eliminate those against him by sending his consciousness back in time and into the body of his ancestor. He plans to murder The Council’s ancestors in an effort to ensure they’re never born! He’s already succeeded in erasing one Council member, leaving the other two desperate for Jack Deth’s help.
The mission…go back in time, find The Council’s ancestors, protect them and bring Whistler back to Lost Angeles for trial. Jack is to take over the body of his ancestor Phil Deth (Tim Thomerson), a sleazy womanizing reporter. Things get complicated though when Jack jumps into the body of Phil Deth and gets emotionally involved with a girl Phil was banging named, Leena (Helen Hunt). To make matters worse, Whistler inhabits the body of his ancestor…police Detective Weisling!
After Jack misses the opportunity to stop Whistler/Weisling from turning one of the Council’s ancestors into a Trancer, they decide to bring him back and send somebody else. Jack just isn’t having that though and he convinces the remaining Council woman to allow him to go back and finish his mission. All he needs to do is locate a washed up alcoholic pro baseball player by the name of Hap Ashby (Biff Manard). Jack, Leena and Hap must all work together to stay alive as well as stop Whistler from bringing the future and the world to its knees!
Tim Thomerson is the epitome of B-movie bad ass. In my opinion, this film just wouldn’t be the same without him playing Jack Deth. He’s got this gritty, noir vibe that you just don’t see these days. I just wish that this box set would have done his work a bit more justice.
From a Full Moon fan and collector stand point; this box set is akin to a porn star with a cold beer wedged between her ass cheeks and a piping hot pizza balanced on her back. YEAH…IT’S LIKE THAT! You get Trancers 1 – 5 in one FREAKING BOX SET! The only thing this box set needed was part 6, despite being a shitty film.
The only real drawback to this box set is the lack of quality. The transfer on this particular installment was bad…like “1st generation VHS copy” bad. Not only that but it was presented in the full screen format! FULL SCREEN? C’MON! There’s even an instance toward the middle of the film when the audio/video blacks out which indicates this transfer was probably pulled from the original Laserdisc release. Now, I’m not being ungrateful because I love this box set but this can’t possibly be the kind of quality Charles is happy with.
Not long ago I was watching Joe Sarno’s Inga, released by E.I. Independent, and the special features contained a short featurette on the films restoration. All I kept thinking was, “If E.I. Independent / Shock-O-Rama can restore a film…why can’t Full Moon?” I’m sure most of the original elements are all sitting in a tin can in a Paramount warehouse but technology can do some amazing things nowadays! I’m almost positive a laserdisc transfer can be cleaned up and re-edited.
Bitching aside, I’ve gotta say, Charles Band definitely has vision. This film is just wonderful. Collectors and fans are going to love this box set. If you haven’t seen Trancers and you’re wondering if you should purchase the box set, rent the first film before purchasing, it’s still readily available. If you’re one of those cinemaphiles that are very particular about your formats and transfers…this is probably going to make you curl up in the fetal position.