Sunday, July 27, 2014

TRANCERS (1984) The Ultimate Edition Blu-ray

TRANCERS (1984) 
The Ultimate Edition Blu-ray 
Label: Full Moon Features
Region Code: Region FREE
Duration: 76 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround
Video: HD Widescreen
Director: Charles Band

Cast: Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Michael Stefani, Art La Fleur, Telma Hopkins

In TRANCERS (1984) we have Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson, DOLLMAN) who is a grizzled, chain-smoking Trooper from the year 2247. Troopers are a specialized police force tasked with tracking down Trancers who are weak willed people that have been "tranced" by master-criminal Martin Whister (Michael Stefani) who "trances" victims into zombie-like slaves. It is assumed at the start of the film that Whistler died during a previous encounter with Deth but his zombie disciples still plague the citizens. These "trancers" appear normal until they are triggered and become violent killers. Deth has encounters a trancer at a diner and but his loose cannon tactics have angered his superiors. He quits only to be summonsed back into service after it is discovered that Whistler has traveled through time to the year 1985 with plans to wipe out the ancestors of the ruling Council. 

I do love how time travel is achieved in the film - a serum is ingested that allows the conscious mind to travel back through one's own bloodline and inhabit the body of an ancestor - that's awesome and I am surprised it hasn't been used elsewhere. In Whistler's case he has traveled "down the line" and into the body of Weisling  - a Lt. in the LAPD circa 1985. Whistler plans to systematically eliminate the blood relatives of the 2247 City Council members and he seems to be succeeding as only one Council member survives in the future. Deth is given a baseball card to assist in identifying the surviving councilman's ancestor in 1985, a down on his luck baseball player named Hap Ashby (Biff Manard). Deth arrives in the past in the body of his ancestor Phil Denton, a journalist who loves the ladies - his latest conquest is Lena (Helen Hunt, AS GOOD AS IT GETS). I've never thought of Hunt as a very attractive woman but she's not without her charm as what I can only say is an ill conceived punker. Jack is attacked by a mall Santa who turns out to be a trancer. He kills the trancer in front of a crowd of kids and alarmed parents and he and Lena flee the mall. Whistler as Lt. Weisler arrives on the scene and sends out an APB on Jack for the murder of the store Santa. Definitely a film that will forevermore be on my Christmas to-watch list, this was fun stuff, "Security, we've got trouble at the North Pole."

Trancers is definitely more a sci-fi action film than horror and while the budget is low I admired the films futuristic elements. Thomerson is definitely channeling Bogart as a noir styled gumshoe from the future on the set of a low-budget BLADE RUNNER. Deth has a small assortment of gadgets including the "long second" wrist watch which enables him to slow down time for a very brief period. Let me just say the scenes of slow-mo are not quite up to par with bullet-time from the the MATRIX but I enjoyed it.

Trancers is a fun science fiction actioner with a fun cast that is topped off by the awesome Tim Thomerson who has a certain charm not unlike Tom Atkins (HALLOWEEN III), an acerbic detective with no shortage of Eastwood styled one-liners.

Blu-ray: The new remastered Blu-ray from Full Moon presents the film in 1080 HD in an attractive 1.78:1-framed aspect ratio. Not sure if this is sourced from the original negative but there is a heavy layer of film grain and with it some noise and minor print damage. A few small qualms aside this is quite an attractive presentation and the sci-fi film has never looked better.

Audio options include English Dolby Digital stereo and an unimpressive 5.1 surround sound mix - typically FM have opted to not include a lossless audio option - there are no subtitles. 

Onto the extras we have an entertaining audio commentary with director Charles Band and star Tim Thomerson who are in my eyes the FM equivalent of sitting down to listen to John Carpenter and Kurt Russell.  There's also a Ballyhoo Motion Pictures produced making-of documentary with new interviews from Charles band, Tim Thomerson and writers Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (THE ROCKETEER).

There are also vintage interviews with Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, and Megan Ward and a still gallery featuring TIME COPS poster art and the Eternity Comic TRANCERS covers. A neat addition is the TRANCERS: CITY OF LOST ANGELES (1988) segment from the Pulsepounders anthology - a short film that fills in the gap between the first film and the sequel. 


Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary by Tim Thomserson and Charles Band
- Daniel Griffith's Trancers Featurette CYBERCRIME: THE MAKING OF TRANCERS (14:27) HD
- Rare Interview with Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, and Megan Ward (1:59) HD
- Complete Trancers: City of Lost Angels Segment from the Pulsepounders Trilogy ((24:29) HD
- Rare Stills Gallery (1:37) HD
- Rare Full Moon Trailers

A fun sci-fi entry from Full Moon starring the always enjoyable Tim Thomerson that's worth the upgrade with sweetened PQ and a fun assortment of value-added extras - an easy recommend for fans of low-budget fun. 

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