TRANCERS. Empire Pictures, 1984. Tim Thomerson (Jack Deth), Helen Hunt, Michael Stefani, Art La Fleur, Telma Hopkins, Richard Herd, Anne Seymour. Written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo. Director: Charles Band.

   Opening lines:

Jack Deth: Last January, I finally singed Martin Whistler out on one of the rim planets. Since then, I’ve been hunting down the last of his murdering cult. We call them “Trancers:” slaves to Whistler’s psychic power. Not really alive, not dead enough. It’s July now, and I’m tired. Real tired.

   A corny bit of voice-over narration, perhaps, but it does two things exceedingly well. Not only does it set the scene of the story to follow, and but it also sets the tone, that of an overtly tongue-in-cheek sci-fi time travel tale in which Whistler intends to wipe out the City Council in 23rd century Angel City by traveling to the past (1985) and killing off their ancestors. (No, Whistler is not dead.)

   Jack Deth’s job: stop him. And thanks to the help of a punk rock girl named Leena (a very young Helen Hunt) who helps him find his way around Los Angeles, long ago destroyed by The Big One in his world, he does exactly that.

   After watching a short bit of a black and white PI rerun on TV:

Jack Deth: What kind of name is Peter Gunn?

Leena: What kind of name is Jack Deth?

   If Trancers was made on a low budget, it doesn’t really show. There are no expensive special effects to drive up costs, most of the players did not require large salaries, and everyday locations were all that were needed. That and a huge sense of wonderfully goofy fun, taking lots of elements from other bigger budget movies and mixing them all together into a film that no one should walk away from with a frown on their face.

PostScript: A cast and crew reunion was held last month in a store in Burbank. I’d have loved to have been there: