Trancers (1985)

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

On the bubble of being better, cheesy '80s B-Movie

Terminator rip-off with no budget and over acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Trancers

Studio:  Empire Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  May 22, 1985

MPAA Rating:  R


Jack Deth versus Santa Claus…to the death!!!

Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) hates Trancers and hunts them for a living.  When he is sent back in time down his genetic line stop the killer of his wife Whistler, who inhabits the body of Weisling (Michael Stefani), Jack finds himself facing a Los Angeles police officer with a whole army of Trancers on his side.  Teaming with Leena (Helen Hunt), a girl his relative was having a one-night-stand with, Jack Deth must stop Whistler once and for all.

Directed by Charles Band, Trancers was the first film in a series of low-budget action/sci-fi/fantasy straight-to-video.  The movie now is often noted for having a pre-success Helen Hunt (who also appeared in the first two sequels) playing Jack’s girlfriend and future wife Leena.  The movie has been released in a collection with five of the other Trancer films.


Oh no! I totally overcooked the eggs!

Trancers started out a movie by Empire Pictures but became a Full Moon Production.  Full Moon was known in the ’90s for pumping out straight-to-video movies, and you can see why Trancers was a perfect fit for their series.  The movie has an ultra-low budget feel, but also is on the bubble of becoming something good.

The plot isn’t awful and has been the basis for tons of other films.  It obviously steals from The Terminator which was released the previous year.  The idea of eliminating threats by eliminating their ancestors was explored thoroughly in The Terminator, but Trancers mostly just goes for the “action” associated with the idea…no high tech machines…the movie just doesn’t have the budget for it.


I bet she performed this scene to get a role in As Good As It Gets

That is the biggest problem with Trancers.  It looks cheap…really cheap.  The most high tech aspect of the film is a time slowing watch that actually is used pretty effectively in the couple of scenes it comes into play.  A kind of fun aspect of the film is that it is very, very ’80s which is ok since it is firmly set in the ‘’80s as a time travel film.  It has that ’80s cheese that is kind of fun…and lots of obligatory “punks”.

Trancers is one of those movie that I kind of like…it is over acted and bad, but not bad enough to fit in the “so-bad-it-is-good” world.  The movie’s rather over-used plot at the time probably wasn’t as over-used so I have to give it some credit for being an early Terminator rip-off…I just wish the Trancers were more threatening.  With any time travel movie, you also get into the whole destruction of a reality aspect which the movie doesn’t bother dealing with nor does it deal with the question of why there aren’t so many more options available due to the time travel.  Trancers was followed by Trancers II:  The Return of Jack Deth in 1991.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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