It’s time to look at Trancers 6. This time a fresh face, an attempt to revive the franchise and some humour at Deth’s expense. What could go wrong?
When I first put this on I fully believed that this was a student level production. But two things caused me to think again. Firstly, that’s implying student’s can only make terrible movies, they at least have a grasp of the fundamentals of film-making and the desire to make something worthwhile. Secondly, the inclusion of Robert Donovan, a character actor who is much, much better than the material here (however, you are forgiven for initially thinking it is Bryan Cranston.)
The plot line is wafer thin, however, there is a great deal of potential from some of the story ideas. Leaning on the idea of McNulty’s character from Trancers and Trancers 1.5 becoming a girl after nipping down the timeline, Deth is faced with the same predicament when arriving in the year 2000. The having uber-macho Jack Deth swanning around California in a flower emblazoned car and embodying a young lady is certainly a fun one.
The switch from Jack Deth to Jo Deth must have been made after Thomerson declined and this would also account for the extra few minutes added to the runtime to include footage for the gender change subplot. Jack is sent to the body of his 1980s ancestor’s daughter to do battle with more Trancers.
This switch is the only interesting aspect of the movie and once done there is nothing to keep your attention. The humour is aimed directly at Jack Deth having to wear a skirt and drive a Jetta with flower stickers. That’s about it. Aside from the unintentionally bad special effects and some embarrassing quips that even Thomerson would have difficulty pulling off the movie plods along with little of interest happening.
There is a definite drop in standards that will have you pining for the quality of the previous entries. The attempts of the filmmakers to hook onto the rest of the franchise are valiant, however, they fail miserably. A scene early on provides the inclusion of Thomerson’s incarnation of Deth, however, this is recycled footage from various entries throughout the whole franchise regardless of what movie Thomerson was in at the time and how he looked. Continuity is thrown out, just as long as the line makes a bit of sense in the conversation. Helen Hunt’s headshot is in here too, surprised she didn’t make it onto the poster as well.
Zette Sullivan plays Jo Deth and she seems a bit wasted. Whilst looking the part and showing some talent for what is a pretty demanding role. Sullivan only appeared in one other feature film, it’s unfortunate we never saw her develop as a screen actress. Robert Donovan fills the recognisable actor role, a veteran of this type of movie, he does give a decent performance as a reluctant scientist and gives the audience one little shred of professionalism to cling onto. He isn’t quite Walter White and this certainly isn’t Breaking Bad, just Bad. Weirdly there is a Howard Hamilin look-a-like in here too…
The film is simply badly made. A muddy and unfocused shooting style, Z-grade special effects, expense spared casting and a script that might not have cleared the first draft. I mean, they didn’t even bother to add a fun subtitle, Trancer 6: Jack’s Back… Sorta. Full Moon put this out the same year as William Shatner’s Groom Lake and I think perhaps they raided the budget of Trancers 6 to make Groom Lake and left the production with just enough for a bit of catering.
Director Jay Woelfel, who had oddly worked with Tim Thomerson the year previous on the equally poor Unseen Evil has contributed many low rent outings over the years, however, he would score a very slight win, again with Thomerson, in 2009 with Live Evil. Woefel’s name also pops up frequently as a composer and editor in the video market.
The Trancers movies have a limited appeal, mostly for goofy sci-fi B-movie lovers or Thomerson fans. The series has had more downs than ups but for the continuing story arc we can only hope that we might just see Deth striking back one last, grandiose time, but the likelihood of that is minimal. Stick with the first, the short City of Angels and III, avoid the rest.
Poster art is pretty good and in-keeping with the rest of the series. Certainly guilty of luring unsuspecting audiences into a subpar movie and initially being cheeky enough to plaster Thomerson face in the corner and a funky gun.