Trancers III: Deth Lives (1992)

Trancers III

For the second entry to suck it comes as a pleasant surprise that Trancers III manages to kick some Squid butt! Maybe I expected very little from the 3rd Jack Deth outing but I certainly managed to find a joyous and entertaining time. It’s by no means a classic but still worth your time.

Whilst undergoing a divorce Jack is pulled out of the “present day” and back to 2247 to stop a major outbreak of Trancers and save the city. It’s refreshing that this entry spends most of its time in the future and whilst the budget is larger than any of the previous Trancers movies. There is a lot of creativity with the special effects and practical locations. The tone has been changed, especially when compared to the lightweight 2nd entry and the film is a lot darker, featuring a great deal more action.

The likely candidate for notable improvement is Charles Band taking a step back from direction. Instead C. Courtney Joyner is brought in. Whilst this is not a name you will likely recognise he does manage to put together a tighter and slicker movie than Band. With only a few directing credits Joyner seems to be a writer and staple of the Full Moon industry and it is he that we have to thank for Lurking Fear (However, he did “write” Trancers 6.) Adding to this is Thomerson who gives this his all after a pretty lazy performance in the second entry. Hats off to Helen Hunt who pops up in a cameo too, despite becoming a bit of a name, certainly she was a few years out from Twister but she was considered a serious actress.

The look and feel of this film is much more stylish. Trancers III is set in the future and therefore more studio based, with sets that feel built for the script. Trancers and Trancers II made use of contemporary locations in L.A. 

The cast has shed a lot of weight since the second with only Megan Ward and Thelma Hopkins returning, aside from Hunt and Thomerson. The big get for this instalment is Andrew Robinson as the evil Colonel, a fun nod to Dirty Harry as Jack Deth has shades of Harry Callahan. One time Leatherface, R.A. Mihailoff, plays the well designed Shark character, with an impressively imaginative mask.

Taking a much darker approach Trancers III is a bit more violent than the last two. It’s nice to see that Deth’s personal problems are not ignored as if the last movie never happened despite the tonal shift. Given that his catastrophic love life was a main story-line and followed so closely in the second outing, it would have been a shame to waste the time invested. And to the credit of the second outing, makes much of it worthwhile.

This is the Jack Deth show and Thomerson delivers the goods as Deth. He is witty, tough and morally on point as he swans around town. Whilst the first outing is easily the best, Trancers III would be my favourite, and this is due to the focus on Thomerson’s performance. Hunt was the perfect costar for the previous instalments, and it’s a fresher feeling to have more focus on Deth for this outing as he is a great character played to perfection.

Trancers III is a marked improvement over the second entry and proves to be the best sequel to the original. III leaves the door open for a sequel, whilst also closing off the ongoing story so far. It does feel that the main plot-line from Trancers III is quite typical of any 90’s sci-fi movie, with the word Trancer added to the odd scene to help keep it within the series. However, the addition of Jack Deth kicking a bit more ass than normal helps the film enormously.

Poster artwork is primarily based around the one image from the video poster. Some releases saw reused artwork form that was used for the first and second outings. The original video poster of Deth posing with a gun and cigarette is a tremendously nostalgic image for me as it was this poster that got me to start watching the series.


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