Trancers unabashedly steals from both Blade Runner (1982) and The Terminator (1984). Blade Runner started the stylistic blend of Cyberpunk future and pastiche of a hard-boiled 1940s detective thriller. Trancers actually serves as a far grander film noir parody than Blade Runner ever aspired to with Tim Thomerson giving a hilarious performance, waking in the morning to rub grease through his hair, lighting cigarettes with matches flicked alight from his teeth and dressed in shabby raincoat with several day old stubble as though someone had recast Philip Marlowe with Bill Murray or John Belushi.
Bilson and De Meo toss in nifty ideas the image of an L.A. that has sunken into the ocean after the collapse of the San Andreas faultline; Deths watch, which has the ability to compress the flow of time. On the other hand, some aspects definitely need more explanation like exactly how Whistler creates his trancers, with he seeming to act as little more than a hypnotist, which somehow causing the trancers to develop zombie-like makeup and even disintegrate into vapour in a red glow when killed. Plot holes seem to abound if it is possible for people to go back in time and inhabit the bodies of their ancestors why do the counsellors not simply inhabit their own bodies and move them to safety out of Whistlers way? Why do the other counsellors have memories of their erased ancestors surely if the ancestor was killed then they would never be born and nobody would remember them? Why for that matter does Whistler go all the way back to 1985 rather than simply a few days or a few years earlier and eliminate the counsellors themselves the further back one edits a timeline the greater the cumulative possibility for sweeping change in the present. (The answer of course is that it is much cheaper for the Bands to shoot contemporary than in the future). The action scenes, bar one forced-looking motorcycle chase, are competently conducted.
For a Band/Empire film (Empire being the Bands company that would also produce Ghoulies (1985) and Re-Animator (1985) the same year as Trancers), Trancers is an amazingly unpretentious and even entertaining film. Tim Thomerson established a witty presence and soon became a regular actor for the Bands and in other B-budget parts. One can also see a young pre-Academy Award Helen Hunt as the love interest how these Trancers films must have been an embarrassment to her later.
The Bands and Tim Thomerson made a number of sequels to Trancers: Trancers II/Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (1991), Trancers III (1992), Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994), Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1995) and Trancers 6 (2002). The first two pit Tim Thomerson against further trancers throughout time. The fourth takes him to an alternate dimension and the fifth into a fantasy world. The sixth revisits the present again, this time with Tim Thomerson inhabiting his daughters body.
Charles Band has produced over 200 films. As director, his other genre films include:- Crash (1977), Parasite (1982), The Alchemist (1983), Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983), an episode of The Dungeonmaster/Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate (1984), Pulse Pounders (1988), Crash and Burn (1990), Meridian (1990), Doctor Mordrid (1992), Dollman Vs. the Demonic Toys (1993), Prehysteria! (1993), Head of the Family (1996), The Creeps (1997), Hideous (1997), Mystery Monsters (1997), Blood Dolls (1999), Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003), Dr Moreaus House of Pain (2004), Decadent Evil (2005), Doll Graveyard (2005), The Gingerdead Man (2005), Evil Bong (2006), Petrified (2006), Dead Mans Hand (2007), Decadent Evil II (2007), Dangerous Worry Dolls (2008), Evil Bong II: King Bong (2009), Skull Heads (2009), Evil Bong 3D: The Wrath of Bong (2011), Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt (2011), The Dead Want Women (2012), Devildolls (2012), Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012), Ooga Booga (2013), Unlucky Charms (2013), Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong (2013), Trophy Heads (2014), Evil Bong 420 (2015), King of Cult (2015), Evil Bong: High 5 (2016) and Evil Bong 666 (2017).