TRANCERS 6Produced by Johnnie J. Young
Directed by Jay Woelfel
Written by Gene Yarbrough
Edited by Jay Woelfel and Johathan Ammon
Director of Photography - Paul Deng
Jack/Jo Deth - Zette Sullivan
Shauna - Jennifer Capo
Dr. Paul Malvern - Robert Donavan
Mr. Castle - Ben Bar
Sam - Jere Jon
Be warned, there is no Tim Thomerson in TRANCERS 6, or at least no new footage of the man. And let's face it, his Jack Deth is really the reason this series has lasted all these year. Thomerson's hardboiled charisma lends credence to the trenchcoat crowd looking for any iconoclastic figure to give them mainstream acceptance. Besides, his lovably hyper-macho attitude parodies all the conventions of pulp dime novels without ever lampooning them, or insulting the audience.
What little we get to see is culled from earlier entries in the series, which I admittedly haven't seen. In fact, I haven't seen CHARLIES BAND's original TRANCERS since it premiered on cable back in the mid-1980's. I remember liking the movie, but not enough to seek out the sequels upon their release. Apparently, without even realizing it, the film had a deep impact on my upbringing. Not even remembering where I copped it from, I quoted the numerous variations on the "dry hair's for squids" line well past my college years. My old roommate Mike never could figure out what my hang up was with the Navy...
Taking a sexual identity gag from the original TRANCERS a step farther, the consciousness of Jack Deth is sent from to future to inhabit the body of his daughter, Josephine, who came to being after Jack's time with 20th Century gal, Lena. That might sound a little confusing, but apparently the other sequels help make all this clear.
Standing in for Thomerson is Zette Sullivan, a pretty and petite gal who is quite possibly Thomerson's universal opposite. When playing the flowery girlie-girl that is Josephine, Zette is cute as a button and perfectly cast. But as Jack, things go terribly wrong. Zette tries, and tries hard, to deliver her noir dialogue with conviction, but just can't master Thomerson's timing or delivery. Her demeanor gets in the way.
Despite Zette's not-quite-there mastery of the character, I still found her delightful to watch. Half the fun came from watching her spout dialogue that was so obviously out of place for her. If Zette reprises the role in the future, and I truly hope she does, it might be better if she plays up the role and has fun with it. Maybe the writers could explore Jack's conflicted sexual identity. Seriously, Jack Deth is as male as it gets, what's he going to be like when it's that time of the month and the cramps or PMS sets in?
Structurally, I found the story more fulfilling than the original, which was marred by some final act complications, in other words the story jumped from point to point with no connecting threads or development. TRANCERS 6 is a more well-rounded and cohesive story that, granted, moves along tritely at times with the revealing of clues/information done a little too pat, but in the end Jack/Jo is a detective and it's refreshing to see him do some legwork. Perhaps next time this will be explored further as well, taking the series farther into its noir roots.
Part of the reason I've grown so fond of the series so quickly (and yes, I've gone out and rented most of the series after viewing T6) is how it deals with social themes concerning the homeless and destitute. Unlike so many other Full Moon outings, this one isn't so much concerned with the educated upper crust and their angst, but instead deals with the meek and the weak, who aren't shown as people to be pitied, just helped. In all the character's gruffness, and as much as he might hate the comparison, Jack Deth is the ultimate liberal not-for-profit humanitarian battling singular-minded governmental zombies who prosper on the easily manipulated through mass media. This is no clearer than in TRANCERS 6, where the Trancers use a rock, with no apparent intelligence or personality (like there is any other kind of rock), to send flashes of programming information through the eyes of the hopeless. I'm a republican, and even I'm not blind to the comparison of George Bush Jr. and his use of television to bestow reassurance upon an America who just wants to hear that everything is "okay" concerning their place in the world.
While not the best of the recent Full Moon releases, Jay Woelfel's TRANCERS 6 is a worthy entry into the TRANCERS series that shows some potential for things to come, especially regarding new territory for a franchise that's grown tired with recent installments.
The DVD from Full Moon runs short on features with only a trailer vault of recent releases and a montage of deleted and extended scenes. As a bonus, and probably the main reason this disc will sell, is the inclusion of the original TRANCERS. The print is murky, but the movie is still fun after all these years.