(Interested readers can check out my review of Trancers, the first movie in the series, here.)
When you’re making an unapologetically low-budget B-movie like Trancers II, you can get away with a whole lot; your audience is expecting cheese, so you might as well serve it up. Huge chunks of plot exposition in the first few minutes? Sure. Rewriting the canon to fit the current plot? Go for it. More mindless violence for the sake of showing exploding blood packets? Oh yeah. This film is the perfect follow-up to Trancers: it’s silly, doesn’t take itself seriously, and expands the Trancers universe just enough to provide an entertaining surprise here and there.
Tim Thomerson continues the role he was born to play: Jack Deth, now the bodyguard to Hap Ashby. Hap’s on the wagon (for the most part), and has become a wealthy commodities broker. Jack’s wife Lena, played by Helen Hunt, complicates things by wanting to buy a house of their own instead of living in Ashby’s palatial estate.
And then Whistler’s brother shows up, Trancers appear, and everything goes to hell.
Yes, it’s Whistler’s brother. Not his son, because it’s funnier to have a character named Whistler’s brother, especially when Whistler’s brother is the leader of a radical environmental cult group bent on taking over the world with herb-fueled zombie Trancers. Remember: this movie was made in the early 90’s, when you could get away with making fun of environmental whackos. Today you’d be thrown in jail as a Global Warming Denier for even considering the script.
While the story is all over the place compared to the first film, Trancers II makes up for it by populating the cast with three B-movie titans: Jeffrey Combs of Reanimator and From Beyond fame as Dr. Pyle; Barbara Crampton (also from Reanimator and From Beyond) in a thankless role as a TV interviewer; and Richard Lynch, who’s been the bad guy in so many movies and television shows that his sere, aquiline visage must haunt the media-fueled nightmares of everyone born before 1975. It does mine, at least.
One of the most remarkable elements of the movie is the bizarre, only-in-science-fiction love triangle that occurs: Jack Deth’s first wife is time-traveled just before her death to stop Whistler’s brother in the past where Jack lives with his second wife Lena. (No, the sentence doesn’t make a lot of sense. Deal.) So now Lena and the first Mrs Deth must share Jack, at least for a little while. This situation is so untenable that Lena shouts, in frustration, “You’re a bigamist, Jack!” But what’s a man to do? In Jack’s timeline he was a widower. Now he’s got two wives to deal with, one of whom has been implanted into a young, nubile teenage body.
More scenes were played for laughs than in the first movie, which is fine: the heavy, apocalyptic theme could use a little lightening. The baseball game with the drunks wasn’t as funny as intended. The exploding ham was hilarious because food is always funny. The Long Second Watch now includes a Tapback feature, which you’ll have to see to believe. Mcnulty returns as an even more obnoxious teenager. People inexplicably and instantly turn into Trancers, and disappear exactly like The Invaders when Jack shoots them to death. The final confrontation makes little sense.
It’s a great sequel. Did you like Trancers? You’ll dig Trancers II.