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Feature


Jack Deth – a bounty hunter in the bleak Los Angeles of the future. He's become obsessed with chasing Whistler – an evil criminal who uses powerful hypnotic powers to convert people into zombie like creatures known as trancers. Whistler has managed to escape through time travel and is loose in 1980s L.A. but Deth is on his trail. (Taken from the PR)

Video


The PR claims that the image here was newly restored from the original camera negative. This may well be true, but if so it's not one of the more impressive restorations I've seen of late. For one thing there are still a number of fairly conspicuous film artefacts on show throughout the entirety of the running time, including one very large reel change marker. The image also looks a little ‘grubbier’ than many others from the era, but I concede that could well be an unavoidable consequence of the original photography. Detail is adequate but far from impressive, looking fuzzy in comparison to some of the better 2K/4K restorations of similar genre titles. Compression is also sporadically problematic, although there are no major issues. The biggest positive is the strong, natural colour rendition, with the neon-drenched locations evoking strong memories of other eighties features such as Streets of Fire, The Terminator and even Bladerunner. When viewed on a comparative basis with more prominent films from the decade this isn't a particularly good looking transfer, but it is the best the film has ever looked on home video and I honestly doubt that we'll see a better version any time soon.

Audio


The disc includes both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. Unfortunately the former leaves a lot to be desired as a remix, presenting a relatively flat, artificial sound-stage. In all honesty this was one of those occasions when I preferred the original stereo mix over the multi-channel remix, so after a while I decided to start the film anew and switch to the original audio track. Although limited to just the two channels I found it to be a far more enjoyable experience, with stronger dialogue, greater presence for the electronic score, and a more natural overall sound. It's still severely limited, with muddy, indistinct effects and little stereo separation, but as with the video these issues can be traced back to the original sound design, so it seems harsh to be too critical. It's still a very average audio presentation, but acceptable when taken in context.

Extras


The disc includes a healthy collection of bonus material, which is outlined below.

  • Trancers: City of Lost Angels: This Pulse Pounders episode was part of an unproduced anthology series and was thought lost for twenty-five years. It appears here in a restored and completed form and acts as a sort of ‘Trancers 1.5’. It’s well worth a watch for the return of Thomerson, Hunt, and even the young girl who played McNulty’s ancestor in the original!
  • Flashback Weekend Trancers: City of Lost Angels Première Documentary: This is a short piece from the première of the 'lost' anthology episode, complete with fan reaction and a brief appearance from Charles Band in which he talks about completing it after so many years.
  • Pulse Pounders Show West Promo: A short VHS-quality promo for the unreleased anthology series.
  • Cybercrime: The Making of Trancers Documentary: This features director Charles Band, actor Tim Thomerson, and writers Danny Bilson and Paul de Meo discussing the film, all with varying levels of enthusiasm and recollection.
  • Feature length Audio Commentary by Director Charles Band and Star Tim Thomerson – An entertaining if slightly loose commentary track that sees the pair struggling to recall the finer details, often falling silent as they watch the movie to catch up. It's still worth listening to for the anecdotes and genial atmosphere though.
  • Rare Archive Interviews with Tim Thomerson, Megan Ward and Helen Hunt: An extremely short vintage piece with the stars of the first three Trancers movies.
  • High Definition Stills Gallery: A gallery of production and promotional stills.
  • Dungeonmaster Preview: Unrestored footage for the Dungeonmaster release, presented in 4:3 SD.
  • Trailers for Trancers 1-5: Trailers for the first five Trancers movies.
  • 88 Trailer Reel: Trailers for many of 88 Films' other releases.
  • Booklet Notes by Calum Waddell: Unfortunately we didn't have access to this for the review as we were supplied with an early sample product.
  • Newly Commissioned Artwork by Rick Melton
  • Reversible Sleeve Incorporating Original Artwork

Overall


Until recently I'd only seen Trancers during its original VHS release back in the mid-eighties, when I was around ten years old. It was only a few months ago that I tracked down a DVD copy of the film and to my surprise I found that I still enjoyed it all of these years later, warts and all. I still feel the same after this, my third viewing, and the Blu-ray release represents a significant step up in audio-visual fidelity. That's not to say it's particularly impressive compared to any modern production or even a half-decent restoration, but given its age and niche market the results aren't half bad. However, the highlight of this release for die-hard Trancers fans must surely be the extras, which are both plentiful and absorbing. They elevate what could have been a run-of-the-mill catalogue title into something that offers a genuinely interesting glimpse into low-budget eighties movie-making.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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