Blu-ray review: Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (1991)

Trancers II

When last we saw Jack Deth, he had abandoned his future time in Angel City for a chance at a new life in the Los Angeles of the past (our present) with Lena (Helen Hunt). After a detour as a private detective in the short film Trancers: City of Lost Angels*, Deth has now become a “commodities” trader with his new pal Hap Ashby (Biff Manard) and has done well for himself. Hap, Jack and Lena share residence at a nice estate, but the latter wants Jack to move out with her so that they can start a life of their own.

Domestic problems aren’t the only troubles Jack faces, however. An insane environmentalist by the name of Dr. E.D. Wardo has had his body taken over by his descendent and is bent on world domination. Armed with an ever-growing army of trancers and a desire to snuff out Deth (Wardo is Whistler’s brother!), he must be stopped. Throwing another wrench into the machine is trancer hunter Alice Stillwell (Megan Ward). Permanently trapped in the body of her young descendent, Alice is Jack’s wife from the future whom he thought dead. Needless to say, this romantic triangle that Jack is tossed into doesn’t please Lena too much. The gang wouldn’t be complete without Jack’s boss McNulty (Art LaFleur) running around in the body of his little girl ancestor (Alyson Croft), now a 15 year-old with McNulty’s penchant for cigars and scotch.

Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth lacks some of the scrappy charm of the original, but it mostly makes up for it with a higher budget, increased thrills and a more humorous tone. It’s campy but incredibly fun from start to finish. Richard Lynch is always a welcome addition to any film, especially when playing the part of the villain as he does here. If he weren’t enough, we also have cult thespian Jeffrey Combs and two-time Bond girl (and B-movie goddess) Martine Beswick as his cronies Dr. Pyle and Nurse Trotter. While they aren’t given as much to do as I would have liked, it is nonetheless a treat to see them sinistering up the place alongside Lynch.

On the technical side of things with this new Full Moon Features Blu-ray release, the picture is pretty great and probably the best this film has or will ever look. There are a few instances of damage here and there, but none last for more than a second or two. On the audio end of things, it falters a bit. While a marked improvement over the sound issues that the HD release of the first film had, it still isn’t quite up to par with similar cult releases from other companies. Still, it’s a solid release and the best treatment that this film will get here in the United States.

The extras are on par with other recent Full Moon releases. We are treated to a rather fun and informative feature commentary with director/producer Charles Band and stars Tim Thomerson and Megan Ward. The film’s 9 ½ minute vintage VideoZone “making of” (in SD) is also ported up and provides a nice look into the film’s production. We are also given the film’s trailer, a blooper reel, a photo gallery and some trailers for other Full Moon releases. A few retrospective interviews would have been nice, but that’s a relatively minor personal complaint on my part. All in all, this is a pretty solid release and certainly worth a look from Trancers and Full Moon fans alike.

Here’s the full disc breakdown, courtesy of Full Moon:

Trancers II Blu-rayThe Deth Saga Continues in High Definition!

Los Angeles, 1991. It’s been six years since Jack Deth wiped out the last of the Trancers – those zombie-like creatures whose mission is murder. Jack has rebuilt his life in the present with his new wife Lena. He’s also got a new job in commodities dealing with his old buddy, Hap Ashby, an ex-baseball hero. Now Jack’s got a strange feeling in his gut – the kind you get when Trancers are around. Jack’s sixth sense proves him right when he discovers a Trancer at Hap’s place, ready to go in for the kill. But Jack hasn’t lost his touch, and in a flash he eliminates the first of many Trancers to come. If that’s not enough, Jack learns that another special agent, Alice Stillwell, has been sent back “down the line” to the present to help fight the new wave of Trancers. Problem is, she’s Jack’s former wife, whom he thought dead, and she’s lost somewhere in Los Angeles. So Jack’s vacation is over. He’s back to his Trancer-hunting ways and must find and destroy the source of the new killer-zombies. They are actually led by Dr. Wardo, the brother of Whistler whom Jack killed five years ago. He must also find the missing Alice and decide whether to go back “up the line” with her, or stay in the present with Lena. Get ready for the ride of your life. TRANCERS II…it’s the sequel that makes history.

Remastered in high definition with brand new special features:
– Audio commentary by Tim Thomerson, Megan Ward, and Charles Band
– Original VideoZone making-of featurette
– Rare blooper real
– Rare photo gallery
– Original theatrical trailer
– Trailers for other Full Moon releases

*City of Lost Angels was shot in 1988 as part of an anthology film called Pulse Pounders. It was one of three shorts, the other two being a sequel to The Dungeonmaster and an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Evil Clergyman. The film was shelved after completion because Band’s company was going through financial difficulties but was rediscovered a few years ago. City features the entire main cast (sans the first film’s villain), this time with Jack taking on an assassin who has traveled back to take him out. It’s a charmingly little short, but it plays more like a TV episode than anything.