While not a massive hit upon release, Trancers managed to gain a strong cult following over the years. Following its release, Charles Band started working on an anthology film called Pulse Pounders comprised of three 30-minute segments. These included The Evil Clergyman, an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, a sequel to The Dungeonmaster, and a Trancers sequel. Unfortunately, Empire Pictures folded in the late 80s, and the film was shelved for several years until it was rediscovered. The Evil Clergyman was released in 2011, and Trancers 1.5: City of Lost Angels was released in 2013. After Full Moon was formed and found success with Puppet Master, many more franchises were established, including Subspecies. Following Tim Thomerson's return in Dollman, Band decided to resurrect Trancers, with most of the original cast and crew returning. Released six years after the original, the result was 1991's Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth.
Six years after taking down Whistler, Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) and Lena (Helen Hunt) have been living the good life. They've been living with Hap Ashby (Biff Maynard), who's cleaned himself up and gotten rich after becoming a commodities broker. Back in the future, Deth's body has become calcified, so McNulty (Art LaFleur) goes down the line to help him. Now in the body of his 15-year-old ancestor (Alyson Croft), McNulty visits Jack, Lena, and Hap to deliver the news. Meanwhile, Deth's wife Alice Stillwell (Megan Ward), thought to be dead, is in the present and is onto something big. Turns out Whistler's brother E.D. Wardo (Richard Lynch) is creating new trancers using an environmental group as a front. Jack, Alice, Lena, Hap, and McNulty must team up to stop Wardo from creating his new trancer army. Will Jack be able to save the world while dealing with two wives?
Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth is an enjoyably fun film and a decent sequel, even with its flaws. Like the first film, Tim Thomerson's charisma is dripping all over the screen, delivering plenty of smartass quips effortlessly. He has great chemistry with both Helen Hunt and Megan Ward, who each have their moments to shine. Richard Lynch makes for a great villain, and Martine Beswick and Jeffrey Combs make for good accomplices. Alyson Croft, who also played McNulty's ancestor in the original, has tons of fun mimicking an older tough-guy cop. There's plenty of action to keep fans happy, and there are some great oneliners to go along with those scenes. The makeup effects for the trancers look pretty good, Band's direction is solid, and the music compliments the fun action. Plus, there's a cameo from Barbara Crampton, which makes everything better.
As much fun as Trancers II is, there are some things both technical and story-related that hinder its enjoyment. Firstly, it feels significantly cheaper than the first, which was also low-budgeted but felt like it had higher production values. There are several close-up shots of characters talking directly at the camera like they couldn't get all the actors together. Also, the few futuristic scenes look very slapdashed and thrown together compared to the stylish-looking future scenes of the original. Granted, you don't need a huge budget to make a great film, but these drops in quality are very noticeable. Plus, this film has a greater emphasis on comedy, which mostly works, but some of the jokes don't land. Despite these issues, this is still a fun sci-fi action film with some great characters and solid set pieces. Overall, Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth gets the job done well.
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