Blu-ray Movie Review – Trancers (1984)

Trancers
Directed by Charles Band
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Original Release Date: 1984
Blu-ray Release Date: July 15, 2014

trancers-blu-ray

I was nine years-old when I saw my first Charles Band feature; I will never forget it because it was also my first 3-D film. The movie was METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN, and it blew my mind. Without realizing it, I was immediately a fan of Band’s work and would go on to watch many of his future titles. But one movie that continuously eluded me was TRANCERS. I can’t tell you how many times I picked it up at the video store, but then put it right back down. I wanted to watch it…but usually found other titles to watch instead. I wish I had watched it, though, because I was missing out on an 80s science-fiction classic. The fine folks at Full Moon have released it on Blu-ray, and it will be a fine addition to any movie-lovers library.

If you are not familiar with TRANCERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon:

Welcome to Angel City, 2247. Trooper Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is wiping out the last disciples of Whistler, who used his psychic power to ‘trance’ those with inferior minds, forcing them to follow his every desire. Though he’d been thought dead, he’s very much alive… in the year 1985.

Whistler’s master plan – kill the ancestors of the City Council. With the Council disbanded, nothing can stop him from controlling the city. And that’s where Deth comes in. Jack is sent back in time, inhabiting the body of his ancestor. Just one problem: Whistler’s ancestor is a police detective, and he’s trancing people in 1985. With the help of a strong-willed punk girl, Lena (Helen Hunt), he must find and protect Hap Ashby, a former baseball pitcher now living on Skid Row, and confronts Whistler.

The Trancers saga begins.

It still amazes me just how much Band can accomplish with a minuscule budget. The guy is as masterful with money as Lloyd Kaufman! This is a huge testament to how far a man can go when he has a vision and direction.

TRANCERS is shot well and looks good onscreen, although it has the typical early 80s feel to it. This is not a negative by any means, but you cannot expect big-budget style from films like this.

The acting is good, with both Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt bringing their characters to life with vivid detail. Both were practically screen vets prior to shooting this film, however their onscreen chemistry makes it feel like we are seeing them for the first time. And Hunt portraying a punk girl…well, that is definitely a sight to see in its own right!

The special effects in TRANCERS are what you would expect from an early 80s film, however they are quite impressive when you consider the budget. This was made years before CG was prevalent, so the production team did a good job with what money they had. I particularly like the car that Deth pulls up in during the opening scenes; it has a very ‘MEGAFORCE’ type feel to it.

The story itself is very intriguing, and I like how it uses time-travel as a backdrop instead of focusing on it as a primary plot component. Also, the concept of how they travel back is original and fun; I would very much like to inhabit one of my ancestor’s bodies for a while, just to see how life differed back then.

TRANCERS is a big win for me, and seeing it on Blu-ray is a real treat; the HD looks and sounds great. If you’re a fan of Full Moon films or 80s features, this is a definite must-see. The Blu-ray comes with several special features, including:

* Audio Commentary by Tim Thomserson and Charles Band
* Daniel Griffith’s Trancers Featurette
* Rare Interview with Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, and Megan Ward
* Complete Trancers: City of Lost Angels Segment from the Pulsepounders Trilogy
* Rare Stills Gallery
* Rare Full Moon Trailers

MSB

Movie Review – Ironclad: Battle for Blood (2014)

Ironclad: Battle for Blood
Directed by Jonathan English
Courtesy of XLrator Media
Release Date: August 5, 2014

ironclad

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I really enjoy movies that contain big battle scenes. By big, I mean huge as in scale and focus. This means many people (or creatures) fighting against many others on a big battlefield. When done well, this looks great onscreen and provides a monumental backdrop for which drama (and bloodshed) unfolds. Director Jonathan English is very familiar with big battles, and his return to Medieval England in this IRONCLAD sequel is just as entertaining as the original.

If you are not familiar with IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of XLrator Media:

Steel yourself for another brutal battle, as one of the few survivors of the Great Siege of Rochester Castle fights to protect his family’s estate from fierce Celtic raiders. With a new battleground and a new enemy, IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD delivers the same ferocious, adrenaline-filled action that defined IRONCLAD. Tom Austen (“The Borgias”) and Michelle Fairley (“Game of Thrones”) star in this exciting new adventure from the director, writers, and producers of the original IRONCLAD.

When I first heard about IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD, I was very intrigued. The first IRONCLAD is based partially on fact (and I say that loosely, as many liberties were taken with adapting the historical account to a movie), so I wasn’t sure what direction English could take with a sequel. Interestingly, he chooses a plot-line that could possibly have happened in that time period.

Like its predecessor, IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD is shot well and looks great onscreen. The locations and backdrops used are excellent and set a dark and believable tone for the film. Also, the production team does a great job of creating a plausible Medieval world thanks to specific detail-work and research.

The acting is pretty good, although I would not classify it as stellar. I do enjoy seeing the lovely and talented Michelle Fairley onscreen; I first saw her in GAME OF THRONES and am now a big fan of her work. Likewise, Tom Austen does a great job in the primary role of Guy the Squire. I have not seen him act before, but I enjoyed his performance here and look forward to more of his work. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast seems a bit bland. This didn’t detract a whole lot from the movie for me, however I do feel it is worth mentioning.

The action in IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD is top notch, and the fight scenes are brutal and intense. The battles are blood-drenchingly realistic depictions of how actual combat probably was back in those days. I love this aspect of the movie, and I have to confess it was one of the major draws for me.

IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD is a good follow-up to the original IRONCLAD, and fans of the first should enjoy this one as well. Be sure and check it out on Blu-ray so you can savor every HD detail and see every blood-burst in vivid clarity. The film hits store shelves today, so give it a look for sure.

MSB

DVD Prize Pack Giveaway over at Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror

My buddy Hayes over at Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror is doing another giveaway. This time it’s for a wicked DVD prize pack from Wild Eye Releasing that includes the following:

– a copy of THE BLOODY APE on DVD
– a copy of GOTH KILL on DVD
– a GOTH KILL mini poster

Click here to hop over to his site and enter. All you have to do is leave your name and e-mail address…it’s that easy! Check it out asap, before time runs out!

MSB