Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994)
Film review #486
Director: David Nutter
SYNOPSIS: Jack Deth is still stuck in another dimension on the planet of Orpheus following an accident while time travelling. He learns that the only way to get back home is to get the “tiamond” from an ancient castle of terror. However, the trancers that Deth previously defeated are out for revenge…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Trancers 5: Sudden Deth is a 1994 film and the fifth in the Trancers series. The film picks up right where the last film left off…but not before showing an eight minute recap of what happened in Trancers 4. Given that this is a Full Moon Features production, and they are notorious for padding out runtime, this shouldn’t be surprising. Trancers 4 and 5 were filmed back-to-back, so it’s no surprise that they flow almost seamlessly into one another, but the problem with that is they don’t really distinguish themselves from each other, and it stretches out the premise far longer than it needs to be. Throwing Jack Deth into a medieval fantasy world was bad enough, but making two whole films about it really prolongs the agony. The film also decides to resurrect the main villain from Trancers 4 less than twenty minutes in (less if you don’t count the re-cap) and with relatively little difficulty, which further cheapens any accomplishment of Deth defeating him in the first film.
This time around, Deth must travel to the adequately named “Castle of Unrelenting Terror” to acquire the Tiamond (Time + diamond…get it?) and use its powers to return to his own world. So the film has this “quest” as its main plot point, which really just involves some minor inconveniences along the way. There’s some attempted character development between Deth and Prospero, the son of villain Lord Calihan who turned against his Father, but its all a bit arbitrary. Nothing is really explained, and there’s very little attempt at world-building. The resurrection of Lord Calihan from a painting of him almost spontaneously raises questions that are never answered, and just replays the conflict of the previous film with very little else at stake. The rest of the cast is about the same, and offers nothing new, and most of the criticisms of the previous film still stands.
The Trancers franchise was never a blockbuster franchise, but deviating from its sci-fi Bladerunner/Terminator roots to this weird medieval setting has removed the series from anything that made it interesting. The only really interesting feature of the film again is Jack Deth himself, whose wise-ass character is still somewhat likeable and entertaining in his portrayal, although he is not given any of the decent one-liners or retorts that made him so. The setting really isn’t appropriate for the character of the franchise; maybe if they really pushed the “fish out of water” setup there could have been some funny moments with Jack’s no nonsense attitude, but as it stands there’s not much that this film contributes to the series, and a further slide down in the franchise’s quality.