Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994) — Make the pain stop, already

“Castle of Unrelenting Terror? I thought Cahuanga was a stupid name.”

Justin’s rating: Sometimes the terror relents, like when the end credits scroll.

Justin’s review: There’s a very specific pain that you can only experience if you’re trying to marathon a lengthy movie series. This pain typically kicks in by Part 4, at which point diminishing returns are in serious effect and the initial giddy fun of doing a whole series has been replaced by an almost inaudible whimper of “make it stop make it stop make it stop.” I’ve almost never met Part 5 of a movie franchise that had me jumping for joy, because by then they’re usually financed by a single March of Dimes donation bucket at Kroger’s and starring only the most desperate of the original cast.

So why go on? Because the end is in sight. Because you will forever have the right to call yourself “The Watcher of the Entire Trancers Franchise.” Because that entry on the series page will be incomplete until you do. Because you stuck your foot in it when you publicly announced you were doing this entire series and you’ll look like a fool if you don’t.

Yet I almost couldn’t bring myself to watch Trancers 5: Sudden Deth knowing that it was a direct continuation to the vastly underwhelming and non-entertaining Trancers 4. Like Oblivion and Oblivion 2, these two entries in the Trancers series are effectively one movie cut in half to sell more box copies.

After an unnecessarily long recap of the previous movie, events pick back up with Deth and his “tunnel rats” fometing rebellion against a ruling Trancer vampire class on a fantasy world. They’re winning, but to put a final cap on it, the good guys need to navigate the innards of “The Castle of Unrelenting Terror,” which the film crew rented in Europe for that weekend. Plus Caliban is back, because why not? Sequels call for villains to be resurrected for no good reason.

But if all goes well — and it probably will — Jack can get his hands on a “tiamond” that is bestowed with the power to send its owner to any time or place across the multiverse. Why he wants to go back home when he has a love interest here and an ex-wife who’s remarried over there, I have no idea, but Jack Deth isn’t the sort of character who operates according to logic and sense.

One thing that I’ll say in favor of Sudden Deth is that it feels more focused than Part 4 due to its main quest and bizarre castle exploration. Oh, there’s scads of padding and bad acting and a main actor who looks so tired of doing this, but it at least moves from Point A to B to C before wrapping it all up for good. The Castle of Unrelenting Terror is pretty cool for its unique challenges, including a zombie room and a place where Jack Deth faces off against his doppelganger.

I don’t know what’s worse: Having to put up with all of the boring side characters and their own lackluster plots or watching Thomerson descend into a deepening well of misogyny and grumpiness. It’s all a far cry from the cheeky original with all of its time travel and Helen Hunts. Considering that this was Tim Thomerson’s last run at the Trancers franchise, it’s such a sad way to see him go out.

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