Trooper Jack Deth is the hero of Charles Band's Trancers film series, that were started up by Empire Pictures in the 1980s. Further outings continued under Band's next film company Full Moon Entertainment in the 1990s. A further sequel was filmed in 2001 and released in 2002, with the original Trancers included as a bonus.
Played by actor / comedian Tim Thomerson in five out of the six films, Jack Deth is a Police Trooper / Trancer Hunter from the 23rd Century who uses a method of time-travel to inhabit the body of his last known relative, a journalist named Philip Deth.
Trancers are Zombie like sub-humans (nicknamed "squids"), who pledge their lives to their power hungry (and often psychic) leaders in each of the six films. At first, they look normal, but will become savage when in trancing mode. According to Deth, trancing only works on people with weak minds, although later entries introduced other themes, including outer space, botany and vampires which made this statement less suggestive.
Deth can identify a trancer by scanning them with a special bracelet (as seen in the first movie) and then scorch them using a "heater", which (according to the comics) is the name of Deth's plasma powered gun.
When we are introduced to Jack in the original Trancers, he is a widowed cop / bounter hunter from the year 2247, working in Los Angeles (now flooded out by the ocean following a massive earthquake, and renamed Angel City). Jack briefly retired from the police force for neglecting his duties, when he chose to continue depleting the many disciples of his nemesis, Martin Whistler, whom he believed was already dead.
Unkown to Jack, Whistler had instigated a plan to return to the year 1985 using the body of his ancestor, Detective Weisling, in order to hunt down and murder the ancestors of the three Angel City counselers. Jack was recruited by the council to return to LA using a time drug that regressed his consiousness. This bizarre technique enabled people to inhabit the body of an ancestor before a time machine was built.
After it became apparant what Whistler's plans were, Jack was transfered by Ruthie Raines into the body of Los Angeles journalist Philip Deth, and was sent a box containing a "long second" watch with a single use generator, as well as a couple of photos of the people he was suppost to safeguard, and a revolver containing two viles of time serum. This was intended to send Whistler back to 2247 without a vessel, as Jack had destroyed Whistler's body in his own time. The other was to be used on Jack himself, so he could get back home.
Jack / Phil and Phil's girlfriend Lena (Helen Hunt) teamed up to stop Whistler, surviving two attacks at a shopping mall and tanning parlour, but were too late in saving two out of the three ancestors, leaving only Hap Ashby, a former baseball pitcher turned hobo, and ancestor of the only surviving council member, Margaret Ashe.
Jack was temporarily extracted from the mission by his boss McNulty in the body of a little girl, until Jack convinced Chairman Ashe to send him back so he could complete the mission. Shortly there after, Jack and Lena discovered that Whistler was monitoring hobos on Skid Row, because Hap was one of the hobos living out on the streets. After escaping from Whistler's police goons and saving Ashby from Whistler, Jack lured Whistler to China Town using Lena and Ashby to distract Whistler. Jack managed to effectively destroy the evil Whistler using the serum. This was done so Jack could save the life of Weisling, the innocent police chief whom Whistler had possessed. But because the other vile got broken, Jack had to remain in LA with Lena and Ashby, which suited him perfectly.
The Return of Jack DethEdit
Prior to the release of the second film, Charles Band had attempted to do a sequel, which was later included as part of an unreleased anthology film called Pulse Pounders.
After killing Whistler, Jack married Lena, the love of his life. They peacefully lived in a large estate with Ashby, until they came under threat from Whistler's brother, Dr. E.D. Wardo in the year 1991. With the help of Lena, McNulty, Ashby, and Jack's resurrected future wife Alice Stillwell, Jack managed to foil a trancers conspiracy instigated by the organisation known as GreenWorld, who had been mass producing the illegal 21st Century herb, Scurbosa. With Wardo dead, Jack was suppost to go back with Alice in the newly built TCL Chamber. But Jack chose to stay with Lena. Realizing Alice was on borrowed time, Jack used the TCL Chamber to send Alice forward in time, so she could live on in the far away future.
More than 1 year later, Jack's marital status with Lena was in jeopardy. Lena filed for a divorce, due to Jack's obsession with his work, and they were on the verge of reconciling their relationship one night. However, Shark, a super tough android, kidnapped Jack and brought him back to the future by order of the council. In the future, a stronger breed of trancers had left Angel City at a standstill. McNulty had been replaced by Harris, and Jack was instructed to go back in time to 2005 using the TCL Chamber, so he could destroy the trancers at their source.
Lena remarried during the time Jack had been away from her, changing her surname to Forrest. When Jack found her again, she had become a successful journalist, out to exploit the maniacal Col. Muthuh, played by Dirty Harry's Andrew Robinson. Jack believed the girl in Lena's house was a child she had with her current husband. He eventually finds out in Trancers 6 that the girl (Josephine) was his own daughter. The council did not tell Jack about her sooner, in order to spare his feelings.
With the help of a trancer escapee named R.J. and Shark, Jack was able to stop Col. Daddy Muthah and his trancers, after they had been captured and held in their base of operations. However, R.J. succumbed to the trancing drugs she was inflicted with, and Jack had to kill her before she lost total control of her senses.
Following the mission, the council appointed Jack the official peacekeeper of time, and he was giving a new partner - Shark. Together, they searched for anomalies in time and worked to mend them. ("Time is fluid," he says, "And I'm the guy who makes sure the glass doesn't get knocked over.")
Jack of SwordsEdit
After losing his partner Shark, Jack was tasked with going to an undisclosed time period in Kansas, which enabled the writers to insert a jokey reference to Judy Garland's famous line in The Wizard of Oz. Unfortunately, a plant creature known as a Solonoid interfered with the TCL Chamber, and Jack wound up trapped in the mystical world of Orpheus, which was under the reign of vampiric trancers, collectively known as Nobles. They fed on the human populice, and if their victims turned a glowy red, this meant they were in grave danger, according to observation.
Trancers 4: Jack of Swords and Trancers 5: Sudden Deth saw Jack engage in a fierce battle with the mighty Caliban, where his weapons had no effect. Jack eventually fulfils a fortold prophecy, which leads to Caliban being temporary banished, with the help of a rebel group called the "Tunnel Rats" and Calbian's son Prospero, who had chosen to align himself against his Father.
Following their victory, Jack and Prospero journeyed to a dangerous territory called the Castle of Unrelenting Terror, where they had to search for a talisman called the Tiamond, which (as the name suggests) was a diamond-shaped jewel about the size of a fist. The Tiamond was Jack's only hope of returning to his own world, as the TCL Chamber had been destroyed when he arrived in Orpheus.
Once inside the terrible structure, Jack and Prospero overcame many challenges, in the vein of the twelve labours of Hercules. Jack also defeated an evil doppelganger of himself. By doing so, he was presented with the Tiamond, which was almost stolen by Caliban after he was revealed to be the wolf who fought off their attacker in the woods. After being injured by Caliban, Jack uses the Tiamond to send himself and Prospero back to LA after Prospero kills Caliban. Because of the time difference, Prospero was no longer a Noble, and he told Jack he wanted to stay for a while.
While stranded in Orpheus, Jack also had a short-lived relationship with Lyra, an alternate dimensional version of a scientist he met in his own time, but she proved to be far from the intelligent woman he knew back in LA. Jack also inpregnated her, although this plot point was quickly dropped from the main storyline. No mentioning of this plot point existed in the next instalment of the series, Trancers 6. Nonetheless, it can be speculated that Josephine has a half-sibling in Orpheus.
Life After DethEdit
Trancers 6 starred Zette Sullivan as Josephine, the daughter Jack never knew he had fathered back in 1992. Jack inhabits her body in order to stop the latest generation of trancers, who are being lead by Shauna Wilder (Jennifer Capo).
Jack Deth only appears briefly in Trancers 6, via poorly edited archive footage that is used to open the film, just before Jack is sent back in time to 2022. Council worker Dr. Jennings witnesses Jack's daughter being attacked at knife-point while doing a routine check of the timebelt. If the girl is killed by her attacker, then Jack will cease to exist "up the line", which refers to the future. While Jack's body is left in Jennings' lab, he begins to fade there, indicating that Josephine must overcome the threat before Josephine (and Jack) are to be murdered.
Dr. Jennings shows up in the body of his ancestor (who happens to be a hooker) and tells Jack that a DNA trace proved that Josephine was his daughter. The subsequent mission was a success, and the movie's ending suggests a passing of the torch from Jack to Jo. Jack remains in Jo's body, like how he had remained inside Philip. However, no further sequels have been made as of 2008.
The Malibu Comics subsidary Eternity Comics released a Special Edition comic book based on Trancers, with similarities to the first two films, that had previously been made available as two separate issues.
An action figure / doll of Jack Deth was planned for a limited release. But the collapse of Full Moon prevented this from happening. It can still be viewed on certain fan websites.