Friday, October 6, 2017

Movie Review: "Scanners" (1981)

Director: David Cronenberg
Year: 1981
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

A company that studies people known as 'Scanners' uses their latest discovery, a particularly powerful 'Scanner,' to search for another extremely dangerous 'Scanner' with similar abilities.

"Scanners" is a sci-fi horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg. It stars Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale, who is what this film refers to as a 'Scanner'. A Scanner is a person with extrasensory abilities. Scanners are typically telepathic and can sometimes even be telekinetic. These individuals can pair to anything with a nervous system. Cameron has been living as a crazy homeless man for most of his life. He constantly hears voices, but he is unaware these voices are actually the thoughts of others. It must be quite shocking to spend your whole life thinking you're a severe schizophrenic only to discover you are more like Professor Charles Xavier. Cameron is discovered by Dr. Ruth, played by Patrick McGoohan, and the company ConSec. ConSec studies Scanners and tries to help them control their powers, but has also uncovered possible military uses for these abilities. When a particularly powerful Scanner named Darryl Revok, played by Michael Ironside, uses his abilities to literally explode the head of a ConSec Scanner, Dr. Ruth sends Cameron to hunt him down.

David Cronenberg is known for making bizarre movies, especially in the earlier part of his career. "Scanners" is certainly weird, but when compared to some of the other films in his library like "Videodrome," "The Brood," or "Naked Lunch," this is far more straight-forward and is one of his least confusing films. Straight-forward, just with exploding heads.

This is an extremely interesting movie that plays on the fears of the unknown. The fact that Scanners can live among us undetected and have the power to read thoughts, control your actions, or even kill you with simply their mind is a freaky proposition. We get the full image of their abilities very early on. As mentioned above, the exploding head scene is iconic...and gross, very, very gross. There are some elements of this flick that could be viewed as a bit corny, primarily the faces that are made while people are scanning or being scanned. It often looks like the actors are attempting to take a very uncomfortable dump after a couple of days worth of constipation. The pacing of this movie can be a bit slow from time to time, but the slow-paced story gets broken up nicely with good bloody action sequences. This all leads to an epic Scanner showdown between Cameron Vale and Darryl Revok full of amazing makeup and effects work. It's an intense scene that will leave a lasting impression on the audience. It's certainly one we won't forget anytime soon.

If you are a fan of classic horror movies or David Cronenberg as a director, "Scanners" is an absolute must watch. It's bizarre, wonderful, intriguing, though a little bit dated.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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