Plot: What’s it about?
Although they look like everyone else, scanners possess immense powers, ones that could cause massive damage, to be sure. A scanner is the name for someone with great psychic powers, powers so intense that mind control is possible, as well as other more destructive abilities. This means the scanners can enter someone’s mind and then take over, perhaps causing massive amounts of pain or permanent damage of some kind. Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) is a scanner and one of the most gifted ones, with powers greater than any other known scanner, but he isn’t letting those powers go to waste. He has started an underground movement of scanners, with the intent to someday revolt and overtake the normal humans, which is one heck of a plan, to be sure. He recruits young, gifted scanners into his numbers, but he hasn’t gotten to Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) just yet. In an effort to quash Revok’s evil plans, Vale has been asked by Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) to battle Revok and his minions, which won’t be a simple task, not by any means. Can an inexperienced scanner like Vale somehow find a way to defeat the powerful Revok, or is humanity doomed?
This movie has amassed a sizable fanbase and even spawned a number of sequels, though none have matched the original, not even close. Of course, Scanners is known for one reason to the general public, but it is also a terrific all around movie, I think. It treads the line of thriller and horror movie with ease, providing enough elements of both to please both audiences. The premise is fantastic and while it sometimes gets bogged down in the details, the storyline remains solid and never slows down too much. I do think the screenplay could have used some tweaks, but it works out well enough, in the end. With David Cronenberg’s ample direction, Scanners moves at a brisk pace and offers plenty of thrills, including a superb end sequence. You’ll also see some good performances and of course, dynamic special effects. You can tell this wasn’t made on a blockbuster sized budget, but Cronenberg and his crew make each cent count, and it shows. This movie is highly recommended to genre fans and since MGM has issued a basic, but worthwhile disc, this release is well worth a rental or purchase.
As usual, David Cronenberg is able to pile on the thrills and chills, with an effective blend of thriller, science fiction, and horror elements. I most often see Scanners in the horror section and with good reason, but as with most of Cronenberg’s movies, this is much more than your usual horror flick, to be sure. Cronenberg serves as writer & director for Scanners and as expected, he comes through on all fronts, though some flaws can be seen. As I mentioned above, his writing is more than solid, but sometimes the details can slow down the movie and complicate the storyline. This is never too much of a problem however, so I see no reason to complain much. Other films directed by Cronenberg include Dead Ringers, Videodrome, eXistenZ, The Brood, Crash, and The Fly. The cast includes Jennifer O’Neill (Cloud Dancer, A Force of One), Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, The Next Karate Kid), Stephen Lack (The Rubber Gun, Perfect Strangers), and Patrick McGoohan (Tv’s The Prisoner, Bravehart).
Video: How does it look?
Scanners is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As expected, the materials show some age signs, but this is a more than solid visual treatment, I think. The print has some marks and grain at times, but is cleaner than previous releases and in the end, is also more refined on the whole. The colors have a muted tone, but the film has always looked this way, so I assume it is an intentional style choice. The hues seem in order with the rest of the visuals, as contrast is stark and flesh tones look natural. Perhaps this is not the pristine treatment fans would like, but I think it is a terrific effort and fans shouldn’t have much to complain about.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here isn’t going to impress anyone, but the mono option is solid enough, as far as mono tracks are concerned. I heard no evidence of hiss or distortion, thanks to the clean, crisp materials used, which was good news. The sound effects and music are limited to the range mono allows, but come across in decent form, I think. I never found them to be overly restrained, but you could tell a surround mix might open up some scenes. The dialogue is clear and well balanced also, with no flaws in the least to mention. This disc also includes a French language option, as well as French and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.