Director: David Cronenberg
Year: 1980
TRT: 1:43

Reviewed: 12/08/02

First off, I must commend the folks at MGM for finally getting their heads out of their asses and realizing they can actually do everyone a favor by opening up their vaults and releasing their titles that weren't exactly the most 'popular' on DVD (and at a decent price, as well). 'Nuff said.

So what we have here is your basic government agency recruiting the unknown, inexperienced agent to infiltrate an insidious organization to try and take it down. Except with Scanners, it's actually pharmaceutical companies at war, and the x-factor soon-to-be agent is one of a select few number of human beings who has freakish powers of ESP and Telekinesis. Yeah, well, believe it or not it's probably one of Cronenberg's most 'accessible' of films [besides the remake of 'The Fly' and 'The Dead Zone']. What makes this film so special? I guess mainly the theme of it. What would the "true" powers of the world do to get control of these unique human beings? It delves a bit into this, but ultimately, it's a pretty low-budget film shot out of Canada with a bit of intrigue, gore, and an ending that, well, at the time (1980), I imagine would have been pretty shocking. But now, well, it just seems kinda cheezy. The only recognizable actor from the film is Michael Ironside, who does an excellent job at playing the villain. The main character (Stephen Lack) is kinda going through the motions. Part of it can be attributed to the character he plays and the implied history of being a total social misfit as a Scanner, but, well...there's probably a reason we haven't seen him in many other films, if you get my drift. The movie itself is most known for the infamous 'head explosion' scene (definitely the money shot, done very well, might I add). But this is definitely a 'classic' in the realms of horror/sci-fi that has a pretty decent plotline and decent enough locations to make it almost believable. Overall, not for your average viewer. Not many of Cronenberg's films are, but he is one of the few directors to continually take on very odd (and often non-commercial) themes and to be able to capture it well on film.

Media Notes: The DVD is pretty basic, with the trailer added, so you're not missing much by renting it on VHS (though I imagine whatever stores actually carry it will have a pretty beat-up copy). The score is done by Howard Shore, who is kind of the equivalent to Danny Elfman in regards to Tim Burton. He's done music for almost all of Cronenberg's films, and has quite a collection of 'em, too (the most recent notable would be for Lord of the Rings). There have been a couple of sequels to the original Scanners, but I haven't had the inclination to see those.


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