David Cronenberg was a director known at the time of the release of this film as the master of Body horror, with films like Rabid and The Brood. Scanners was his first mainstream film and concerns a new breed of people known as scanners who have the ability to read and control minds but are unable to live normal lives due to the hundreds of voices crowding into their head.
Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) is the most powerful of all the scanners and is the head of the underground scanner movement planning for world domination. Another scanner CameronVale (Stephen Lack) is a man who does not understand his powers, and can’t control them. He leads a tormented existence as he constantly hears the thoughts of everyone around him. He is approached by a psychologist, Dr Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan), who attempts to help Cameron learn to use his powers in a way that will benefit mankind. Ruth informs Cameron that he is basically the only person who can stop Revok and with the help of an underground group the plan is set in place to stop him, but at what cost?
Scanners is a pretty mainstream horror film compared to what you might expect from the director. There are some shocking moments to be sure, especially the famous exploding head scene but overall this is a disappointingly pedestrian effort not helped by a very bland lead actor, Stephen Lack, who shows very little emotion through the whole film. To be fair to him he was not a trained actor and it shows. As the villain, Michael Ironside steals the show, showing great menace from a man losing his mind and wanting to use his powers for ultimate control. Patrick McGoohan is always a joy to watch but again is given little to do with the material available.
The special effects are superb and stand up even today, showing that real prosthetic effects are much more effective than any amount of CGI. The final battle between the two scanners is a gory delight, it was re-shot 3 months later as the original ending was not thought good enough. Definitely worth a re-watch and although it does get bogged down in the middle, the gory highlights are well worth the wait.
The Blu ray released by Second Sight is another winner. The 1080p transfer is a delight, clean and clear, a fantastic re-mastering job has been done for this title. The sound is given a good PCM 2.0 soundtrack as well as a boosted DTS MA 5.0 remix. It is clear precise and what you would expect of a film made in the early 80’s.
Extras are mainly talking heads but interesting views on the making of the film but sadly lacking the contribution of the director himself.
My Art Keeps Me Sane – Interview with Star Stephen Lack – Interesting interview with the lead actor, who is, in fact, an artist who tells of some interesting stories about why he was chosen and the filming process. He is a lot more animated here than in the whole of the film!
Other interviews are The Eye Of Scanners – Interview with Cinematographer Mark Irwin, The Chaos of Scanners – Interview with Executive Producer Pierre David, Exploding Brains & Popping Veins – Interview with Makeup Effects Artist Stephan Dupuis and Bad Guy Dane – Interview with Actor Lawrence Dane.
The release is a limited edition steelbook. When this run is finished it will be a normal Blu ray release.
FILM: 6 OUT OF 10
PICTURE: 8.5 OUT OF 10
SOUND: 7 OUT OF 10
EXTRAS: 7 OUT OF 10