Scanners (1981)

Scanners was originally released in 1981 and I saw this for the first time on video in about 1986/87. The film was directed by horror meister David Cronenberg (The Fly, Existenz, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers). Scanners tells the story of a group of people (scanners) who develop various psychic powers after their mothers were given experimental drugs in the 1950's and 60's.

The main character is a homeless drifter tortured by his powers (without drugs the scanners are constantly bombared with other peoples random thoughts) he is taken in by the doctor who did the experiments with the mothers and given a drug "hypnocil" that controls their powers and blocks the "voices". Another scanner (Michael Ironside) trys to lure the main character into using his powers for evil. The film is probably most famous for a scene when the evil scanner makes a another scanners head explode like a gore splattered balloon!

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Do You Remember Scanners?

Do You Remember Scanners?

  • MissConduct
    Not a great film by any stretch, but it does highlight the development of Cronenberg's direction skills from his early gore pics "Rabid" and "Shivers". With "Scanners" he managed to hook up with some decent actors in McGoohan and Ironside, the latter of which has always been a favourite "bad guy" actor of mine. A nice if a somewhat convoluted and muddled plot, not helped by a rather dull performance by Lack, makes this film quite hard going; and is not a film you would want to sit through again any time soon!
  • Anonymous user
    I well remember it- drifter Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) turns out to be the brother of Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), and Dr.Paul Ruth who developed the experimental drug 'ephemerol' (Patrick McGoohan) turns out to be their father. Because Revok and Vale are his own children, he had given his wife much greater doses of experimental drugs when she was pregnant with his sons than he had given to anyone else, meaning that even by scanner standards, these two men have psycho-kinetic powers that are way beyond those of all the others (Hence Ironside's ability to incinerate people by thought, make them explode etc.- other scanners just wouldn't be able to do that). Whilst his homeless brother ekes out a miserable existence, Revok has become a succesful buisnessman and has founded a drugs company which has recommenced production of ephemerol- he intends to develop a whole new population of super-scanners by giving the drug to the present generation of pregnant women. Ruth assigns Vale with the daunting task of stopping his evil son from carrying out his terrible plan, with assistance from beautiful female scanner Kim Obrist (Jennifer O'Neill), who is limited by not having the same awesome powers as Vale and Revok have. I've seen it twice on TV, most memorable scene for me is the art gallery sequence, in which morbid sculptures are being exhibited done by half-mad scanner Benjamin Pierce (Robert A. Silverman).