Movie of the Day – Scanners
October 20, 2012 2 Comments
There is one thing that everybody will remember about Scanners, even if they have seen the movie or not. It’s shown in the trailer and that is the head exploding scene. When I first saw this movie and that scene came up, I was fucking floored. Never have I seen something that graphic and unflinching unfold on screen. I was hooked, not because of the overt violence and gore, but because I wanted to see where this psychotic ride will take me.
The title of this David Cronenberg sci-fi horror film refers to a group of people who have telekinetic powers that allow them to read minds and give them the ability to make other people’s heads explode. The children of a group of women who took an experimental tranquilizer during their pregnancies, the scanners are now adults and have become outcasts from society. But Darryl (Michael Ironside) decides to create an army of scanners to take over the world. The only person who can stop him is his brother Cameron (Stephen Lack), who wants to forget that he was ever a scanner. Winner of the International Fantasy Film Award at the 1983 Fantasporto Film Festival, Scanners was followed by a pair of sequels, neither of which involved Cronenberg. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
David Cronenberg, only you could make a movie like this. A mix of science fiction, action and horror, Scanners blends all those genres into a swirling maelstrom of telekinetic fury. Alright, maybe not so much the action fest that you would expect from that description, but the moments of action are dark and intense. Scanners is both a good and bad movie, with the good coming from the setting and dark moments of Scanners using their powers on people and the bad is just kind of everything else in the movie.
The good aspects are the effects that Cronenberg showcases on screen in all the visual glory. The Scanners use of their powers had to be amped up a bit in terms of their effects, cause really you are just watching people make funny faces as they scan the peoples brain. The end results of their power use has to be enough to get you to overlook the funny nature of a person whipping their head back and forth while touching their temples to show that they are using the Scanner powers. The end results are fantastic if you are interested in seeing people being thrown around, set on fire, exploded from within and other badassery that Ironside inflicts on the weak willed. The final climatic battle of minds is truly the pinnacle of the film, while the early head exploding visual stays in the zeitgeist of horror fans.
The bad aspects is pretty much everything else. The acting is OK, but nothing truly memorable comes from it. The setting is this drab, institutional look with some grit and grim thrown in a few different location, but it kind of plays out like a retro action film. Cronenberg is limited by budget obviously, but the characters in the film are just about as forgettable as the story itself. I couldn’t really care a lot about Cameron and the other Scanners, but damn I wanted a lot more about Michael Ironsides character as he goes around exploding people. That would have been way better.
Overall, Scanners manages to break the stodgy acting and uninspired characters with moments of visceral violence and horror. I wish the aspect of the ConSec and the birth of Scanners from medicine use was explored more. There was a lot of story to mine from that but, I think the visual display and the action detracted from the potential of the movie, but I will take a visual ride with Cronenberg. That is what makes this movie stand out to me the most, the incredible visuals and effects when the scanners use their powers. It certainly shocks you out of the lull while giving you a spectacle that only Cronenberg can give.