Scanners

Year: 1981
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: David Cronenberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve owned this movie since college and it’s only now I realize I’ve never seen it all the way through. I saw it for the first time in a college film class when we screened the famous head exploding scene. I was so impressed with the scene I sought out this movie to add to the collection. It seems now I never actually got around to seeing the whole thing.

This is not an easy movie to watch, and barring some interesting parts it really falls short overall. It’s not by any fault of Director David Cronenberg who had his back against the wall. Pressured by deadlines Cronenberg had to start shooting without a finished script and had to manage two feuding stars. For whatever the reason Patrick McGoohan and Jennifer O’Neil did not get along. I can’t recall the two of them sharing any scenes but I’m sure the problem was prevalent on set during shooting.

The hero in this film, Vale played by Steven Lack, is lacking in acting skills. As the hero of the film he simply doesn’t deliver and the part could have been better cast. On the other hand Michael Ironside in the part of Revok is awesome. I have always been a big fan of Michael Ironside, especially as a villain. He’s been acting for almost 40 years and this is the youngest I have seen him in anything. Even in his youth he had a sinister edge that makes him great for playing bad guys.

This movie is all over the place, and that’s part of what makes it hard to watch. The Scanners at times can’t deal with the thoughts of all those around them, at other times they are fully in control. The sudden expansion of their capabilities from human mind control to computer control was an odd change that didn’t work for me. I also thought the weird voice over in Dr. Ruth’s final moments to be a bit odd and confusing. Is he a scanner or are these simply crazy thoughts of a mad man? He suddenly turning out to be the father of both Vale and Revok is a twist I think was produced out of writing the script while shooting. It’s a weak plot twist and all too typical.

This movie is listed as a horror film but more for the shocks and content than any scary element. This one isn’t going to scare you at all or get you in the mood for the season but it’s not without some excitement. There have been talks of a remake for years but it has never materialized. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen though, Hollywood loves refurbishing old horror movies with a more modern twist. This movie probably could be improved with a remake though. The idea is sound and interesting enough albeit a bit of a bore to watch and too anticlimactic.

I don’t recommend this movie as a Halloween season film and I would avoid it if you are looking for a horror feature to watch this season. Despite its few merits it simply isn’t a scary movie and will do nothing to set the tone you are looking for. There are other horror films from David Cronenberg that are undoubtedly better and eventually we may check them out and review something he will be better remembered for. For the most this movie is remembered for check out the video below for the entire scene and you’ve seen all you need to see.

 

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