The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact.
After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally kills his wife, and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.
A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
Darryl Revok is the most powerful of all the scanners, and is the head of the underground scanner movement for world domination. Scanners have great psychic power, strong enough to control minds; they can inflict enormous pain/damage on their victims. Doctor Paul Ruth finds a scanner that Revok hasn't, and converts him to their cause - to destroy the underground movement.Written by
Paul Reynolds <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As the credits end, the words "Max Security Self Destruct Seconds 1" flash on the screen, then the screen flashes green, as if someone shut the monitor off. See more »
Additional change to censored version: in the final battle between Vale and Revok, they substitute a weaker ending which freeze-frames Vale, shows some phony-looking blue streaking animation of a "mind transfer" from Vale to Revok, and then fades the screen, replacing the spectacular, but gory battle almost entirely. See more »
"We're gonna do this the Scanner way...I'm gonna suck your brain dry!"
Cameron Vale (played by artist Stephen Lack) is a derelict who, after a bizarre incident in a shopping mall, is rounded up by two goons who bring him to eminent doctor Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan). Paul reveals to Cameron the reality of his situation: Cameron is in fact a "Scanner", or a person with extraordinary telepathic abilities. Scanners can not only look into the minds of others, and manipulate them, but can also do very unpleasant things to human bodies. Paul recruits Cameron to help him track down Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside, in his breakthrough role), a rogue Scanner with plans for world domination.
The late, great Dick Smith was the special consultant to the makeup effects crew (Stephan Dupuis, Chris Walas, Tom Schwartz), and it's these effects that take center stage in this interesting and bleak thriller from Canadian legend David Cronenberg. The exploding head that everybody remembers so vividly actually occurs only about 13 and a half minutes into the show, so viewers don't have long to wait. Of course, as has been pointed out, how does one top something like that? Well, Cronenberg waits until the end to come up with a pretty good showdown between good Scanner and bad Scanner.
The pace is admittedly deliberate, but the ideas unfortunately don't feel completely fleshed out. Quite a bit of exposition is packed into the last act. The filming of this classic wasn't particularly enjoyable for Cronenberg as he *did* have to begin filming before his script was even finished, so he *was* unfortunately rushed. Still, his story is a damn entertaining and intense one.
Howard Shores' music score is wonderfully over the top and scary, and sets and locations do have a very sparse look. The acting is variable; McGoohan looks bored, as if he doesn't really want to be there, and Jennifer O'Neill, while beautiful, doesn't really add anything to the film. Lack gets a lot of flak for his performance, which I'll agree isn't a particularly dynamic one, but it does suit the character, a man who was a lonely fringe dweller for a long time until being awakened into a larger reality. (Cronenberg does make an effective parallel here to the way that real life people with mental issues get treated.) Former Cronenberg repertory player Robert A. Silverman is fun in another of his offbeat parts, and Lawrence Dane is excellent as security chief Braedon Keller, but it's Ironside who completely steals the show as the nasty villain.
While not without flaws, "Scanners" remains one of its directors' most memorable efforts to date.
Seven out of 10.
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