6.8/10
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184 user 124 critic

Scanners (1981)

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director:

David Cronenberg
Reviews
Popularity
4,281 ( 348)

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3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer O'Neill ... Kim Obrist
Stephen Lack ... Cameron Vale (as Steven Lack)
Patrick McGoohan ... Dr. Paul Ruth
Lawrence Dane ... Braedon Keller
Michael Ironside ... Darryl Revok
Robert A. Silverman ... Benjamin Pierce (as Robert Silverman)
Lee Broker Lee Broker ... Security One
Mavor Moore Mavor Moore ... Trevellyan
Adam Ludwig Adam Ludwig ... Arno Crostic
Murray Cruchley Murray Cruchley ... Programmer 1 (as Lee Murray)
Fred Doederlein Fred Doederlein ... Dieter Tautz
Géza Kovács Géza Kovács ... Killer in Record Store (as Geza Kovacs)
Sonny Forbes Sonny Forbes ... Killer in Attic (as Sony Forbes)
Jérôme Tiberghien Jérôme Tiberghien ... Killer in Attic (as Jerome Tiberghien)
Denis Lacroix Denis Lacroix ... Killer in Barn
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Storyline

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 <pauljr@innotts.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Their thoughts can kill! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scanners See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD 4,100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,225,876
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kim Obrist was named after producer Claude Héroux's assistant. See more »

Goofs

At 50:44, two gunmen flip someone over a balcony and he somehow ends up falling down the stairs. See more »

Quotes

Cameron Vale: Benjamin Pierce?
Benjamin Pierce: Why don't you leave me alone?
Cameron Vale: I need some help. You're the only one that can give it to me.
Benjamin Pierce: Is that right? Me?
Cameron Vale: Yes.
Benjamin Pierce: [Benjamin bursts out in laughter] Then I think you're in big trouble, chump.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
"We're gonna do this the Scanner way...I'm gonna suck your brain dry!"
23 August 2014 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

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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