6.8/10
47,359
202 user 135 critic

Scanners (1981)

Trailer
2:12 | Trailer
A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director:

David Cronenberg
Reviews
Popularity
1,318 ( 836)
3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Edit

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:

10 Seconds: The Pain Begins. 15 Seconds: You Can't Breathe. 20 Seconds: You Explode. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Dr. Ruth tells Vale that he founded Biocarbon Amalgamate in 1942. Patrick McGoohan, who plays the Dr. Paul Ruth character, was 14 years old in 1942. See more »

Goofs

Before the scene where Cameron is officially introduced to Kim at the apartment where all the good Scanners meet up, there is a zoom in on Darryl (Ironside) who is waiting outside. You can see Michael Ironside is standing on what is the end of the dolly tracks which is used to smoothly truck the camera in for the zoom camera move on his face. See more »

Quotes

Benjamin Pierce: My art... keeps me sane.
[gestures at plaster head]
Benjamin Pierce: Art.
[taps his temples]
Benjamin Pierce: Sane.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Credits scroll like words on the CONSEC computer monitor. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the scene when Cameron Vale is in Revok's factory, he checks the computer. When we see the monitor, there's a green frame in this version and there's also a green frame at the closing credits. This version appeared on the VHS distributed by MOKÉP. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: City of the Living Dead (2017) 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.


6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 202 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scanners See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

CAD4,100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,225,876

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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 »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed