Directed & Written by David Cronenberg
Produced by Pierre David & Claude Heroux
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography by Mark Irwin
FX by Dick Smith
Cast: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Michael Ironside & Patrick McGoohan

1981/103 mins/Color/Mono
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/Canada/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Warner Bros. DVD

"10 Seconds: The Pain Begins. 15 Seconds: You Can't Breathe. 20 Seconds: You Explode."

Cameron Vale (Lack) is captured by Dr. Paul Ruth's corporation, which attempts to use people with telepathic and telekinetic abilities for its own purposes. At the same moment at a press conference, a scanner is brutally killed by the renegade and wanted scanner Darryl Revok (the evilish Ironside).

It soon becomes clear to Vale that the doctor's plan is to use him to destroy Revok. But what he discovers is even worse. A drug called Ephemerol is used by pregnant women to affect their newborn and create scanners.

SCANNERS was David Cronenberg's first big commercial hit gaining over $14 million at the box office and leading him to sign with Universal for his next feature, which would be VIDEODROME. The film touches many of the elements familiar within Cronenberg's work (body and mind). Many have said that Cronenberg twisted ideas are somewhat remiscent of reality and it is true with SCANNERS too. The use, marketing, and birth defects caused by the fictional drug Ephemerol parallel the real-life drug thalidomide. Thalidomide was chiefly sold and prescribed during the late 1950s and early 1960s to pregnant women as a sedative, and its use led to severe malformations of children when taken during pregnancy. In fact, I do know someone who has a leg malformation because of Thalidomide.

The film is probably better known for the extremely juicy and gory head explosion at the beginning but for me the highlight is the duel between Vale and Revok at the end showcasing Dick Smith magnificent make-up FX where veins swell, skin pop and Vale turning into fire. Although Revok is able to destroy Vale's body, Vale instead attacks Revok's mind, switching their consciousnesses at the moment Vale's body perishes. Revok dies inside of Vale's body, with a triumphant Vale announcing to Obrist (O'Neill) from inside of Revok's body, "We've won."

One of the few problems with SCANNERS is the casting of Stephen Lack who's simply terrible and lifeless as the lead actor. Michael Ironside brings so much intensity to his character that a strong rival would have been welcomed. The film also stars the beautiful Jennifer O'Neill, which was in Lucio Fulci's THE PSYCHIC a few years earlier.

The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and it is anamorphic. It’s an ok transfer with correct color saturation, some scratches and dust but nothing alarming. The original English mono track sounds good but not spectacular. A dubbed French track is also available along with English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Unfortunately the only extra on the disc is the theatrical trailer. Seriously Warner Bros. should have made this a special edition loaded with extras. The film is separated in 16 chapters, features static menus without sounds or music and comes in a keep case.

"There are 4 billion people on earth. 237 are Scanners. They have the most terrifying powers ever created... and they are winning."





This Film Features:

Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2009. ©