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Scanners (1981)

September 25, 2009

6/10 Pig Livers and Shotguns

Not as awesome as I was I thought it would be, except for a couple minutes which are indeed totally awesome.

Scanners is about two guys with psychokinetic powers. One of them is a mean bastard that’s trying to use his powers to take over the world, the other one is a relatively good guy who takes it upon himself to stop this mean bastard and save the world.

You think you know, but you have no idea. This is the diary of a scanner.

So right off the bat, this is a pretty awesome premise that could really go either way. It’s one of David Cronenberg’s first movies, but David Cronenberg can either hit it out of the park or strike out swinging for a five-run homer. Unfortunately, Cronenberg pulls a swing and a miss here, but that’s okay, he’s got a lot of heart.

The other big area of potential here is the psychokinetic powers thing, and while the idea of a movie that revolves around people raising hell by using their minds like Jedis on a meth binge is nothing short of totally bitchin’, this is never a sure thing. Sometime it works, like in Akira, other times it doesn’t, like in Push (so I hear). Ultimately, I’m going to give Scanners the benefit of the doubt here, but it definitely walks that thin line between corny and cool like a boozehound taking a sobriety test.

The story’s original and its got some serious potential as I already mentioned, but there’s only two instances throughout the entire movie where scanning actually gets put to good use. It actually ends up being pretty boring as it just meanders along from one disappointing scanning scene to the next considering that the two best parts I mentioned are at the very beginning and at the very end; same problem that Master and Commander had, only without telepathy and shit. The dialogue is forgettable, so are most of the characters, and the lead actor, Stephen Lack, is nothing short of intolerable to watch.

Look, there are two reasons to see this movie. One is that the evil scanner, Darryl Revok (great name), is played by Michael Ironside, a guy who’s always been a badass but has never gotten the proper respect he deserves. Fun fact: he’s also the voice of Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell video games.

The other reason to see this movie is this scene.

Before you watch it, should give you fair warning that it’s very NSFW and it’s not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, it’ll also save you from having to watch the entire movie because it’s the only part actually worth seeing.  And if you really want to see how awesome Michael Ironside is, just go watch Total Recall instead.

So for those two reasons and because of my respect for Cronenberg as a director who’s made some pretty great movies in his time and has always done his own thing, Scanners gets a 6. Wouldn’t recommend sitting through the whole thing, but definitely check out that clip if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Just watch it. You know you want to watch it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. goregirl permalink
    September 25, 2009 2:10 pm

    There was a glut of horror films in the late 70’s and early 80’s about people with various “abilities”. I just watched an Australian film this week called ‘Patrick’ about a guy in a coma who is telekinetic. I am a huge Cronenberg fan, but a 6/10 is a pretty fair rating for this one. I have to agree, there is too much downtime. Exploding heads are pretty awesome, and I would have liked to have seen a lot more.

  2. Bill Thompson permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:31 am

    Pretty much agree, a good idea, but it remained a good idea and nothing more.

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