Monday, October 04, 2010

“All right. We're gonna do this the scanner way. I'm gonna suck your brain dry!”

David Cronenberg has a reputation for being a mad Canadian filmmaker who makes weird stuff. Stuff like the remake of The Fly or today’s entry, Scanners from 1981. This one’s all about a tiny segment of the world population with the ability to read and affect minds. And, yes, its weird.

So we’re in Canada in a near-future 1980s and a vagrant named Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) has an outburst of psychic energy and is taken into custody. A government scientist, Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) informs him that he’s a “scanner;” someone who can mentally merge nervous systems with other people in order to read their minds, make them do stuff or overload them.

Overloading is something a rogue scanner named Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside, with hair!) can do. He’s a scanner supremacist who has an underground army of scanners that hate normals. Revok is our Villain and has that famous scene where he pops the head of a government sanctioned scanner.

Cameron undergoes some training and is sent out to hunt Revok and things go badly for a while. However, Cameron does meet up with another scanner, Kim Oberst (Jennifer O’Neill) who also has a habit of surviving Revok’s attacks.

Directed by David Cronenberg and Mark Irwin as director of photography, the film has a very 80s feel to the look. Effects are sparse but pretty well done, especially the famous head popping scene and some of the later scanner fights. Pacing is a little hit and miss with a lot of scenes where not much happens, but its nothing too detrimental. The whole movie has an air of uncertainty and weirdness that works in its favor.

David Gronenberg wrote the script, and its full of a lot interesting ideas. The whole concept and nature of the scanners themselves is really interesting, what with their odd origins and the fact that its really not a comfortable thing being a scanner. The script does stretch the willing suspension of disbelief when they talk about scanning a computer, but that’s really only for one scene and leads up to a cool explosion, so I’m willing to let that slide.

Howard "Lord Of The Rings" Shore on score duty, the soundtrack is full of 80s science fiction-y sounds and odd touches that add to the unsettled vibe of the movie.

Scanners is a really cool movie with a lot of creepy, gory and darkly comedic touches that keep things interesting and the ending was pretty impressive. Recommended.

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