Culture Magazine

Scanners (1981)

By Newguy

logoDirector: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane,  Michael Ironside, Robert A Silverman, Lee Broker


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


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Cult Classic That’s all you can say


Story: Scanners starts with Cameron Vale (Lack) a bum that hangs around a shopping mall but he has a power that makes him a Scanner. Cameron gets kidnapped by Doctor Ruth (McGoohan) and exposed to the idea of what his powers can achieve. We move to a science conference of sorts where the host asks for volunteers leading to Darryl Revok (Ironside) producing one of the most iconic scenes in horror film history. When the group of scientists try to kidnap Darryl he uses his powers to escape as he has mastered what he has been given.

Con Sec a weaponry company want to use the Scanners as weapons but after the incident with Darryl they bring a new security operative Braedon Keller (Dane). We learn that Dr. Ruth knows about a Scanner underground but he believes Cameron isn’t known to them and wants to use him as a weapon against the other Scanner problems. Cameron finds out he might have gotten himself into something bigger than he thought when he meets Kim (O’Neill) who seems to be building her own defence against Revok.

Scanners is a film I knew the basics of for years but never actually got around to watching, I knew about the head explosion and kind of thought that was the end of the film but was surprised to see it at the beginning of the film. The story is very easy to follow and does what many films do where we have a lead character that is sent to fight for one side only to discover he might be on the wrong side but really doesn’t know who is write and who is wrong. The film tries to throw out a few twists but never really manages to surprise us because it gives away the most shocking effects moment early on in the film leaving me disappointed with the lack of effects until the final fight. This is one for all the fans of the horror genre but really the story is good and interesting but never challenging. (7/10)


Actor Review


Jennifer O’Neill: Kim Obrist a fellow Scanner who is trying to stop Revok in her own way but also trying to avoid Ruth, she joins up Cameron to stop Revok only to find herself being hunted down by both sides. Jennifer does a solid job in a supporting role but never gets to really shine. (6/10)


Stephen Lack: Cameron Vale the newly discovered Scanner who works with the company to try and take down Revok, each time he uses his powers he learns more about just what he can achieve with his powers. Stephen does look kind of out of place as the lead in this film, but when he looks clueless he character is meant to be too. (4/10)


Patrick McGoohan: Dr. Paul Ruth the scientist working with the company to try and use Scanners as weapons but has to find a way to stop the underground Scanner movement. Patrick does a solid job in the supporting role playing a very generic doctor character. (5/10)


Michael Ironside: Darryl Revok the deadliest of all the Scanners he has learnt how to control the power and isn’t afraid to use it when the time comes to. Michael does a good job in the role as the villain which is the stand out performance of the film. (8/10)


Support Cast: Scanners has a supporting cast that includes the fellow Scanners, doctors and researchers trying to figure out the situation. They nearly all make out to be disposable characters.


Director Review: David Cronenberg – David does what you would expect from him and weird sci-fi horror film that will push the boundaries. (8/10)


Horror: Scanners works well for the horror genre with plenty of blood with the exploding heads. (7/10)

Sci-Fi: Scanners puts us into a world where mind control could be real which makes for a good and frightening storyline. (8/10)

Settings: Scanners uses the type of settings you would expect to see in this genre of film. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Scanners uses brilliant practical effects with the head explosions but really doesn’t shine in the gun battles. (7/10)

Suggestion: Scanners is one for the horror fans to enjoy but not many other people. (Horror Fans Watch)


Best Part: Head Explosion.

Worst Part: The acting isn’t the best.

Kill Of The Film: Head Explosion.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has 2 sequels and 2 spin offs.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $14 Million

Budget: Can $4.1 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

Tagline: Their thoughts can kill!


Overall: This really is one that is a cult classic that on the real fans will enjoy, it has one of the most iconic scenes in film history but really doesn’t shine without that.



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