January 14th, 1981



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Still of Stephen Lack in ScannersStill of Patrick McGoohan in ScannersStill of Jennifer O'Neill in Scanners

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

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 6.7/10 (16,789 voted)

Critic's Score: 60/100

Director: David Cronenberg

Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan

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.

Jennifer O'Neill - Kim Obrist
Stephen Lack - Cameron Vale
Patrick McGoohan - Dr. Paul Ruth
Lawrence Dane - Braedon Keller
Michael Ironside - Darryl Revok
Robert A. Silverman - Benjamin Pierce (as Robert Silverman)
Lee Broker - Security One
Mavor Moore - Trevellyan
Adam Ludwig - Arno Crostic
Murray Cruchley - Programmer 1 (as Lee Murray)
Fred Doederlein - Dieter Tautz
Géza Kovács - Killer in Record Store (as Geza Kovacs)
Sonny Forbes - Killer in Attic (as Sony Forbes)
Jérôme Tiberghien - Killer in Attic (as Jerome Tiberghien)
Denis Lacroix - Killer in Barn

Taglines: Their thoughts can kill!

Release Date: 14 January 1981

Filming Locations: Montréal, Québec, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $CAD4,100,000 (estimated)

Gross: $14,225,876 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

A very early treatment from 1976, entitled "Telepathy 2000" takes place in the future, begins with the protagonist (who is named Harley Quinn) telepathically raping a woman in a subway, and was set as a spy movie. In this version, a company called Cytodyne Amalgamate was breeding evil Scanners to take over the world and the U.S. Government was employing good Scanners to stop them.

Continuity: After the famous "exploding head" scene, there wasn't a drop of blood on Revok or the table.

Cameron Vale: Then what did you need Keller for?
Darryl Revok: ConSec had hardware. It had contacts. Keller could see the future.
Cameron Vale: The future? You murdered the future.
Darryl Revok: That's negative, Cam. Defeatist. Disappoints me to hear you talk that way. You're starting to sound like them.
Darryl Revok: [continues talking while walking through the room. Cameron takes a stone paperweight in his hands from Revok's desk and observes it] There's a whole generation of scanners soldiers just a few months away from being born. We'll find them. Train them to be like us. Not like Obrist and their band of cripples. We'll bring the world of normals to their knees. We'll build an empire so brilliant, so glorious. We'll be the envy of the whole planet.
Cameron Vale: You sound just like him. Like Ruth.
Darryl Revok: No, not like him.
[furiously yelling]
Darryl Revok: Like Revok, Darryl Revok!
Cameron Vale: No. Like him. It's as though he's been reincarnated in you.

User Review

Probably one of the best sci-fi social commentaries of our time.

Rating: 9/10

Well, were to begin?

First off, when I first saw Scanners, it really didn't do that much for me. Nowadays, I've learnt to view the film through more enlightened eyes, and appreciate it for the masterpiece that is most rightfully is.

Apart from the much-lauded 'exploding head' scene (which could have used a little more blood spattering everywhere) one of the film's most chilling scenes is at the very beginning when the lead character, Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) causes a woman to have a fit in a shopping mall before being captured by a pair of heavies. The scene was so convincingly played out that it really shock me up.

The more interesting aspect is the fact that most of these 'scanners'(or telepathic curiosities as the CEO of Consec calls them) are usually forced to live on the fringes of society as their telekinetic powers are feared and misunderstood by many. It would seem that the director, David Cronenberg, was using this plot device as a metaphor to comment on society's prejudicial attitudes towards the mentally ill. Like many of his low-budget horror films right up to 'The Fly' (1986) 'Scanners' has a very subversive, fly-on-the-wall take on society's ills. The modern society portrayed in 'Scanners' is a world viewed through the eyes of the outcast.

Throughout the film, there is a general feeling of starkness, from the synthesiser-tinged score by Howard Shore, to the general sparse look of the film. This gives the viewer a rather apt feeling of coldness and isolation.

Michael Ironside steals the show as the unhinged renegade scanner, Darryl Revok, who has a vast army of scanner converts at his disposal ready and willing to annihilate anyone unfortunate enough to stand in their way.

The only down side, however is the casting of Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale. Although he makes a fairly decent effort of playing his part, Lack just doesn't seem to have that much-needed 'spark' to bring his character to life.

All in all, 'Scanners' comes highly recommended as a 'must-see' feature.


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