Ah, andrew. One of the glorious things about andrew is that not only do I get to chit chat about hockey (did you know I like other things outside of movies?!) with andrew, I get to chit chat about a variety of movies we both love.
One of these that popped up was Scanners.
I’m unapologetic about my crazy love for David Cronenberg. After watching The Brood at my house with a cynical, jaded friend who spent the entirety of the movie exclaiming, “What the HELL OH MY GOD OH MY GOD” every five minutes, I have wholly embraced the nutty goodness that is Cronenberg. Cronenberg movies are like puppies and rainbows and chocolate bars in film form for me. After every Cronenberg movie I watch, I kinda want to hug the man and give him some flowers or something. It shocks me how much attention Tim Burton generates for being, in essence, a “freaky auteur” when Cronenberg does it so much better, far more skillfully and relies less on the same aesthetic motifs throughout his films. So it’s no surprise I eagerly awaited my copy of Scanners arriving to me in the mail…and of course, then Netflix experienced “shipping delays”. Boo, Netflix!
Scanners is the story of Cameron Vale, who has become essentially a homeless freakshow who wanders the city with crazy bug eyes due to the fact that, well, he’s telepathic and telekinetic. These kinds of people are called “scanners” and Vale’s problem is that he cannot control his scanning, especially in large groups of people.
Revok, a fellow scanner, has started an underground society of scanners who want to take over the world, and he’s far enough over the “batshit insane” line to decide that if you don’t join his fun little Tupperware party of death and destruction, you’re going to meet a rather unpleasant end. Thus, Revok travels all over, basically getting his killing on everywhere he goes.
It’s really good not to be on this guy’s bad side, as this is what happens to you when you are (cut for extreme head-exploding goodness, for those of you who might be at work and don’t want your boss looking at a EXPLODED!HEAD! OF AWESOME!)
Vale is recruited by a shadowy corporation that convinces him to help them essentially save everyone from Revok and he dutifully sets about his task, and an awful lot of people die along the way.
If I have to be perfectly honest, Scanners is not a fantastic movie. I think it’s pretty good, but it’s not great, mainly because there’s a ton of close-ups of people having Bad Acting Moments, especially when they’re “scanned” to death. Cronenberg really nails you with the head explosion, mainly because it is really fun to watch, but after a while some of the scan-deaths wear.
That’s okay, because it totally pays off in the end. The showdown between Vale and Revok at the end is one of my favorite things ever, quite simply because it’s so inexplicably cool. Eye-popping and face-melting all around!
Revok is played by Michael Ironside who I irrationally really like. I own Total Recall for a variety of reasons but the main one is Michael Ironside. And he really, really, really plays a bad guy like very few others can. There’s something menacing but altogether strangely identifiable about him. He’s a bad, bad man in most of his movies, but there’s something odd and almost relatable about him. Scanners, in my opinion, isn’t sellable if isn’t for Ironside.
There’s something distinctly different about Scanners, something that I’ve never been able to put my finger on. The plot’s predictable and there’s definite weak points. But it’s so darn fun. I mean, twenty tons of fun!
Plus, head explosions. You simply cannot top that head explosion.
Genius, I say!