Review: Scanners (1981)

Whilst Scanners might not be Cronenberg’s deepest film, its madcap plot and exploding head make it one of his most entertaining works.

So David Cronenberg’s  cult classic Scanners finally makes it to Blu-ray, but has it been it worth the wait? As one might expect from early Cronenberg, the story is pretty out there. In attempt to simplify it, it goes something like this. A group of humans have evolved and developed telekinetic powers, Daryl Revok (Michael Ironside) is setting up an underground society and killing all those who refuse to join him. Not best pleased with this news Scanner specialist Dr Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) dispatches his own psychic to stop Revok’s plan.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, some of the acting isn’t great, it’s very overblown and perhaps in places a little too campy even for this material. The main culprit here is unfortunately the leading man, Stephen Lack looks lost and confused for most of the film. Thankfully the legendary Michael Ironside is on hand and once again delivers a fantastic bad guy in Daryl Revok which evens things out a little.

In terms of the story itself Scanners fares a little better, whilst it won’t be to everyone’s taste, the plot is well paced and has enough twists and turns to keep it engaging throughout. More importantly the film is great fun and highly entertaining. It’s this sense of fun that carries the film through some effects shots that have aged badly and some clunky dialogue here and there. However it’s a pleasure to say the infamous exploding head scene still look fantastic.

Whilst not up there with likes of body shock classic Videodrome, Scanners is very much still worthy of its cult classic status and well worth seeking out for any genre fans. It’s a fun ride and you’d be foolish to miss it.

And what of the Blu-ray itself? Well the HD transfer on display here is excellent. Just the right amount of film grain is present and there is little sign of over use of Digital Noise Reduction (DNR). This coupled with fact it’s released in a great looking Steelbook makes Scanners an essential purchase for any discerning Cronenberg fan!

Discussion feed

Up next in movies