Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Film #5: Scanners (1981)

How great would it be to have mind control powers?
You could get the Chipotle burrito-artist to add an extra scoop of steak.
That fat-ass who stands on the down escalator; you could connect to their brain and send them skipping down those stairs.
And that “crazy” thing you’ve wanted to try with handcuffs, a rotted apple, and some KY? Your significant other couldn’t shoot you down this time, thanks to your awesome mind control powers!
To dream, to dream.
But for some, this dream is a waking nightmare. There are those who walk among us, like drifter Cameron Vale, who need only twitch their eyebrows in order to control human minds and bodies in the 1981 horror-thriller “Scanners.” But it ain’t all stuffed burritos and kinky sexy for old Vale.

Of the four billion people on earth in 1981, 237 are Scanners – freaks with the ability to connect their mind and nervous systems to both man and machine. During Scanning, Scanners can read people’s thoughts, control their actions, and, if the mood strikes, even cause their head to explode.

Unable to control the constant voices he hears, Vale had been eking out a living eating discarded hotdogs in malls and ogling old women with sexy legs. Thankfully, we have caring mega-corporations to take care of our street folk.
Canadian weapons and security corporation ConSec (Ohhh, Canada, scary!) forcefully takes in Vale, and gives him a drug that helps him control his Scanning. Then he gets the rundown. He is not the lone Scanner. In fact, there is a large network of the super-humans currently forming underground, with world domination on their revved up brains. ConSec originally tried to work with these Scanners, but after a little mishap with a blown-up scientist, the most powerful scanner in the group, Darryl Revok, revolted and started his own Scan-gang.
ConSec convinces Vale to turn double-agent, infiltrate Revok’s Scanner group, and kill him before he uses his powers to take over the world.

It is a battle of the wits in the 1981 chiller “Scanners.”

Scanners is written and directed by highly underrated director David Cronenberg, a genre master of such horror greats as “The Dead Zone” and “The Fly” remake. Body-horror is Cronenberg’s specialty. While some horror writers go for masked killers or atomic monsters as their villains, Cronenberg recognizes our biggest fear and hatred rests with our own mind and bodies. Disease and deformation strike horror in every man’s heart. We are a vain society, obsessed with looking and thinking perfect. Cronenberg continually exploits these feelings, bringing scares through images of body metamorphosis and hidden insanity. His horror is organic, personal, and terrifying.

What is scarier? An insane ax-wielding manic running toward a helpless heroine, or a mind-controlling psychopath using his powers to extract a man’s eyes from his sockets? You know, eye’s get the RDHP every time.

Scanners isn’t as deep as many of Cronenberg’s other films. There is some commentary about the out-of-control tactics of corporate drug manufacturers. Maybe even a few lessons about the mind's relation to the body.

But above all else, this is a popcorn flick exploring what would happen if a thoroughbred psycho had the power to control and destroy human minds.
Watch, but take note. This flick will blow your mind. Yes! Puns are fun!

RDHP Ratings:
C-Rating: 3.4
Chris Dimick speaks: "Scanners was good, but not great. First, the bad news. The acting was horrrrrrrible at parts, and I'm still not very convinced by that ending. But, there are some great reasons to watch Scanners as well. First, the story is incredible. Another masterpiece from director David Cronenberg, written as only he could. Second, while the acting is bad, the directing saves the movie, still managing to build tension and mood surrounding the unpredictable Scanners. And come on, who doesn't love to see a head explode via telepathy?!"

N-Rating: 3.2
Nick Rich speaks: "I too thought that Scanners was missing something... maybe it just had the great misfortune to follow "M". I enjoyed Scanners and taking a spin down its twisting, 70's-licious turns (i.e. the hair, clothes and make-up on both men and women) leading towards a freaky-deeky ending. But, I wasn't truly romanced by this film. Sure, there were moments that almost blew my mind (sorry I had too :P) and normally I enjoy slow burn films, and part of me did in this case. But more of me wanted the action in this movie to come out of the closet. Thinking back, there was quite a bit of action in this flick... but for some reason it didn't feel like there was a lot... maybe it was the Scanners desensitizing me to their nefarious plot!
The Skinny: watching Scanners gives you the same feeling as hanging out with a mustached man from the 70's - uncomfortable, yet strangely entranced so you remain to see what he will say next."

Clip of the Viewing: I've got a head-ache THIS BIG!

Things RDHP learned from Scanners:
- If you drill a hole in your head to let out “the voices,” cover the wound with a bandage that looks like an eye. It totally fools the voices from coming back in through the head hole.
- Everything is cleaner in Canada, even their homeless people!
- Toronto has an extraordinary amount of mind-controlling Scanners. Must be the combo of cold weather and maple syrup.
- Insane people can be cured via the magic of "art."
- If doubting how to kill a Scanner, always grab for the fully automatic assault shotgun (apparently everyone has one in Toronto).
- Local labor union laws state you need hire a certain percentage of the local "talent" for Canadian shot films. These people add "flavor" to films shot abroad (See the breakout performance of Vale, the main character in Scanners).
- There is no better place for a lounging area than a giant, decapitated head sculpture.
- If veins are rising up out of your face during a Scanner battle, follow Mom’s advice and don’t pick at them.

Things RDHP would do if they were Scanners:
- Get free Slurpees from the local 7-11 Apu.
- Go to the UN and make the assembly do a massive version of "Who's on first?"
- Make that douche-bag from IT walk around the office with his pants down.
- Make people randomly burst out in song and dance a la Disney.
- Force Coca-Cola executives to put their product back in large glass bottles.
- Get Congress to pass a national “Dick-Off Day” in honor of slacking off.
- Stop women from constantly looking at our luscious legs. Our eyes are up here ladies!

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