Written by: David Cronenberg
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Michael Ironside, Patrick McGoohan
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
Darryl Revok, a man with psychic abilities, hunts others like himself.
The concept is great which is why this movie is a cult classic, but Lack's acting leaves a lot to be desired. It's a low budget thriller and it shows, but it's influenced a lot of science fiction and boasts impressive practical effects.
Cronenburg had a string of body horror films in the '80s that include The Brood, Scanner, Videodrome, and The Fly. He pioneered the genre of scientists experimented on people or themselves
In Scanners, a pharmaceutical company has unintentionally created people with the power of telepathy and telekinesis. This touches upon pharmaceutical company's intentions with drug testing and how drug results can wildly vary from expected results. The master plan is understated but sinister, wanting to inoculate children to form a super army.
In the first few scenes we see these powers used as a weapon when Revok (Michael Ironside) uses his powers to make another man's head explode.
Revok wants to create an army while the military wants to capture and control the powers of the ultimate soldier.
While this is a low budget horror film, the practical effects are impressive, from exploding heads to bulging veins. Today these effects would be CGI and not look nearly as good.
Revok is the villain, wanting to create an army of psychics like himself. Ironside is downright sinister, with the scar between his eyes an especially nice touch. Stephen Lack, the hero tasked with stopping him, Cameron, leaves much to be desired. Even accounting for his socially awkward character Lack's performance is noticeably forced.
It's a twisting story, but the action is once removed. The originator of any result is mental telepathy, so we see just the effect and not the cause. This causes the 'battles' to become hokey as we see facial veins bulging and distorted visages without the characters physically doing much.
It's very much an '80s film from the exploding head mentioned earlier to the ending, but that doesn't make it bad. It's got a solid premise.