In a continuation of the body horror theme, David Cronenberg brings his next horror vision with Scanners. Once again he switches course with this film. ’Scanners’ are a group of people with dangerously powerful psychic abilities, and a group of them are moving with the end goal of world domination. This group, led by the most powerful scanner currently known, Darryl Revok (played by Michael Ironside), can only be stopped by another scanner. Doctor Paul Ruth is looking into a way to stop the scanners when he discovers an unknown one, Cameron Vale, and recruits him for the cause. When Vale begins to infiltrate the group, he meets and teams up with another scanner, Kim Obrist.
Jennifer O’Neill (The Psychic) and Stephen Lack (Dead Ringers) lead a powerful cast in this psychic horror. Michael Ironside (Visiting Hours, Watchers) really stands out as the leader of the group of scanners. One of the amusing elements of any psychic horror film is how the psychic powers are demonstrated on-screen. After all, the plot comes with an innate (possibly problematic) question: how do you display something that you can’t see? Rather than makeup and monsters, we have facial expressions and convulsions. What Cronenberg does so well with this plot is to allow the psychic powers to very directly affect a persons physical condition. These effects and gory resolutions really give this film its brilliance. And as always Cronenberg employs spectacular visual effects and camera work. Among these is the very famous (or infamous) head explosion.
All in all this is easily one of my favorite of Cronenberg’s films. As I’ve already stated, Michael Ironside is spectacular, and Stephen Lack holds his own as well. The story is great, and the visual effects are some of the best portrayals of psychic powers I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend this film to any horror fan, so find it and watch it before your head explodes with excitement.