Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Scanners - tappava ajatus / Scanners - dödande tanke. CA © 1980, premiere 1981. [A very long copyright information notice: Unit-holders...]. PC: Filmplan International, The Canadian Film Development Corporation. EX: Pierre David, Victor Solnicki. P: Claude Héroux. D+SC: David Cronenberg. DP: Mark Irwin - Panaflex Cameras and Lenses by Panavision - lab: Bellevue Pathé Québec Inc. - Eastmancolor - 1,85:1. AD: Carol Spier. Cost: Delphine White. SFX: Gary Zeller. Micro effects: Dennis Pike. Special makeup effects consultant (prosthetics for the exploding heads): Dick Smith. Special makeup: Stephan Dupuis, Tom Schwartz, Chris Walas. Makeup: Brigitte McCaughry. Hair: Constant Natale. Sculptors: Peter Borowski, Tom Coulter, Peter Dowker. M: Howard Shore. S: Peter Burgess. ED: Ronald Sanders. C: Jennifer O’Neill (Kim Obrist), Stephen Lack (Cameron Vale), Patrick McGoohan (Dr. Paul Ruth), Lawrence Dane (Braedon Keller), Michael Ironside (Darryl Revok), Adam Ludwig (Arno Crostic), Robert Silverman (Benjamin Pierce), Mavor Moore (Trevellyan). Loc: Montréal (Québec, Canada). Helsinki premiere: 7.8.1981 Savoy, released by Suomi-Filmi with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by T.M. Hagström - vhs: 1984 Mistar, Nordic Video, Finn Innovation - dvd: 2003 Future Film - telecasts: 6.5.2004 Subtv, 26.8.2008  MTV3 – VET 89284 – K18 - 2825 m / 103 min. A vintage KAVA print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (David Cronenberg), 15 May 2013

I had never seen Scanners before, although I'm familiar with most of David Cronenberg's films, and I found it fascinating in many ways.

First of all, it is the earliest cyberpunk movie I have seen. I had thought that cyberpunk cinema starts with Blade Runner (1982) and Videodrome (1983), but Scanners has already one of the most spectacular and definitive cyberpunk sequences of all times: the turning-point where Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) scans into the ConSec computer network via telephone and causes the entire computer center to explode. Also the telephone wires explode, and the receiver melts in Cameron's hand.

Another intriguing aspect is the morbid art gallery and the visit to Benjamin Pierce (Robert A. Silverman), a morbid sculptor, constantly rehabilitating himself through art. "You are one of me?" "It's the voices driving me crazy." "My art keeps me sane." The melancholy sequence is the most profound in the movie, which is to a large degree an action movie with gunfights, car chases and explosions.

Scanners is known as a futuristic thriller and a science fiction movie slightly untypical for Cronenberg for example because there is no sex in it. It is also a good horror movie. In the conclusion, before their final  showdown, it turns out that the two main scanners, Cameron Vale and Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) are, in fact, brothers. Their mother had taken in 1946 before their birth a medicine called Ephemerol which had the side-effect of giving the sons a devastating, even lethal and destructive, power of telepathy ("scanning") and telekinesis. In the gruesome finale Kim Obrist (Jennifer O'Neill) discovers the burned remains of one of them... and a new creature, an amalgam of them both.

I like Cronenberg's approach to horror here: the direct, straight approach to action, with an impulse to burst into laughter just beneath, never obviously, yet with a profound sadness about the basic theme of manipulation of all kinds: medical, genetical, and computer-driven.

The film is well-made but not slick, and a certain raw, unpolished, even cheesy quality does not harm it or is perhaps a part of its charm.

The heavily used print has retained its colour (for instance the autumn colours towards the ending look wonderful), and although there is at times a slightly soft and duped feeling mostly it's good enough and at times even very good. Not bad.

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