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Scanners (1981)

Jennifer O'Neill , Stephen Lack , David Cronenberg  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: David Cronenberg
  • Producers: Claude Héroux, Pierre David, Victor Solnicki
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2001
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005K3NY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,637 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Scanners" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Welcome to the world of the Scannersa race of humans with telekinetic powers that can wreak havoc beyond your most dreaded nightmare. Writer/director David Cronenberg (The Fly, Naked Lunch) brings the terror closer than ever beforehe brings it right into your mind. Cronenberg is a modern-day horror master whose name fits in easily with the likes of King, Craven and Carpenter...and Scanners, with its spectacular and shockingly realistic special effects, is a startling masterpiece of the genre. When a rogue Scanner of unparalleled power (Michael Ironside) wages a bloody war against the normals, young empath Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is recruited to trackhim down. But Vale is inexperiencedand a battle with another Scanner could mean a grisly death...or worse. Can Vale vanquish his insanely violent, power-mad adversary? Only one thing is certain: Scanners delivers the chills-down-your-spine, heart-in-your-throat, you-can't-watch-but-you-daren't-leave goods (Time)!

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cronenberg Classic October 25, 2003
Every once in awhile I like to dip my toe into a David Cronenberg film. I have seen quite a few of them at this point, from some of his earliest stuff like "Rabid" to his seminal reworking of "The Fly" starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. One thing you will always get out of a Cronenberg film is a serious look at how technology and human beings interact. Like science fiction author J.G. Ballard, Cronenberg's viewpoint towards a synthesis of man and machine is always exceedingly grim, not to mention gory as all get out. The overarching theme in his cinematic examinations seems to be that humans simply do not know enough about the technology they develop, or if they do, their arrogance in the ultimate abilities of mankind never prevents them from charging into potentially damaging experiments. That we are just not far seeing enough to predict the outcome of using new drugs or messing around with human genetics may be a good message to take from a Cronenberg film. "Scanners" should fall into a "Cronenberg 101" class about these messages. Released in 1981, this film helped bring Cronenberg into the mainstream, as well as spawning a host of cheap sequels and a possible remake due sometime next year. Of course, this movie also provides the rabid horror fan with what is possibly the sickest gore scene in cinematic history.
"Scanners" tells the story of Cameron Vale, a man who has spent most of his life in a perpetual fog. Roaming through the streets of the city as a homeless person, Vale suffers from a plethora of voices constantly yammering away in his head. He cannot hold a job or have a regular life with this problem, so he copes the best way he can by always staying on the run.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Scanners marks the emergence of David Cronenberg from low-budget horror auteur to one of the most unique voices in filmmaking of the last thirty or so years. He first came onto the scene directing such low-budget horror films such as Shivers, Rabid and The Brood. These three films were later said to have had that Cronenberg propensity to show the horror of the body-politic at its most basic. Cronenberg pretty much points out of how true horror might not be lurking on the outside, but within the the human body. Cronenberg makes the human body as forever changing and mutating against the individual person's wants and desire of what was suppose to be the ideal. The horror that we as a people do not and will never have control over our own body was where the true horror lie.

In 1981, Cronenberg moves from the purely physical horror to one where the technology man was forever trying to create and achieve perfection would turn on the biological aspect of the human condition. This new form of techno-organic mutation was as terrifying as it was seductive in its potential to those afflicted with it. Cronenberg begins this phase in his filmmaking voice with his excellent, underappreciated and cult-classic Scanners.

The premise for Scanners had alot in common with Stephen King's novel Firestarter in the fact that in dealt with an omnipresent and powerful organization: the CIA's shadowy branch that dealt with experimental weapons programs for Firestarter and the ultra-powerful CONSEC multinational corporation in Scanners. These two organizations experiment on random select individuals using experimental drug treatments under the guise of helpful medications. What results from these experiments are more than what was truly expected by their handlers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT movie, BAD DVD September 5, 2001
This is one of Cronenburg's best efforts--imaginative and very entertaining. Unfortunately, the DVD edition is not-so-hot (the stars reflect the DVD quality, not the film itself). The last forth of the movie has a terrible soundtrack matching, such that the last 20 minutes is like watching a dubbed Kung-Fu movie. I suppose I am surprised, since matching the soundtrack and visual seems like a BASIC necessity, but this sloppy redering is a mis-match. Let us hope one day someone will give this movie the right treatment (Criterion?).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating. October 21, 1999
By D. Mok
Format:VHS Tape
Though comments have rightly been made about the dated status of this movie (don't laugh at the incredibly slow typing speed of the computer engineers -- this was before the real Information Age!), Scanners hasn't lost its edge or intelligent menace.
Watch the sequels to see how much havoc was wreaked on this concept, and then you'll see the craft Cronenberg instilled into the horror sequences here. A suitable cast helps -- the strangely colourless Stephen Lack, who is an uninteresting protagonist in the beginning but turns out to be the exact thing the movie needed; Patrick McGoohan (who later won raves for his performance in Braveheart) adding a touch of authority and melodrama; and psychotic Michael Ironside. His final interaction with Lack, which I've watched about 30 times, succeeds on their respective intensity, a great Howard Shore score, impeccable editing, and on-the-mark special effects.
Put this one in your library as one of the most original and engrossing of horror and sci-fi movies, and bear it in mind should you ever venture into one of the sequels. The Christian Duguay-directed Scanners 2 and Scanners III made "Scanners" a shameful moniker, but the original holds up to any other horror classic, giving The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Freaks and Halloween a run for their money.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars but rather than prattle on with details you can read in the synopsis...
Ah, Scanners! The classic sci-fi horror story about a group of telepathic killers who can make your head explode by thought alone. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Jim Deth
5.0 out of 5 stars Killer
A classic
Published 1 day ago by Myk Saiten
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie, but HATE the fact that...
...there is now a Criterion Collection edition of this. Sigh... Oh, well, at least the used copy I found was inexpensive.
Published 4 days ago by John A. Sanchez
5.0 out of 5 stars Scanners Blu-Ray worth the buy
I just purchased the Criterion Collection's release of David Cronenberg's "Scanners". I have hungrily been waiting for this one to come out on Blu-ray, and was ecstatic when I... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars film has never looked better. Scanners seems to drive a wedge between...
Scanners (1981) 2014 Criterion release.

I just received my newly released Criterion version of Cronenbergs Scanners... film has never looked better. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Michael Schumacher
5.0 out of 5 stars existential horror
This film terrified me like no other when I first saw it - on channel 9 years ago. Sitting in the darkness watching the film unfold I felt a sense of anxiety and dread I had never... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Conan
4.0 out of 5 stars ITCH HEAD~~!!
New government project is on the line for first mind-power control. The results are in as you witness an new wave of terrior.
Published 2 months ago by Happy Shopping
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious.
I'm not sure if it was the wooden acting or the pedantic dialogue -- contrived purely, strophe/antestrophe style, for plot exposition -- that killed this film for me. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Daniel J. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Scanners
This film has such a strange place in my life but I was delighted to find an affordable copy which I received nearly immediately. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stew
5.0 out of 5 stars dvd
Great English and German spoken language great picture region 6 region code b very happy with this dvd played ok
Published 3 months ago by Dennis B.
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New Book on Cronenberg
David Cronenberg interviewed at UCSB Campbell hall by Santa Barbara International Film Festivals Roger Durling after a showing of Eastern Promises taped and edited by Joseph Matheny
Jul 18, 2009 by Joseph Matheny |  See all 2 posts
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