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Scanners [VHS]

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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: Closed-captioned, Color, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • VHS Release Date: August 26, 1997
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304509170
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,313 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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)!


David Cronenberg's 1981 horror film is a darkly paranoid story of a homeless man (Stephen Lack) mistakenly believed to be insane, when in fact he can't turn off the sound of other people's thoughts in his telepathic mind. Helped by a doctor (Patrick McGoohan) and enlisted in a program of "scanners"--telepaths who also can will heads to explode--he becomes involved in a battle against nefarious forces. A number of critics consider this to be Cronenberg's first great film, and indeed it has a serious vision of destiny that rivals some of the important German expressionist works from the silent cinema. Lack is very good as the odd hero, and McGoohan is effectively eccentric and chilly as the scientist who saves him from the street, only to thrust him into a terrible struggle. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

It has good special effects.
Stephen Pletko
It is one of my favorite films ever made and one of the most deceivingly profound horror films ever imagined.
Mad Zack
I won't say any more so that it won't spoil the movie, but lets just say he gets a bit to excited ha ha ha.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on October 25, 2003
Format: DVD
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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A. Sandoc on August 6, 2006
Format: DVD
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 8 people found the following review helpful By Alan Draven on March 14, 2007
Format: DVD
Scanners is the story of a scanner (one who has telekinetic abilities such as blowing others' heads off) by the name of Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) whom doctor Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) enlists to help him seek out an evil scanner, Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), who wants to lead his own army of psychotic scanners to world domination.

This was the film that put David Cronenberg on the map. It's one of his best and 25 years later, it still works; it actually fits this millennium like a glove, with all the experiments going on in science these days. As with all of Cronenberg's movies, he explores multiple themes and the film has more depth than it appears to have at first glance. It's a great blend of sci-fi and horror, at times unsettling, and features awesome special effects (the exploding head at the beginning, the final confrontation between Vale and Revok) and leads to a powerful climax. On the downside, the acting is a bit stiff and uninspired by the majority of the cast (save for Ironside who oozes evil in this role as in all his other roles).

If you're a fan of Cronenberg, what are you waiting for? You should have seen this already! If you like horror and/or sci-fi films, this one's a real treat. It's got a great plot, suspense, cool action scenes and Cronenberg's unique vision. See it today before the remake comes out next year!
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Format: Blu-ray
This frightening but intriguing film = "Scanners" from David Cronenberg (circa 1981) was way ahead of its time - since it's almost like a much darker version 'X-Men' focusing on underground groups of 'mutants' with highly developed telepathic abilities that could be on the cusp of a burgeoning Civil War with humankind! An ambitious concept to be sure (especially on a very modest budget) - but if anyone could work horrific wonders even on a minuscule budget = it was the brilliantly macabre David Cronenberg!

This basically does boil down to a battle of 'pacifist vs. warhawk' (akin to Professor Xavier vs. Magneto) in the form of Cameron Vale (played by Stephen Lack) as the mild-mannered (though more than a bit troubled) mutant mind-reader (i.e. 'scanner') that is just trying to find peace with his un-requested 'powers' against the dark specter of Darryl Revok (foreboding Michael Ironside) a powerful scanner with a superiority complex and grand designs having to do with the domination of humanity!

And since this is an early Cronenberg opus, there are some patently 'gross-out' (though highly original) scenes!
In addition, the beautiful Jennifer O'Neill plays a sympathetic scanner that befriends protagonist Cameron Vale.
And the great intensely erudite Patrick McGoohan (of Classic British Spy/SciFi "Prisoner" fame) plays mastermind Dr. Paul Ruth (who shares a key familial bond with both protagonist and antagonist?!)

This is great-Original-horror-SciFi at its Best (and seriously, shares some key concepts with X-men) - but the Low-budget does show at times, and some viewers might be a bit grossed-out. But if you find other Cronenberg works intriguingly original (like the "Fly" in particular), then you will probably find much to like about this mind-bending, mind-expanding (cranium-exploding?!) outing!
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Topic From this Discussion
New Book on Cronenberg
David Cronenberg interviewed at UCSB Campbell hall by Santa Barbara International Film Festivals Roger Durling sbiff.org 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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