Scanners offers at least one literally eye-popping moment and another that can only be called mind-blowing.

A variation on the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in that they cannot readily be distinguished from normal humans, scanners are telepathic curiosities who, like Sissy Spacek’s Carrie, are able to zap people and things at will.

There are good scanners and bad scanners and one, Stephen Lack, who is in between and finds himself recruited by scientist Patrick McGoohan to infiltrate the evil group and track down the chief baddie, who has Hitlerian aspirations for his band of psychic gangsters.

Following the pattern of many effects-oriented low-budgeters, story settles into low gear after the opening reel, in which a man’s head explodes on camera.

All this should give fans of David Cronenberg’s previous pix their money’s worth, although lack of any rooting interest vitiates any possible suspense and highly elegant visual style works against much shock value. Ending is also a bit puzzling.



  • Production: Filmplan. Director David Cronenberg; Producer Claude Heroux; Screenplay David Cronenberg; Camera Mark Irwin; Editor Ron Sanders; Music Howard Shore; Art Director Carol Spier
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 102 MIN.
  • With: Stephen Lack Jennifer O'Neill Patrick McGoohan Michael Ironside Lawrence Dane