Scanners (1981)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The title of this David Cronenberg sci-fi horror film refers to a group of people who have telekinetic powers that allow them to read minds and give them the ability to make other people's heads explode. The children of a group of women who took an experimental tranquilizer during their pregnancies, the scanners are now adults and have become outcasts from society. But Darryl (Michael Ironside) decides to create an army of scanners to take over the world. The only person who can stop him is his brother Cameron (Stephen Lack), who wants to forget that he was ever a scanner. Winner of the International Fantasy Film Award at the 1983 Fantasporto Film Festival, Scanners was followed by a pair of sequels, neither of which involved Cronenberg. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
Rating:
R
Genre:
Horror , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cast

Patrick McGoohan
as Dr. Paul Ruth
Adam Ludwig
as Crostic
Victor Désy
as Dr. Gatineau
Mavor Moore
as Trevellyan
Lee Broker
as Security One
Lee Murray
as Programmer 1
Geza Kovacs
as Killer in Record store
Sonny Forbes
as Killer in Attic
Jerome Tiberghien
as Killer in Attic
Denis Lacroix
as Killer in Barn
Louis Del Grande
as First Scanner
Anthony Sherwood
as Scanner in Attic
Ken Umland
as Scanner in Attic
Anne Anglin
as Scanner in Attic
Jack Messinger
as Scanner at Door
Victor Knight
as Dr. Frane
Terry Coady
as Security 1 Car Passenger
Steve Michaels
as Security 1 Car Driver
Malcolm Nelthorpe
as Security 2 Car Driver
Nicholas Kilbertus
as Security 2 Car Passenger
Robert Boyd
as Hallucinating Guard
Alex Stevens
as Programmer 3
Neil Affleck
as Medical Student in Hall
Fred Doederlein
as Dieter Tautz
Dean Hagopian
as Programmer 2
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Critic Reviews for Scanners

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (5)

Like Tod Browning, Cronenberg doesn't have the stylistic resources to match the forcefulness of his ideas, but his movies remain in the mind for the pull of their private obsessions.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

Part conspiracy thriller, part political tract, it is Cronenberg's most coherent movie to date, drawing a dark (but bland) world in which corporate executives engineer human conception to produce ever more powerful mental samurai.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Scanners is so lockstep that we are basically reduced to watching the special effects, which are good but curiously abstract, because we don't much care about the people they're happening around.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The quality of the film's inventiveness is not always of the first order, which is too bad because Mr. Cronenberg does seem to be a director-writer of some style.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Cronenberg's deadpan techno-thriller lampoon

Full Review… | August 13, 2015
CinePassion

Audience Reviews for Scanners

Watching this I try to imagine Cronenberg's directing his lead actors: "I need you to look as if you're trying to blow somebody's head off ... by only thinking about it." I try to imagine his actors processing that direction: "What exactly does THAT look like? What does this guy want?" All about big government conspiracy, and the rebellion against that, this is some big fun if you can get over the age of the work.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

A scientist trains a young man with deadly psychic powers (a "scanner") to infiltrate a group of fellow telepaths bent on world domination. A well-made, uniquely conceived horror thriller, although it lacks the psychological subtexts that make director David Cronenberg's best work dig under your skin.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

A special-effects driven mixed bag of a movie about a group of special people called "scanners" who have the ability to read peoples minds, or if they decide they do not like them or need to make a point, make their heads explode. However, when one ruthless, murdering man named Revok (Michael Ironside) threatens to use his powers to attempt to take over the world, another scanner, Vale (Stephen Lack) makes it his mission to stop him at any cost. The plot is fairly cliché and predictable to a point, with Ironside outshining Lack's performance by a mile thanks to the great intensity and ferocity he gives whenever he is on the screen. It is a largely entertaining movie but it could have used more fleshing out of the story line, one that attempted to throw out at least some surprises once in a while. Far from director David Cronenberg's best works, but ironically, this is the movie that put him on the map so to speak.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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