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Year: 1981
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 103 min
Director: David Cronenberg
Producer: Claude Héroux
Executive Producer: Pierre David, Victor Solnicki
Writer: David Cronenberg
Cinematographer: Mark Irwin
Editor: Ronald Sanders
Sound: Don Cohen
Music: Howard Shore
Cast: Robert Silverman, Stephen Lack, Lawrence Dane, Louis Grande, Jennifer O'Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside, Mavor Moore
Production Company: Filmplan international II Inc.

Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack), a thirty-five-year-old derelict with incredible powers and a mysterious background, is accosted by henchmen from the ComSec research agency and taken to meet Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan). Cameron is informed that he is one of the world’s two hundred and thirty-seven “scanners,” people born with a powerful telepathic ability. He is enlisted by Dr. Ruth to infiltrate the scanner collective and put a stop to the efforts of Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), an evil renegade who uses his powers against ComSec’s scanners and, in the case of one, causes his head to explode.

Cameron attempts to track Revok down through other scanners, but Revok stays one step ahead of him by killing the scanners before Cameron can get any information from them. Cameron then discovers that Revok is the head of a rival corporation, Biocarbon Amalgamate, that plans to take over the world with an army of evil scanners. He also discovers that his bond with Revok is more than telepathic, leading to a final showdown between the two.

Director David Cronenberg’s biggest commercial breakthrough at the time, Scanners continues the genre approach and dark, existential themes of his earlier work. Though it resonates as a fast-paced, action-oriented thriller, the film is less polished and sophisticated than his earlier The Brood (1979), and lacks the depth and clarity of vision he would bring to his next work, Videodrome (1982). However, it exhibits many of Cronenberg’s characteristic motifs – penetration anxieties, psychological insight as a destructive force, the mutation of human beings into something disturbingly different – and tropes – a mad scientist who dooms society by trying to better it, the view of corporations as dominant and unstoppable forces bent on ruling mankind.

Scanners is a pleasantly derivative sci-fi horror picture with echoes of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), Brian de Palma’s Carrie (1976) and Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), Scanners was nominated for eight Genie Awards but won none. It spawned several direct-to-video sequels aimed at the teenage horror market.

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