Scanners title

Tag line : Their thoughts can kill!

ScannersAhhh, believe it or not this was my first experience of a Cronenberg film. This one stars Patrick McGoohan as Dr Paul Ruth, who's been studying a group of people known as 'scanners'. Born with a genetic abnormality, after their parents took an experimental tranquiliser called Ethemerol, they can not only read peoples minds, but their thoughts can also control others and even kill.

When a rogue scanner named Revok (played by notorious screen baddie Michael Ironside in an early role), kills Dr Ruth's chief test subject and then overpowers the security guards with his telekinetic powers, he recruits a young homeless man, Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack), who also has scanning abilities, to fight back.

Trying to track down Revok, he comes across various other scanner groups, only to find Revok's waging a war against them in a battle for supremacy. Leading to some exceptional scenes of heads exploding and people being telepathically thrown across rooms.

But, there's a reason why Revok and Vale are more powerful than the others and whilst Dr Ruth appears to be the good guy in this, seems he hasn't been entirely honest and there's a very good reason why Revok is waging his own private war against Dr Ruth and his scanner program...

Released back in 1981, this is certainly one of the more action packed of Cronenberg's films. This one is certainly very enjoyable and a must for Cronenberg fans. The film later spawned a couple of sequels and spin off's, which are watchable, but are not a patch on the original.

Overall marks : 6/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • The film was partially inspired by a chapter from the book 'Naked Lunch' by William S Burroughs, which talks about a group of telepaths who are bent on world domination. Cronenberg also directed a film adaptation of "Naked Lunch" in 1991.

  • The exploding head scene was achieved by filling a prop latex head full of dog food and fake blood and blasting it from behind with a pump action shotgun.

  • The films budget was $4,100,000 (Canadian).

  • The name "Scanners" was taken from the Philip K Dick novel "A Scanner Darkly".

  • RSO records paid to have a banner with their logo shown in the film, which can be seen during the record shop crash. However, by the time the film came out the label was no longer in business, having been bought out by Polygram.

  • The idea of Scanners being born after their parents took an experimental tranquiliser drug was partially inspired by the Thalidomide disaster of the 1960s, when it was revealed that this tranquiliser, which was being given to expectant mothers, resulted in severe genetic deformities in their children.

  • There was an alternate take on the exploding head scene, filmed for the US TV networks, in which the victim dies of a heart attack instead.

  • The film was described by director David Cronenberg as an 'ordeal by fire'. As it had to be rushed into production before the script was finished, in order to qualify for certain tax breaks, which would have otherwise produced a gap in funding. Actress Jennifer O'Neill was unhappy with the violence in the script and Patrick McGoohan was very hostile towards the constant script changes, due to Cronenberg having to write he was filming, due to the rushed start date.

Extra Info.

Cast & Crew.

Buy Online.

Buy online at

Buy the UK DVD

Buy the UK BD

Buy it at Amazon.Com

Buy the US BD/DVD (combo pack)

Notes on affiliate sites.


Other Cronenberg films.


Reviews A-Z.

Reviews index. Home. Menu.