Release Date(s)1990/1991 (September 20, 2013)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: F+
- Overall Grade: C
The Scanners series has always been an interesting set of films to me. Most people don’t even acknowledge the sequels these days, but thanks to Scream Factory, two of the film’s sequels, Scanners II: The New Order and Scanners III: The Takeover, are now available for those who are interested in them.
David Cronenberg’s Scanners is a terrific film, and the sequels to it have been kind of ignored over the years by most people. I can’t honestly say I had ever seen them before now either. If you’re unfamiliar with the storyline of these films, Scanners are people that have both telepathic and telekinetic abilities. They can read people’s minds, but they can also take control of people’s bodies, doing bodily harm if they so choose. They’re usually caught up in schemes by others who are out to exploit and/or control them for their own sinister purposes. Anyone who considers themselves a horror fan should be familiar with the head-exploding scene in the first film. It was the most memorable thing about it, so it was duplicated in the following films, but much less memorably by comparison.
The first film involves scanners being pitted against each other. One is a renegade trying to escape from the clutches of the corporation ConSec and start an underground scanner movement, while the other works for ConSec and is out to this renegade and bring him back into the corporate fold. The fictional drug ephemerol, which helps to enhance scanner ability, is used on the ConSec scanner to help provide him with the means to hunt the renegade scanner down. In the sequel, Scanners II: The New Order, a corrupt cop uses a scanner to allow him to ascend the ranks and gain more power within the police force. When the scanner ultimate decides that what he did was wrong, he attempts to flee. The cop (now Chief of Police) uses a new version of ephemerol called Eph2 on another scanner to help track him down. In the third film, Scanners III: The Takeover, a third version of the drug, Eph3, is used by a timid and shy scanner. Becoming addicted to it, it changes her attitude and enhances her abilities. She then sets her sights on taking over the world, but her scanner brother is there to stand in her way. These three films were also followed by two spin-off films: Scanner Cop and Scanner Cop II (AKA Scanners: The Showdown).
As you can see, the Scanners series doesn’t really follow any of the same characters from film to film, but it doesn’t really matter all that much in the scheme of things. The characters in each film are pretty forgettable anyways, save for the scenery-chewing evil scanner in the third film, but it’s amazing that more sequels kept getting made. They’re not very good, but it’s not for lack of trying. They have some good ideas, but unfortunately, they don’t really do enough with them. The makeup effects are pretty good, but again, not as memorable as the original film. Going into a sequel to the original Scanners without any involvement from David Cronenberg whatsoever could have proven disastrous, but the films have managed to develop a bit of a cult following despite themselves. They’re worth a watch, but not much more than that.
Both films featured on both the Blu-ray and DVD from Scream Factory are pretty much identical, besides the quality, of course. Speaking of which, those expecting amazingly-detailed image and sound quality from this release will probably be a little disappointed. Granted these films were shot low budget and were basically tossed off to cable and home video, so that must be taken into account.
The quality on the Scanners II portion of the proceedings only makes it up to passable but not very impressive quality. It’s a very soft picture with light film grain and an unimpressive color palette. Brightness and contrast are ok, and blacks aren’t incredibly deep, but this presentation definitely won’t knock your socks off. In the following sequel, Scanners III, you’ll find an even softer and less-impressive image. Film grain is slightly elevated, but the overall picture quality is not as good by comparison. Both films are watchable, but won’t wow you with great picture quality. The same goes for the audio on both films, which both feature an English 2.0 DTS-HD track. They sound ok, but lack any kind of real punch. The best stuff in both soundtracks is actually the sound effects, especially when it comes to the “scanning” portions when peoples’ heads explode. Dialogue is clear enough, but the overall quality is lacking. Again, this is not surprising for low budget films of these sort. No subtitles have been included either.
And as for the extras, nada, and the DVD is a duplicate other than the fact that you get a Dolby Digital soundtrack instead of DTS-HD. So this release is really for Scream Factory completists and fans of the Scanners series in general. To be fair, these films having not been available before, it’s nice to have access to them, even with lackluster video and audio presentations. There’s been talk of a remake and TV series in the past (the latter could be interesting), but really, there’s not much more that can be done with it without retreading old territory. But, these films do have their fans, and if you are a fan, you should probably pick this one up.
Scanners II: The New Order
Film Rating: C
Disc Rating (Video/Audio/Extras) C+/C+/F+
Scanners III: The Takeover
Film Rating: C
Disc Rating (Video/Audio/Extras) C/C+/F+
- Tim Salmons