Overall | Scanners (1981) | Scanners II: The New Order (1991) | Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners-Box Set Collection (1981)

Scanners-Box Set Collection (1981)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Overall Package

    The picture quality and audio quality of this set is fairly consistent the whole way through. But as far as a collection goes, the sequels really drag down the original rather than adding anything more or interesting. A complete lack of extras is also perturbing. As a result, I find it hard to endorse the box set as a whole.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - OliverD

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Scanners (1981) | Scanners II: The New Order (1991) | Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners (1981)

Scanners (1981)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 99:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Cronenberg
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jennifer O'Neill
Stephen Lack
Patrick McGoohan
Lawrence Dane
Michael Ironside
Robert A. Silverman
Lee Broker
Mavor Moore
Adam Ludwig
Murray Cruchley
Fred Doederlein
Géza Kovács
Sony Forbes
Case ?
RPI Box Music Howard Shore


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Scanners epitomises much of what controversial Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg sets out to do with his films – create a creepy atmosphere in which to explore themes of technology’s impact on the human body, and the inherent sexuality of technology’s melding into the human form. Whereas film directors such as David Lynch have been more influenced by the works of French impressionist artists and the decontructivist post-modern art world to explore similar notions, Cronenberg has more in common with the futurist school of art – a rebelling against the intentionally vague impressionist movement in favour of linear forms exploring humanity’s connection to the real and the tangible, and in particular the technology upon which we are dependent for our survival and ultimately our evolution.

    The generally linear plot of Scanners follows a homeless man named Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack). Plagued all his life by voices in his head, Vale is brought to the attention of Dr Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) who has discovered a way to help scanners live with their disorder. However, Ruth works for a security company called ConSec and has an ulterior agenda for Vale. When ConSec is attacked by a radical and unstable scanner named Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), Ruth proposes sending Vale to track him down. Vale’s own investigations lead him to a subculture of benevolent scanners, led by art manager Kim Obrist (Jennifer O’Neill). But when the benevolent scanners start getting murdered, Vale finds himself in the crossfire trying to uncover a conspiracy that leads right back to where he started, and the reason for his gifts.

    Themes of mental illness building to greatness – the artistic virtuosity of so many schizophrenic painters, musicians and sculptors – are taken to new levels by Cronenberg in this film. Scanners is essentially a big what if - what if all mentally ill people were not deranged psychotics but actually gifted if different individuals? What would happen if there were lots of these people? Would it not precipitate a conflict of the evolving species, with the benevolent among them wanting to help humanity, and the belligerent wishing to wipe humanity out as an inferior species, much like the war between differing factions of mutants as explored in comic books like The X-Men?

    While less thematically (or intellectually) challenging than Cronenberg’s subsequent 1983 cult masterpiece Videodrome, and less accomplished than the brilliant and terrifying 1986 remake of The Fly, you can see the genesis of both films in Scanners. Indeed, had Cronenberg had the budget and cast of The Fly to make Scanners, this too might have been a greater commercial success, remembered in the annals of horror and science fiction less as a cult classic and more as one of the greats. This does not mean that Scanners could have been a great success merely if it had had more money, and I am wary of the Hollywood remake of Scanners set for 2005. While information is scant at this point in time, unless Cronenberg himself is on board and at the helm (which at the time of this review he is not), it is going to take an extremely talented director to make more out of this than Cronenberg did.

    The faults with the original Scanners, however, do have a lot to do with casting and budgetary restraints. Lack does a passable job, but is far from outstanding. Ironside is ultimately far more convincing as the deranged scanner Revok, and even Lack’s female counterpart Jennifer O’Neill ultimately does a better job than he does, despite her smaller role. The script too suffers from several flaws, rushing towards a conclusion that could have been much better if it had been paced slightly better. Too many loose ends were tied up too quickly, and clumsily, while others were left hanging in the wind – an intentional ploy on Cronenberg’s behalf, no doubt, but some of the ties could easily have been left as threads as well, in keeping with such an approach.

    What this ultimately comes down to, though, is that even a decent but flawed Cronenberg film is much better than a big budget Hollywood movie with a script drafted by producers, a bunch of big name actors, and ultimately no ideas. Cronenberg, on the other hand, is far more adept at cramming more ideas into ten minutes than most filmmakers can get into two hours. For that reason, Scanners will remain a rightly deserved cult classic.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Unless you have been out to the Astor cinema on a cult night, or have purchased the R1 release, it is likely you have not seen this film in all its glory. Thankfully, Universal have provided us with a fairly smooth transfer in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (which is very close to the original ratio or 1.85:1), and enhanced for 16x9 viewing.

    If anything, this transfer is a little soft, although this never really results in a noticeable lack of detail.

    Shadow detail is acceptable, but reduced due to the quality of the original print – some scenes are not as well lit as they could be, likely due to budgetary constraints, and this can result in a slight murkiness to the image, rather than a well graded shading.

    Colour is a little washed out, but for the most part well balanced. Most of this is likely due to the age of the print and the quality of the film used to make the film in the first place.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video transfer artefacts crop up every now and then, and mostly consist of moire on the tweed jackets favoured by much of the cast. There was some faint background aliasing, but this was greatly reduced due to the softness of the image.

    There was quite a bit of dirt on the print, and the odd tiny hair here and there, but nothing woefully distracting.

    There are no subtitles.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is only available in 2.0 Dolby Mono in English.

    This track is acceptable, but suffers from a lot of audio sync problems, as if nearly all of Lack’s dialogue were dubbed over in post-production. I vaguely recall the VHS version I first saw suffering from similar problems, but it had been borrowed out so many times by that point that many of the faults were attributable to the quality of the tape, not the source material. In any event, the sound is not as well done here as it was done for the DVD release of Videodrome, and a worthlessly pale shadow compared to the sound on the DVD release of The Fly.

    The score by Howard Shore is quite effective at times, and suits the film quite nicely. It is nothing by the standards of the passionate score done for The Fly, or even the haunting score done for Cronenberg’s more post-modern exploration of sexual passion, the highly controversial Crash. But it does work, no more so than the final blood-soaked confrontation where it adds much to the exploding veins and gushing blood.

    Due to the mono origins of this track, there are no directional cues and no subwoofer use. Definitely a wasted opportunity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has the score playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo which contrasts greatly with the actual soundtrack.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version comes as a single disc, without the two non-Cronenberg sequels. The R1 version reportedly also has the original theatrical trailer, and comes with a French 2.0 Dolby Surround track and subtitles in English and Spanish.

    There is also apparently an R2 release which is only available in 1.33:1, Pan & Scan.

    The R1 release gets my vote.

Summary

    Scanners is not as good as many of Cronenberg’s later films, but given the budgetary constraints placed on him he has done a fantastic job of creating a film that will – for better or worse – stick in your head. And if you’re really lucky, your head will not explode in a shower of gore afterwards.

    Video is very smooth, if a little soft. Infinitely better than when I saw it on VHS, though.

    The 2.0 Dolby Mono track is limited, but for the most part serviceable. The lack of other language options is a bit of a shortfall for our multicultural society.

    There is nothing, not even a lowly trailer, in the way of extras. This is more than a little disappointing as a commentary on the special make up effects would have been quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R2 AR -
Region 2 French disc -

Overall | Scanners (1981) | Scanners II: The New Order (1991) | Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners II: The New Order (1991)

Scanners II: The New Order (1991)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 100:24
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Christian Duguay
Studio
Distributor
Malofilm Group
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring David Hewlett
Deborah Raffin
Yvan Ponton
Isabelle Mejias
Tom Butler
Raoul Trujillo
Vlasta Vrana
Murray Westgate
Doris Petrie
Michael Rudder
David Francis
Stephen Zarou
Tom Harvey
Case ?
RPI Box Music Marty Simon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Scanners II: The New Order is the first of the non-Cronenberg sequels packaged with the original Scanners in the Region 4 box set release. It is not hard to see why this was done, as it is unlikely that anyone would willingly pay money for this film alone.

    Scanners II is not as bad as the next sequel in the series, but it’s not a good movie either. The plot follows a corrupt police commander, Forrester (Yvan Ponton), who is plotting to use scanners to take over the city, and then to restore order to America. To control the scanners, Forrester has enlisted the aid of Dr. Morse (Tom Butler) whose new drug Ephemerol 2 helps scanners to control their power, despite its addictive nature. But with the scanners under the drug becoming less and less capable, Forrester finds himself searching for a new scanner who is in control of his powers. Enter David Kellum (David Hewlett), student of veterinary medicine and all round nice guy. He just also happens to be a scanner and doesn’t know it. But once David gets in over his head with Forrester, can he prevent the ‘new order’ from being established, or will he be murdered by Forrester’s scanners – particularly the psychopathic Drak (Raoul Trujillo) who is just itching for someone to kill.

    What’s wrong with this film? There are weaknesses in just about every aspect of it – from the acting, to the scripting, the direction, the casting and the music. That said, this is not an atrocious movie, and is fairly entertaining as a solid B- kind of flick. But as a net result of these faults, it turns out to be not an especially good movie either, and definitely a pale shadow of the original. I have seen worse films – I have seen the sequel to this. But there is scant little that I can pull out of Scanners II: The New Order for endorsement either. It reminds me a lot of a low budget horror movie, which – surprise, surprise – it is. In that respect, at least it delivers on the gore. But it is just too camp at times and too melodramatic at other times for me to take it seriously. The net result is an overall unevenness that does not work to the film’s advantage.

    If it’s late at night and you’ve got nothing better to watch, maybe think about giving this a try. But it is not my pick as 1am movie of the week – maybe 3am.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. Though unconfirmed, I believe the original aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so this isn’t far from it.

    As with the original, the transfer is a little soft which also counteracts graininess.

    Shadow detail is pretty good although most of the night shots are still fairly well artificially lit.

    Colour is well balanced, but seems a little faded, without any contemporary radiance which we are used to for big budget Hollywood flicks.

    MPEG artefacts are absent, and film-to-video transfer artefacts were minimal, limited to some background moire effect on grille plates and the like.

    There is some dirt on the print which is to be expected from a low budget movie from the early 1990s, but nothing disastrous.

    There are no subtitles.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is only available in 2.0 Dolby Stereo in English.

    This track is pretty good as stereo tracks go, with nicely rendered dialogue, and only minor syncing issues.

    The score is not bad, retaining much of the original themes done by Howard Shore for the original.

    There are some left right cues, but nothing significant, and it took me a while to work out that this was stereo not mono.

    There is no subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has the score playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I can tell, this DVD is currently not available in R1 on DVD.

Summary

    Scanners II: The New Order is decent as a B-movie, but not terribly inspiring otherwise. Although made 10 years after its predecessor, you wouldn’t know it to look at it.

    Video is a touch soft, but not spectacular.

    The 2.0 Dolby Stereo track get the job done without being anything flash.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, September 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Scanners (1981) | Scanners II: The New Order (1991) | Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 96:03
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Christian Duguay
Studio
Distributor
Malofilm Group
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Liliana Komorowska
Valérie Valois
Steve Parrish
Colin Fox
Daniel Pilon
Peter Wright
Sith Sekae
Harry Hill
Claire Cellucci
Michael Copeman
Chip Chuipka
Jean Frenette
Sylvain Beauchamps
Case ?
RPI Box Music Marty Simon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Two words: God awful.

    Scanners III: The Takeover is everything bad about sequels and then some. It follows the story of a pair of scanner twins adopted by the wealthy CEO of a pharmaceutical company. When one scanner, Alex Monet (Steve Parrish), accidentally kills his best friend, he flees to Thailand. His sister Helena (Liliana Komoowska) remains, plagued by headaches, until one day her father brings home Ephemerol 3 – an experimental drug that is not as addictive as its predecessors. Sadly, it also induces psychosis and so Helena goes on a rampage killing people in order to take over her father’s enterprise, and then one day the world. It’s up to her brother to stop her, but can he put his past behind him and control his powers in order to save the world?

    I started watching this on the tail of Scanners II: The New Order, and by the end of it I felt like I’d just spent a month at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay. Forget sleep deprivation and evangelism – put this on repeat and you’ll be broken, I guarantee it. I think it’s time to indict director Christian Duguay for crimes against cinema, and make him watch this on repeat, over and over, until hauled before a Cinematic Tribunal.

    The worst thing – the acting is bad. Really bad. Wooden, uninspired, camp, and really silly. And that was the good moments. Not that the cast have anything to work with – they don’t. This script is so thin I’m surprised it didn’t crumble into ash on the way to the studio execs.

    In short – Don’t waste your time. I’m not wasting any more of mine...

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This has been transferred at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced – I think this was done originally at 1.85:1, though I have no confirmation of this. Regardless, this is not a huge difference.

    The picture is slightly soft. The softness compensates for any graininess. Shadow detail is good, but a little murky due to the softness.

    Colour is better than previous Scanners releases, but is still slightly washed out.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video transfer artefacts are limited to minor aliasing. There was some dirt on the print but nothing too bad.

    There are no subtitles.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only an English 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack.

    Dialogue is reasonably clear, and sync was acceptable, though not always perfect with the dialogue.

    The score is about the same as the first one – which was done over 10 years previously. Get a new act guys.

    There is minimal surround information and no subwoofer use.

Extras

Menus

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has periodic laughter. I’m not laughing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has not yet been released in R1 on DVD.

Summary

    Scanners III: The Takeover ... I can’t mince words, it is just plain bad. Aside from the spa scene, which was pleasant on the eyes if unpleasant on the ears, this is torture.

    Video is decent.

    The audio track is limited but does the job.

    There are no extras. Thankfully.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Best movies ever made -
Scanners R2 release-Box set with 5.1 sound -