An early film from David Cronenberg, from his first wave of b-movie horror films. Scanners was made the year I was born (1981), I remember seeing it when I was pretty young and finding it a disturbing watch. There was something unsettling about the tone of the film and the idea of someone being able to get inside my head and kill me with just the power of their mind.
Watching it now it’s aged, but still manages to be pretty disturbing all the same. Yeah, most of the acting is wooden, it’s badly dubbed in parts, laughably corny in a few places and the effects might be dated, but they still have a charm and the infamous exploding head is as good today as it was back in 1981.
It’s Cronenberg's intense direction, ideas, and use of audio and visuals that make it effective and these basic elements continue to serve him well today, only with bigger budgets and better casts. The films strongest card is Michael Ironside, who makes for a formidable villain, he seems to be channelling a bit of a angry Jack Nicholson in his performance, snarling and chewing scenery as he epitomises pure evil. It's a solid piece of acting in the midst of the b-grade support. He doesn't seem to get the credit he deserves, but he’ll always have fans in the cult film world for his roles in Scanners, Total Recall and the cult sci-fi series V.
It’s not the best of Cronenberg's films, it's not even the best of his early works, but it’s a memorable piece of b-movie history nonetheless and a movie that always comes up in conversations about cult film. 7/10