• Scanners II: The New Order/Scanners III: The Takeover



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: September 10, 2013.
    Director: Christian Duguay
    Cast: David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Steve Parrish
    Year: 1991
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    The Films:

    SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER

    The original SCANNERS, despite its modest budget and lack of Hollywood backing (it was a Canadian production) was an artistic and financial success due to it's visionary director and creator David Cronenberg. It was inevitable that a sequel would be produced but without the involvement of Cronenberg SCANNERS II never had much of a chance to be more than a serviceable programmer. On that level it certainly succeeds.

    Picking up where the original left off, this sequel focuses on how the government is attempting to both control and harness the mental powers of the scanners. Since those with the scanning ability can both gain access to hidden parts of other people's minds and also cause terrifying physical destruction to the human body the powers that be have employed the skills of one Doctor Morse (Tom Butler). Morse has developed techniques for controlling the scanners through narcotics. He's in an unholy alliance with an ambitious and unethical cop named John Forrester (Yvan Ponton). The two are looking for a special individual to become the secret weapon in their crime fighting task force and they find it with David Kellum (David Hewlett) - a decent and seemingly stable young man with scanner powers.

    Ever hear the one about absolute power? Well, as Forrester gets more successful in crie solving using the young man's abilities he becomes progressively more megalomaniacal. He's planning on using his "scanner force" to create some kind of new world order resembling a fascist nightmare. But David has seen the writing on the wall and with the help of his sister Julie Vale (Deborah Raffin) is determined to stop Forrester.

    Director Christian Duguay isn't Cronenberg and in all fairness he doesn't try to be either. He's more of an action director and SCANNERS II moves at a pace more suited to something like THE HIDDEN. The political machinations of Forrester are interesting to watch but the real fun is in the sequences like the opening in the video arcade. The movie feels like one of those HBO staples that ran nonstop on cable in the 80's but that's not really a bad thing.

    SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER

    The second sequel was shot directly after the first but frankly it may as well have been shot on Mars. While II is a basically straightforward affair the one is as nutty as a Planter's factory.

    The plot is an unholy mess that has something to do with a doctor named Elton Monet (Colin Fox) who has spent years studying the scanners and searching for a cure. Turns out the good doc has a son and daughter who are both scanners - Alex (Steve Parrish) and Helena (Liliana Komorowska). There was even a family tragedy involving his son losing control of his abilities that led to a death. Obviously, when it comes to a cure Dr. Monet has some very personal dogs in this fight.

    Monet seems to have found a cure that works but it still needs further testing to make sure it's safe. In steps daughter Helena to volunteer to be his Guinea pig. She is his only option since son Alex is off on a religious retreat to get control of his "abilities". Dr. Monet doesn't really want to use drugs at this point yet on her though - he wants more tests. But it's that bad Jekyll and Hyde deal when Helena gets a killer headache and takes a dose of the miracle drug without Monet knowing.

    The drug instantly makes her feel better but the side effects are a massive increase in sex drive and murderous impulses. This is where III goes off the rails. Helena tries to raise an army of Scanners by widely disseminating daddy's drug initially but then figures out she can use the media and television too. But unlike something intellectual and visceral like VIDEODROME that explored this concept brilliantly, SCANNERS III goes at it like a cheap Cannon action flick. Once her brother learns what is going on he returns to stop crazy sis and the writers try to juggle all of this mess into some kind of coherent film.

    They don't. One minute Helena is going Ms. 45 on a former molester and the next brother Alex is trying to thwart his sexy evil sister from raising a scanner army and wiping people out with TV signals ala HALLOWEEN III. There are really about three movies here - and we've seen 'em all before. SCANNERS III does get a G for gonzo award though. It's a mess - but a pretty watchable one and Lilliana is definitely easy on the eyes.

    VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS:

    Scream Factory deliver both films in serviceable 1080p AVC 1.78 transfers. Despite some of the optical effects looking slightly soft the overall detail is very good. Edge enhancement and DNR were not noticeable but grain is heavier than normal though it seems inherent in the film elements. This isn't digital "noise". Detail, color reproduction and skin tones are represented in both films well. These are workmanlike but acceptable transfers. You won't see a lot of pop in the image but you won't be distracted by inferior image reproduction either.

    Both films get above average DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo tracks. Since these are lossless tacks they are an obvious step up from the DVD issues. Balance and separation are good and dialog is clear at all times. The score sounds strong - but without either an extensive remix or specially created surround track it can be slightly weak at times. It does appear faithful to original elements however.

    Extras? None - not even a trailer.

    THE FINAL WORD:

    SCANNERS II is an entertaining and efficient programmer. Fans of the first film will enjoy the ride if they keep their expectations in check. SCANNERS III is an objectively terrible film that nevertheless has some charm due to its gonzo mentality, gratuitous nudity and crazy quilt plotting. All told I'd recommend this package.



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    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I've just finished revisiting SCANNERS II via the Second Sight Blu. (I haven't seen this one since it was first released on VHS in the UK.) It's an odd film, very uneven, that offers a strange pastiche of Cronenberg's aesthetic (the sterile labs, etc) and themes (corporate conspiracies) but which seems to have its tongue in its cheek. I find it hard to imagine that the filmmakers didn't intend or understand the ironies in the sequence in which the handsome hero meets the 'bad Scanner' Drak in an alleyway, and Drak threatens, 'I'm going to suck you dry, pretty boy'. It's a very odd film, but quite enjoyable. Looking forward to revisiting SCANNERS III next.