Greatest Film Scenes
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Scanners (1981)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Scanners (1981)

Writer/director David Cronenberg's science-fiction horror film was about the incredible and awesome abilities of certain humans (known as 'scanners'), who had remarkable psycho-telekinetic and mind-reading powers - similar in concept to The Fury (1978). Scanners was Cronenberg's fourth sci-fi horror film after Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), and The Brood (1979).

Scanners were created as a result of scientific research and pharmaceutical drug experimentation that went awry. Pregnant women who had taken Ephemerol as a sedative produced mental aberrations and hyperactive brain synapses in their unborn children - causing them to be born with scanner powers. The film became infamous for its early sequence of a brain-bursting, exploding-head.

  • in the film's opening set in the year 1985, a private military company known as ConSec, involved in the business of security systems and weapons, was interested in recruiting 'scanners' (those with telepathic and telekinetic powers) to take down a group of renegade scanners, led by 'bad' Scanner renegade-rogue villain Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside)
  • derelict and homeless vagrant Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) was involuntarily causing two women to start convulsing with his powers as a 'scanner'; he was noticed and captured by ConSec agents and then met with one of its researchers, Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan); Dr. Ruth explained how Cameron's rare super-powered abilities could be controlled by injections of Ephemerol that would subdue or inhibit his scanning abilities
  • in ConSec headquarters during an ESP conference and marketing event, the power-mad Revok volunteered to come on-stage with one of ConSec's scanners (Louis Del Grande credited as First Scanner), who was proposing to eventually scan everyone's thoughts in the room. The ConSec scanner prefaced the powerful telepathic demonstration with some caution: "I would like to scan all of you in this room, one at a time. I must remind you that the scanning experience is usually a painful one, sometimes resulting in nosebleeds, ear-aches, stomach cramps, nausea. Sometimes other symptoms of a similar nature."
  • the scanner then instructed the volunteer Darryl Revok to display his telekinetic powers: "Now I'd like you to think of something specific. Something that will not breach the security of your organization and that you will not object to having disclosed to this group. Something personal, perhaps." After Revok responded: "All right, yes, I have something," he demonstrated his brain-bursting telekinetic powers.
The Infamous Brain-Bursting Exploding Head Scene: Darryl Revok vs. ConSec Scanner
  • in a mental duel with ConSec's scanner, Revok exploded the head of the man, showering the front of the room with blood, brains, and skull matter, causing pandemonium and chaos in the audience.

    [Note: The special effects of the head explosion were created by placing dog food and rabbit livers in a fake latex head, and blasting it with a 12-gauge shotgun.]

  • as Darryl was taken away by security at gunpoint, he asserted: "I didn't do anything." Although taken into custody, Darryl successfully resisted an injection of Ephemerol, and killed numerous security guards with further scanning powers before escaping
  • the next day, ConSec's Chairman Trevellyan (Mavor Moore) announced the results of their conference with 'telepathic curiosities' known as scanners: "The result: six corpses and a substantial loss in credibility for our organization"; ConSec's Head of Security Braedon Keller (Lawrence Dane) urged shutting down the program
  • Dr. Ruth opposed the shutdown and argued that Revok's dangerous group needed to be infiltrated and destroyed, and proposed exploiting Cameron Vale as their special scanner-weapon; meanwhile, it was revealed that Keller was a traitor and part of Revok's organization; he secretly informed Revok of Dr. Ruth's infiltration plan into the Scanner underworld
  • while avoiding assassination attempts on his life, Vale met up with another 'good' telepathic scanner named Kim Obrist (Jennifer O'Neill) who was also opposed to Revok's conspiracy to dominate the world with scanners
  • after Keller's killing of Dr. Ruth (ordered by Revok), Cameron (with his cyberpathic abilities through a payphone) was able to infiltrate-hack into ConSec's super-computer system, to learn about how ConSec's subsidiary company known as Biocarbon Amalgamate (conspiratorially used by Revok) was shipping ephemerol to doctors, to administer to their pregnant female patients in order to turn their offspring into scanners - a new generation for the future; Keller had planned for the ConSec supercomputer system to self-destruct and destroy Vale when plugged in, but his plan backfired and Keller died in an explosion
  • the biggest reveal of the film was that Cameron and Revok were long-lost scanner brothers, children of Dr. Ruth who had used the Ephemerol sedative for their mother, and was able to produce the most powerful two scanners in the world
  • later in a second horrific scene - a vicious psychic or telepathic showdown, Darryl threatened to use his scanner powers on Cameron, and they engaged in a mind-control battle after Darryl denounced his brother:

    "You're not listening to me. You're not cooperating, Cam. You're not cooperating with me at all. I've been counting on you for years, Cameron. Tell me you're not gonna betray me like all the rest. Tell me you're not. (Cameron struck Darryl in the face with a large stone paperweight.) All right. We're gonna do it the scanner way. I'm gonna suck your brain dry! Everything you think you are is gonna become me. You're gonna be with me, Cameron, no matter what. After all, brothers should be close, don't you think?"

  • veins in Cameron's arms became to expand dangerously and bleed as a result of Darryl's savage psychic attack, and his swollen face became bloodied as he grabbed at his peeling and corroding face. [Note: The sexual symbolism - swelling veins, moaning, body stiffness, and orgasmic release - was very evident.]
  • before dying from his heart bursting and from internal combustion, Cameron was able to send one final shot toward his screaming brother, whose cheeks and face exhibited pulsating swollen veins while his eyes turned white
  • Cam's body spontaneously ignited, and afterwards his incinerated corpse was found on the floor. Only one man and mind remained. However, it was revealed that Cam had been able to inhabit Darryl's body and take control of it.
  • as a result, Darryl now had Cam's blue eyes, and was missing the forehead scar-mark between his eyebrows. Huddled in a corner of the room under a coat, Darryl spoke in Cam's voice to Kim Obrist: "Kim. It's me, Kim. Cameron. I'm here. We've won. We've won."

Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack)

Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside)

Psychic Scanner Mind-Control Dueling and Mental Assault Between the Two Brothers: Cameron Vale and Darryl Revok

After Telepathic Battle, Cameron's Charred Corpse on the Floor Incinerated by Darryl

Cameron Transferred Into Darryl's Body


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