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Author Topic: Scanners (1981)
dan2448
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 1473
Post Scanners (1981)
on: February 11, 2017, 08:33

Has anyone seen this 1981 sci-fi movie, about two opposing groups of psionic mutants (one good, one bad) battling to the death in urban, near future Canada?

Since I was a teenager I have had a 'soft spot' for psionics as somehow more 'realistic' super powers.

It aired on the TCM channel in America last weekend. So I DVRd it and watched it. It was low budget, and a little confusing in some spots. But generally I really liked it.

Anyone else who has seen it have any thoughts about it?

R_Mortisse
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 484
Post Re: Scanners (1981)
on: February 21, 2017, 00:35

The first one is the best one. (And thats mostly just because Patrick "the Prisoner" McGoohan and Michael "Revak!" ironside are in it.) the rest of the series goes decidedly downhill. (Scanner Cop is horrible.) if you want to see an equal quality, unrelated movie about the same topic.... I recommend "the Sender". Its about equal to the first Scanners movie, qualitywise and has one of my alltime favorite psychic power scenes from any movie. (HINT: its a VERY bad idea to give a telepath electroshock-therapy... For a multitude of reasons!)
Eph2 and Ephemerol have both showed up as plot McGuffins, in some of my variou superhero campaigns. (Along with Cyberline, the Supersoldier serum, Herculon, Mercuriol, Atalon, Framium, and Klerium. Just to name a few.)
Also, on the one and only occasion that I ran FGUs old Psi-World rpg... Scanners was my default setting..

Tempest
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 393
Post Re: Scanners (1981)
on: February 21, 2017, 12:30

I was sixteen when this came out as an R rated movie (somehow managed to pass the age barrier; perhaps that Amish outfit with the full-length beard I was wearing cast the illusion), and yes, it is one that, like many of David Cronenberg's earlier works, manages to claim a flag-place in memory if for the shock value as much as anything else. Steven Lack, as many others have noted quite vociferously, didn't even manage to tread water as an actor over the course of the story; the performance aspect was saved by, as has been stated, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside, and the God-given Jennifer O'Neill (I hadn't seen Summer of '42 at that point); as a non-psi combatant, I would have taken on Darryl Revok just for the opportunity to spend a single night with the girl.

Regarding Psi-World: Yeah, we gave the game a brief run-through as well during the RPG halcyon era. I remember the critical analyses I read some years later; most of the points were about how the game engine worked very nicely but the setting, and consequently the kind of things characters could do, was kind of restrictive - sort of like an X-Men context with a very limited range of powers for characters, PC and NPC alike, to evidence, and consequently the range of stories could prove to be somewhat limited. One of my brothers - also in the game - did a bit on the prejudice Psis faced that echoes to this day (our characters had been reduced to hitchhiking after a particularly disastrous encounter): "Yer a Psi, ain'tcha?" "No, what's a Psi?" "Git outta my truck." On the other hand, had the range of powers and options been expanded, I could very well see how the game could have become something of an RPG staple.

dan2448
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 1473
Post Re: Scanners (1981)
on: February 23, 2017, 13:29

Quote from Tempest on February 21, 2017, 12:30
Steven Lack, as many others have noted quite vociferously, didn't even manage to tread water as an actor over the course of the story; the performance aspect was saved by, as has been stated, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside...

While watching the film, I did think that the lead actor played his role a little 'flat'. It was only after I finished watching the film, and Googled the reviews, that I discovered his performance was so generally panned.

One of the draws of the film for me personally was Patrick McGoohan. But I was a little disappointed by him in this film, mostly because his full beard made him (to me anyway) nearly unrecognizable and diminished his characteristic 'intensity.'

Quote from Tempest on February 21, 2017, 12:30 Regarding Psi-World: Yeah, we gave the game a brief run-through as well during the RPG halcyon era. I remember the critical analyses I read some years later; most of the points were about how the game engine worked very nicely but the setting, and consequently the kind of things characters could do, was kind of restrictive - sort of like an X-Men context with a very limited range of powers for characters, PC and NPC alike, to evidence, and consequently the range of stories could prove to be somewhat limited.

I loved the 'world' of Psi World. I bought the game originally only because the box featured a Bill Willingham painting. Typical of the time it was published, the setting details were mostly sprinkled throughout the short rulebook, like brief tantalizing 'glimpses' or 'clues.' On hindsight I definitely see the X-Men connection. But at the time, I thought that the Psi-Police hunting Psi-powered people was reminiscent of Blade Runner. I found the near future, quasi-police state, alternative energy-fueled, space-station habitated world of Psi World so compelling. So much so that, when I was in law school 25 years ago, I found a copy of the rulebook from the box set for sale in a used bookstore for $1. I bought it, put it in a manila file folder, and then began adding to that folder newspaper and magazine articles that I read from time-to-time, which, to me, evoked that fascinating world. I've kept that folder with me throughout my professional life, and even took it with me to Europe and Asia. I still have it, and, to this, day, every couple of years see another such article and go hunting in a closet for that 25 year old manila file folder.

dan2448
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 1473
Post Re: Scanners (1981)
on: February 23, 2017, 13:35

Accidental duplicate post.

cptpatriot
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 20
Post Re: Scanners (1981)
on: February 24, 2017, 04:52

I liked Scanners, though I have to agree with dan2448's take on the lead's performance. Perhaps you might enjoy Thoughtcrimes http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0339785/. I enjoyed Navi Rawat's performance in it.

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