Scanners

Director: David Cronenberg
Written by: David Cronenberg
Features: Stephen Lack, Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside

Year / Country: 1981, Canada
Running Time: 103 mins.

Master of body horror David Cronenberg, moves into the mental domain with this masterful movie. Scanners are telepathic humans who pick up every thought in their surroundings and can ‘scan’ other people.

The drifter Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is a scanner who isn’t aware of his condition. He is a victim of it. But under the guidance of scientist Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) – head of the scanner programme of security company ConSec – he learns to use his gift.

ConSec, like the United States army has done, uses these ‘telepathic curiosities’ to gather information on potential enemies. It goes wrong however, when the psychopathic super-scanner Darryl Revok (a superb Michael Ironside) starts an underground movement of scanners. And they murder anybody who won’t join them on their mission to conquer the world…

Ruth enlists the yet unaffiliated Vale to help him stop the telepathic maniac Revok. Together with Kim Obrist (Jennifer O’Neill), ‘good’ scanner Vale meets on his journey, he goes after Revok and a clash of powerful minds ensues.

Scanners shows once again why Cronenberg is one of the most skillful directors working in this genre. The way he is able to convey a sense of unease and danger with little means is remarkable. And Scanners – which allegedly had a troublesome production history – belongs to his finest works. With brilliant sound design and an extremely memorable ending.

Rating:

Biography: David Cronenberg (1943, Toronto), also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, grew up in Toronto. His father was a journalist and his mother a piano player. Cronenberg graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in literature after switching from the science department. He then turned to filmmaking and reached a cult status with a few early horror features including Shivers and Rabid. He rapidly became a very popular genre filmmaker and eventually a true auteur, making profound statements on modern humanity and ever-changing society.

Filmography (a selection): Transfer (1966, short) / Stereo (1969) / Shivers (1975) / Rabid (1977) / Fast Company (1979) / The Brood (1979) / Scanners (1981) / The Dead Zone (1983) / The Fly (1986) / Dead Ringers (1988) / Naked Lunch (1991) / Crash (1996) / eXistenZ (1999) / Spider (2002) / A History of Violence (2005) / Eastern Promises (2007) / A Dangerous Method (2011) / Cosmopolis (2012)

Dungeon Classics #16: Blade II

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Blade II (2002, Germany | USA)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman
Running Time: 117 mins.

The first Blade was extremely cool, Guillermo del Toro’s sequel is even better! It’s dark, gory, hyper tense and spectacular. The story revolves around a new breed of vampires – the reapers – who are way more dangerous and bloodthirsty than regular vampires (they even prey on them!). Also, they cannot be killed by silver, only by sunlight. Blade is gonna have a tough time facing these creatures, but he doesn’t stand alone. Whistler (Kristofferson), who somehow survived the first movie, is on his side. So is a group of elite warrior vampires known as the Bloodpack. But can Blade really trust his sworn enemies? Obviously not. The combined group of badasses travel to Eastern Europe to hunt down and exterminate the reapers. Expect hyper cool action and dark horror. Of the three Blade films, Wesley Snipes likes this one best. And right he is.

Dungeon Classics #15: Blade

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Blade (1998, USA)

Director: Stephen Norrington
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson
Running Time: 120 mins.

Things are happening in the vampire order. Some of the bloodthirsty creatures, led by the fiery Deacon Frost, want to become the world’s dominant species rather than living in secret. Who’s gonna stand against them? Well, that would be half-vampire and professional ass-kicker Blade! His mother was bitten by a vampire before he was born, therefore he has all of the vampires’ strengths but none of their weaknesses. Blade, portrayed by the formidable Wesley Snipes, is the daywalker. A vampire killer who goes out every night to hunt for wicked bloodsuckers with a whole arsenal of weapons. On his mission to prevent a vampire apocalypse, he is aided by the vengeful weapon-maker Whistler and blood-expert Karen who survived a vampire attack. Blade is certainly one of the coolest action-horrors of the nineties. The bloody special effects are kind of outdated, but due to Snipes’ perfect central performance, the stylish action and the comic book violence, this is still superb entertainment.

The Verdict – Fear Street Trilogy

The Fear Street Trilogy (consisting of Fear Street: 1994, Fear Street: 1978 and Fear Street: 1666) is Netflix’s most surprising release so far this summer. It revives a genre that has been dead for a while now: the slasher. The first scene, in which a girl is stalked in a shopping mall by a skull-face masked killer, reminds of Scream. But soon it diverges from this genre classic by going supernatural. You see, the town of Shadyside is cursed by the witch Sarah Frier, who was hanged in 1666, and is therefore now plagued by possessed killers who go on murder sprees. The bordering town of Sunnyside, on the other hand, is perfectly peaceful.

In the first part, teenage girls Deena and Sam, who are having a sexual affair to please the male audience, have to survive the next rampage and find a way to end the curse. In the second movie, a killing spree occurs during a summer camp in 1978 (yes, very much like the first Friday the 13th). In the third and final film, we first learn the history of Shadyside and Sunnyside through a transcendent experience by Deena. And then, after a major plot twist, it is up to her and her friends to end the terror once and for all. While the first part gets the lowest rating on IMDb, I liked it best, because it has the most old fashioned horror moments. But the whole trilogy, successfully directed by relative newcomer Leigh Janiak, is entertaining throughout. With genuine scares, excellent casting and plenty of brutal kills. This is how you do a slasher.

The Fear Street Trilogy is now available on Netflix

The verdict: to stream or not to stream? To stream.