****No Plot Spoilers****
Ever since watching Brian De Palma's "Carrie" (Carrie) and "The Fury" (The Fury), I've been obsessed with telekinesis. The Scanners franchise also fulfilled my desire to watch people move objects with their thoughts. The original "Scanners" (Scanners) was directed by David Cronenberg who became famous for his controversial science fiction horror films starring controversial actors [e.g., "The Brood" (The Brood), with brawler hunk Oliver Reed, and "Rabid" (Rabid) with former porn star Marilyn Chambers]. "Scanners" focuses on an emotionally disturbed, homeless scanner, Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) who meets an art gallery assistant, Kim Obrist (supermodel Jennifer O'Neill) who is also a scanner. Together, they attempt to locate an evil scanner, Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), who wants the scanners to rule the world. During their quest, they discover the dark secret concerning the origin of scanners. Note: Scanners not only have the ability to move objects with their thoughts, but they can also read (i.e., scan) and manipulate other people's thoughts. However, many become insane because of sensory overload.
Having owned "Scanners" on DVD for years, I was naturally thrilled to learn that Shout Factory had released its first two sequels as a Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack. I saw them on VHS too many years ago in muted, full-frame formats. Thanks to Shout Factory, each film has been presented correctly in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1. All colors are bright, clear and crisp and the audio is great (DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo for Blu-Ray; Dolby Digital Stereo for DVD). Each film appears as though it has been recently released at the theatre. There are no vertical lines or dark splotches. I played the DVD version on my Blu-Ray player and couldn't tell a significant difference from the Blu-Ray. The remastering for both the Blu-Ray and the DVD has been excellent. I`ll be able to loan the DVD to my girlfriend, Tammy, who doesn't own a Blu-Ray player. A horror buff like me, she's going to kill me with her evil thoughts when she learns I watched these films without her.
Both Scanners II and III were directed by Christian Duguay. Like "Scanners," they boast gorgeous casts, contain themes of good versus evil and were filmed in and around the cold, gray environs of Montreal and Quebec, Canada. In "Scanners II: The New Order," a veterinarian student, David Kellum (David Hewitt) is a scanner on the run who finds another scanner, Julie Vale (Deborah Raffin); together they try to destroy the corrupt Commander John Forrester (Yvan Potton) who is using scanners to kill anyone who stands in his way of becoming mayor. Similar in plot to the original "Scanners," it has, however, some shocking twists. Also, it has considerably more gore and violence than the original. This one was more emotionally disturbing to me because it deals more with violence perpetrated against family members.
In "Scanners III: The Takeover," a Christmas tragedy causes a scanner, Alex Monet (Steve Parrish), to become a monk in Thailand. Meanwhile, his sister, Helena (Liliana Komorowska), also a scanner, is suffering from severe migraine. She uses her father's experimental drug and becomes insanely diabolical. She then commandeers her father's pharmaceutical company to take over the world. As in the previous film, there is a tremendous amount of violence and gore. Again, there is familial violence; this time, it is even sadder when relatives attempt to kill one another. Note: I loved the unforgettable character of Helena. She is extremely diabolical, beautiful and sensual. Komorowska played her perfectly.
There are two discs in this Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. One disc contains both films on DVD and the other disc contains both films on Blu-Ray. Unfortunately, the combo pack doesn't have any extras. There are no subtitles, no audio commentaries, no theatrical trailers, no deleted scenes, no "making off featurettes," and, worst of all, no scene selections. The menu gives you a choice of which Scanners movie to watch and that is all. Unbelievable! If not for the widescreen presentations, stereo audio and remastering, I would have thought that these two films had been released by Mill Creek, which churns out films on Blu-Ray and DVD at a high rate, regardless of quality. Because of its blatant lack of extras, I cannot give this Scanners II and III Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack the highest rating.
If you are a fan of horror films, especially the ones involving telekinesis, then I recommend this Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. However, I wish Shout Factory had either included a digital copy or just decreased the price and given us the choice of buying the Blu-Ray or the DVD, not both. I also wish that Shout Factory or another company would properly release "Scanner Cop" and "Scanner Cop 2: Volkin's Revenge" on Blu-Ray. Both films star Daniel Quinn as Detective Samuel Staziak who hunts down rogue scanners. The original "Scanners," released by MGM and out of print at the time of this review, also deserves the Blu-Ray treatment. Many fans are hoping it will be re-released by the Criterion Collection. My MGM release of "Scanners" only has a theatrical trailer and subtitles for extras. A commentary from David Cronenberg would be nice.
Joseph B. Hoyos