Review Date: October 31, 2007
Released by: Anchor Bay UK
Release date: 07/18/2005
Region 0, PAL
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
was a slow, brooding classic of psychology personified through telekinesis. Its power comes from its somber, mindful malaise, so what surprise it was then when Christian Duguay’s Scanners II: The New Order
came running through the gates with non-stop action and a kinetic visual style. What an even bigger surprise though, was that it was actually really good, totally worthy of succeeding Cronenberg’s story. It may have been a mental downgrade, but it was a whole lot of fun. Duguay shot another Scanners
sequel back-to-back with The New Order
, Scanners III: The Takeover
. Does it live up to his first sequel, or is it brain dead?
The pre-credit scroll reminds us of that experimental drug administered to pregnant women in the sixties, Ephemeral, and how it caused mutated offspring with telekinetic powers, Scanners. It also tells us that, likely due to the progress achieved in the sequel, the previous drugs used to contain it were no longer viable. Dr. Elton Monet (Colin Fox
) has been researching the scanner mindset for years, and thinks he may have the new solution. He’s had to endure years of seeing his two adopted children, Alex (Steve Parrish
) and Helena (Liliana Komorowska
) suffer non-stop migraines due to their ailment. Alex’s brainpower even caused the death of his best friend who was unexpectedly thrown from a balcony window when a mind game went overboard. Dr. Monet has a possible cure, but with nobody to test it on, he’s at a dead end.
Alex is now in Thailand, trying to control his mental powers in a temple of religion(!). Helena is still around though, and volunteers to be her dad’s “scanner lab rat”. The drug is too new though, Monet warns, and asks her to wait. A middle of the night headache makes Helena desperate for a fix though, so she takes the EPH-3 (“eff three”) to almost immediate results. The lone side-effect she fails to notice, though, is that it turns her into a megalomaniac, causing her impulses for greed, sex and violence to reach catastrophic heights. Her first target is the doctor that physically abused her as a child, but upon splattering his brains on his bookshelf she realizes there’s an army of scanners fit for mobilization with this new drug. She plans for her takeover.
Helena plans to take over her father’s business, mass produce the drug, and get every scanner in the world under her mindful watch. She sets her sights even higher though, when she realizes she can control people’s minds through the cathode ray tube. During a bout of sex with a colleague, she makes her moans and elations expressed by participants on a talk show, as if we needed further proof that Oprah isn’t already controlled by some robot. Her takeover will commence during the next big football game, where she will utilize tropes from Halloween III
to make sure the world is at her disposal. Only her brother can stop her, and to steal the nonsensical tagline from Halloween H20
, blood is thicker than water.
Scanners III: The Takeover
goes into some really interesting directions. It suggests that the drug addiction and mental anguish prevalent in Scanners II
can scarily be regulated through the conforming artifice of the television. In a way, the scenes where Helena interfaces with her television and camcorder mark as a Cronenbergian hybrid of Scanners and Videodrome. They resonate with great power, suggesting that considering how conglomerated mass media has become, everything one sees can be controlled through outlets of display. Surprisingly, the scenes in Thailand work as a meditative yang to the television’s ying, suggesting that only through complete withdrawal from the hegemony of our media-fused society can someone truly understand the depths of the mind. The film goes in some interesting directions, no doubt, but the problem is, it goes in too many.
A clusterfuck of four different writers, it’s no surprise that Scanners III
feels like a film torn in numerous directions. It’s all over the map, literally, from America to Thailand, and figuratively, with an inconsistent tone and story. The film starts out like the sequel, dramatic and suspenseful, but slowly drifts into camp once Helena gets taken over. It becomes a sort of Terminator 3, where she seduces men, laughs hysterically and then utters some bad pun. Suddenly the series becomes comedic, and often not for the good. The story too derails, getting more robust and implausible to the point of implosion in the third act, when all of a sudden the football game begins and people are inexplicably watching home video recordings on every network. I’m sure each of the four scripts used for this film were good, but fused together there are plot holes and inconsistencies abound.
Duguay still directs with a great energy, but under such a schizophrenic plot, there’s much that gets lots in translation. A French-Canadian director with a foreigner’s style, the visuals look great, but some of the scenes play out with awkward execution. Since I brought the Halloween
franchise into my synopsis I may as well finish the association here. Scanners III
feels a lot like Halloween 5
. That film’s director, Dominique Othenin-Girard, whose name I always have to IMDb no matter how many times I type it, also gave his series a new injection of style, but many of his scenes felt mistranslated or just dramatically unsound. The keystone cops to honking circus music was what did a lot of people in during Halloween 5
, and here that blasted music returns, this time to another of Helena’s seduction scenes. Is it funny that she’s seducing her father? I don’t know, and I don’t think Duguay knows either, but he makes it look great.
has a lot of energy, more so even than The New Order, but the haphazard script removes much of the fun from the series. This third outing is definitely a step down in terms of the series, but still, fans of boobs, blood, gore and pigeons that explode will no doubt take to this third film over most other franchise thirds. A sequel was shoddily left open by that team of writers, but thankfully has not been acted upon. A remake of the first is now in the works, and without Cronenberg or even Duguay’s style, it’s probably best left at this satisfying trilogy.
If the quality of the film doesn’t compare to the previous films, at least this transfer does. Anchor Bay UK has done stand out jobs with their anamorphic Scanners transfers, and Scanners III
looks the best of the lot. It looks cleaner, the colors have a bit more punch (especially in that kaleidoscopic finale) and there’s again no artifacting that accompanies the visceral camera movement. The picture is sharp, showing all those contorted scanner faces in perfect detail. Your brain won’t have to work too hard to accept this transfer.
Like the previous films, this is in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The tracks are active and dynamic, with a decent amount of envelopment from the rears. There could be a bit more channel separation, but it still makes for an intense track. The New Order
had a more impressive sound mix in general, but still, the work done here will be welcomed by all.
The extras are virtually verbatim to the Scanners II: The New Order
disc, with an interview with film historian Alan Jones, trailers for all three films, biographies and film notes. This time, Alan Jones focuses (obviously) on the third film, and while it isn’t as interesting as his previous two pieces (in part because the film itself is less interesting), he still hits all the points one would expect to cover. He touches on how Liliana Komorowska would become Duguay’s wife, how filming would move to Thailand and a few other tidbits. He’s a fun listen, and the perfect alternative when a company cannot get anyone tied to the production back for interviews.
Scanners III: The Takeover
offers about three times the action of the first film, but unfortunately only a third of the brain. It’s a screenwriting mess, with some out of place comedy bits and a whole Thailand subplot. It’s a beautiful looking mess though, and above all it’s got style to make up for the script deficiency. Anchor Bay UK again provides solid image and sound, and a short but sweet featurette. While it’s tough to wholeheartedly recommend the film on its own, purchasing it in the trilogy boxset (available at Xploited Cinema
) is a definite no-brainer. Like Canada’s other flagship horror series, Prom Night
, this is another obscure series of films that put Hollywood horror sequels to shame.
Movie - B-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A-
Supplements - B-
- Running time - 1 hour and 35 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English DTS 5.1
- English stereo
- English closed captions
- "Inside Scan: The Takeover" interview with historian Alan Jones
- Theatrical trailers
- Film notes