Blu-Ray Review: Scanners II: The New Order / Scanners III: The Takeover (Collector’s Edition)
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Scanners II: The New Order
Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Director: Christian Duguay
Screenwriter: B.J. Nelson
Cast: David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Yvan Ponton, Isabelle Mejias, Raoul Trujillo, Tom Butler, Dorothée Berryman
Scream Factory
Rated R | 104 Minutes
Release Date: September 10, 2013

Directed by Christian Duguay (Screamers), Scanners II: The New Order is a direct-to-video sequel to David Cronenberg’s 1981 film, Scanners.

Written by B.J. Nelson (Lone Wolf McQuade), the story involves a crooked politician (Yvan Ponton) who schemes to gain control of a major city by manipulating Scanners (persons born with telepathic and telekinetic abilities) to do his bidding.

David Hewlett stars as David Kellum, a young veterinarian intern who discovers he is a Scanner, meaning he can read and control the minds of others and, if need be, make their heads explode. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure why this movie exists – or what it’s even about – it just seems like the filmmakers focused on the amazing practical effects on display in Cronenberg’s film and decided to ratchet up the pulsating craniums and head explosions.

David and his girlfriend Alice (Isabelle Mejias) are in a convenience store when a couple of thugs try to rob the place. David, being a weakly veterinarian intern, is little threat to the gunmen, until they grab up Alice as a hostage. In his twelve shirts and sweaters (seriously, this guy is a fan of layers), David goes into full Scanner mode and attacks the thugs. We are treated to an epic head explosion similar to a volcanic eruption, with blood and meaty chunks of brain matter blasting forth into the air – it’s quite spectacular.

Police Commander John Forrester (Ponton) watches the store’s security tape and enlists David to work for him, tracking down bad guys and stuff. After capturing of a creeper who put strychnine in milk cartons and poisoned children, David is introduced to another Scanner named Peter Drak (Raoul Trujillo). Let’s use an X-Men metaphor: if David is Iceman, then Drak is Pyro – an aggressive Scanner who’s super enthusiastic about his powers to do harm to others.

Eventually David finds out that he’s working for the wrong guy and goes rogue. He discovers he has a sister (Deborah Raffin) and that he was adopted. His real father was a man named Cameron Vale – a reference to Stephen Lack’s character in Cronenberg’s original film.

Overall, Scanners II: The New Order isn’t an awful film – it’s just unnecessary. Of course, we’re talking about the late ’80s and early ’90s, when direct-to-video sequels, spin-offs, and knock-offs were a cheap, profitable enterprise. Still, Scanners II is pretty decent video cheese, with some respectable practical effects and one gorgeous slow-motion head explosion.

Scanners III: The Takeover
Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Director: Christian Duguay
Screenwriter: B.J. Nelson
Cast: Liliana Komorowska, Valérie Valois, Steve Parrish, Colin Fox
Scream Factory
Rated R | 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 10, 2013

1992’s Scanners III: The Takeover, also known as Scanner Force, is also directed by Christian Duguay and written by B.J. Nelson.

Another direct-to-video release, Scanners III has little to do with the previous Scanners films – except for the requisite use of telepathy and telekinesis for head explosion purposes, of course.

Scanners III is a movie which opens with a drunk guy in a Santa Claus costume being mind-tossed off of a high-rise. It might not be be the best Scanners movie, but it’s certainly the most entertaining one.

The plot follows Helena Monet (Liliana Komorowska), a Scanner who takes an experimental drug called Eph-3 (developed by her adoptive father) to limit the painful side effects of her psychic abilities. She is transformed from a mild-mannered young woman into a venomous megalomaniac, hell-bent on controlling the world.

Helena kicks things off by making a few heads explode and mind-murdering her father. After taking control of his pharmaceutical company, Helena orders the mass production of Eph-3 to raise an army of psychopathic scanners. Her long-lost adopted brother, Alex (Steve Parrish), is alerted to his sister’s Dark Phoenix turn and returns to stop her.

As her rise to power and desire for global dominance gains momentum, Alex must mind-fight the attackers sent after him and ultimately defeat his sister to save the world. Scanners III: The Takeover is really the first film in the series to forgo the government conspiracy and paranoia angle and embrace the inherent shlock value of the central conceit: there are people out there that can make your head explode.

Believe it or not, after three movies dedicated to gorgeous, slow-motion head explosions, you get a little desensitized to the site of geysers of blood and chunks of brain matter and bits of skull shooting all over the screen. Scanners III is an unintentionally funny, entertaining direct-to-video curiosity filled with creative kills and bad, soap opera level acting.

There are rumors that the Criterion Collection will be releasing David Cronenberg’s 1981 on DVD and Blu-ray soon, so it’s only fitting that the Criterion of B-Movies is releasing its sequels. Scream Factory’s Scanners II: The New Order / Scanners III: The Takeover two-pack is worth picking up if you have a certain nostalgia for direct-to-video VHS cheese.

Scream Factory has the uncanny ability to take bad movies and make them worth purchasing. Maybe, just maybe, Scream Factory is controlled by a cabal of Scanners who are slowly conquering the home entertainment market one forgotten B-movie at a time.

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