Blu-ray Review: Scanners II: The New Order& Scanners III: The Takeover

David Cronenberg’s Scanners was a cult horror hit back in 1981. The iconic director created people who were altered because their pregnant mothers took an experimental drug. While the drug may have helped the mothers, it turned the offspring into genetic mutants. They gained psychic powers that allowed them to read minds and inflict their will on others. If things got extra intense, they can blow up heads with their mindwaves. The sight of a guy’s head exploding made Scanners a major video hit in world of VHS and beta. While most horror films would immediately start cranking out the sequels, Cronenberg was too busy making Videodrome, The Dead Zone and The Fly. Nearly a decade later at the height of home video sales, producer Pierre David was able to bring forth a new generation of scanners which allowed kids to pick up two more tapes full of head blowing action. Scanner II: The New Order & Scanners III: The Takeover bring follow ups to Blu-ray so you can see heads explode in high definition.

Scanners II: The New Order (1991 – 100 minutes) is not a direct sequel to Cronenberg’s original. You don’t have to know a thing about the original except that heads will be exploding. There are no carryover characters. David Kellum (Stargate‘s David Hewlett) arrives in the big city to continue his vet studies. But he becomes a victim of crime when an armed robber pulls a stick up at a convenience store. He subdues the criminal with his mental powers and then blows up his head. The police chief checks out the security cam footage and is amazed at David’s talent. There is no real law about blowing up a guy’s head by intense thought. David isn’t that unusual since the police chief already has Peter Drak (Raoul Trujillo) on the payroll. Drak has an anger issue and is hooked on Eph2. This seems to be the only stuff that can calm a scanner’s mind. The good news is that David begins to understand why he has this strange mental power. The police chief uses David to fight crime including tracking down a killer tainting milk. But the chief has bigger plans for his new pal. He wants the scanner to take control of the mayor. David really doesn’t like the idea. This doesn’t make his new friends happy. If he’s not going to be a part of the team, he’s now considered an outlaw that needs to be eliminated. There’s a scanner throwdown which means heads will be popping. Ultimately David gets ied into Cronenberg’s film.

Scanners III: The Takeover (1992 – 95 minutes) doesn’t require you to watch Scanners II. It’s a new batch of scanners. Helena Monet (Liliana Komorowska) is a nice enough woman, but her scanner ability is driving her nuts. She needs help. Her father’s pharmacy company have come with a revolutionary drug call Eph3 that’s supposed to calm her down without making her a junky like Eph2. Instead of making her more sedate, the drug turns Helena into a little monster. She no longer wants inner peace. She wants a piece of her father’s company. The new pill allows her to not care what she does with her power as long as she wins. This turns into a bloody mess during her power play. Can anyone stop her? Humanity’s only hope lies in her brother who was adopted by a different family. Can he really face off with a sister who won’t be moved by a family reunion?

Producer Pierre David knew what he was doing when he brought back the Scanners at the start of the ’90s. Both films went straight to VHS and skipped the cineplex. The big screen was not the intended target of the low budget revamps. Video stores were eager to pile up sequels on the shelves knowing eager customers would rent them all. Why not have a shelf dedicated to the Scanner genre? David would also pump out two Scanner Cop movies. Director Christian Duguay was more competent than cultish in his approach to the films. Both of the movies resemble the ambiance of Canadian action shows that aired in late night slots around this time. Duguay understood that the real point of these films was to deliver on the head exploding action and not trying to outdo the freaky Cronenberg. Combing Scanners II: The New Order & Scanners III: The Takeover on a double feature Blu-ray release is smart since neither of them ranks up their with Cronenberg’s original take on the movie. True cinema fans will love twice the head blowing action on one disc.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution lets you really enjoy that late ’80s-early ’90s style that could be found in the Great White North. Be prepared to see thugs that love their haircare products. The extra detail does make the head exploding moments almost blast through the screen. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. The mix is fine. They didn’t go too overboard in the sound design of brain eruptions.

The only extra per se is a DVD that features both of the films.

Scanners II: The New Order & Scanners III: The Takeover is a double feature that will blow characters’ minds. The films aren’t quite sequels of the original so you can enjoy them without watching the original first. This is choice straight to video straight from Canada action.

Scream Factory presents Scanner II: The New Order & Scanners III: The Takeover. Directed by: Christian Duguay. Starring: David Hewlett, Liliana Komorowska and Raoul Trujillo. Boxset contents: 2 Movies on 1 Blu-ray Disc. Released: September 10, 2013.

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