Darryl Revok is the most powerful of all the scanners, and is the head of the underground scanner movement for world domination. Scanners have great psychic power, strong enough to control minds; they can inflict enormous pain/damage on their victims. Doctor Paul Ruth finds a scanner that Revok hasn’t, and converts him to their cause – to destroy the underground movement.
Scanners is a 1981 Canadian science-fiction horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jennifer O’Neill, Steven Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan. In the film, “scanners” are people with unusual telepathic and telekinetic powers. ConSec, a purveyor of weaponry and security systems, searches out scanners to use them for its own purposes. The film’s plot concerns the attempt by Darryl Revok, a renegade scanner, to wage a war against ConSec. Another scanner, Cameron Vale, is dispatched by ConSec to stop Revok.
About the Story
Private security firm ConSec plans to showcase a powerful new potential weapon: “scanners”, people with exceptional powers of telepathy such as mind reading, mind-control, and telekinesis. However, when ConSec’s scanner attempts to demonstrate his scanning power by reading the mind of a volunteer from the invited audience, the volunteer turns out to be a more powerful scanner, who scans back and causes the ConSec scanner’s head to explode. ConSec officials attempt to take the “volunteer” into custody; however, he uses his powers to kill the men guarding him, and escapes.
Stung by this embarrassing experience, ConSec security head Braedon Keller (Lawrence Dane) advocates shutting down ConSec’s scanner research program. Program head Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) disagrees. He notes that the assassination and escape have shown the potential of the weapon they had sought to demonstrate. Ruth attributes the operation to an evil scanner named Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) who, Ruth says, has his own underground network of scanners competing with ConSec’s program. He argues that ConSec should recruit scanners to their cause to infiltrate and bring down Revok’s group.
To this point, scanner Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) has lived an unhappy life as a homeless social outcast, driven mad by the unceasing stream of other people’s thoughts bombarding his mind. After bringing Vale into ConSec, Dr. Ruth injects him with a drug called ephemerol, which temporarily inhibits his scanning ability and restores his sanity. When Vale’s mind is clear, Ruth asks for his help, explaining that Vale is a scanner and that Revok is killing all scanners who refuse to join him, and that Revok will kill Vale if Vale does not learn how to protect himself. Under Ruth’s guidance, Vale learns to control his scanning abilities.
Unknown to Dr. Ruth, ConSec’s security head, Keller, works for Revok as a spy. Revok learns of Ruth’s infiltration plan, and dispatches assassins to follow Vale as he begins his search for Revok by visiting a so-far-unaffiliated scanner named Benjamin Pierce (Robert Silverman), who may know Revok’s whereabouts. Revok’s hired assassins follow Vale to Pierce’s home and brutally shoot Pierce to death. Enraged, Vale uses his telepathic power to kill the assassins. As Pierce dies, Vale reads from his mind a name—Kim Obrist (Jennifer O’Neil). Vale tracks down Obrist, who has formed a telepathic alliance with a group of other scanners in opposition to Revok’s group.
Vale attends a meeting, but assassins working for Revok follow him and strike again, and only Vale and Obrist manage to escape alive. Scanning an assassin, Vale learns of a drug company, which he then infiltrates. He finds that large quantities of ephemerol are being distributed under a computer program called “Ripe”, run by Revok himself through ConSec. Vale and Obrist return to ConSec, where Ruth suggests Vale scan the computer system to learn more about the Ripe program. Meanwhile, Keller tries to kill Obrist, but she escapes. Keller kills Dr. Ruth while Vale and Obrist flee the ConSec building.
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside, Larry Perkins, Mavor Moore
Screenplay by: David Cronenberg
Cinematography by: Mark Irwin
Film Editing by: Ronald Sanders
Costume Design by: Delphine White
Art Direction by: Carol Spier
Music by: Howard Shore
Distributed by: Avco-Embassy Pictures
Release Date: January 14, 1981