Blu-ray Review “Scanners (Criterion Collection)”

Starring: Michael Ironside, Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Stephen Lack, Lawrence Dane
Director: David Cronenberg
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Run Time: 103 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

David Cronenberg has really affected up my taste in films over the years. I remembered the first time that I watched “Scanners”, I didn’t know anything about the director but I instantly fell in love.  That is one thing that I have always loved about Croneberg’s films is that they are rather timeless. “Scanners”,”Videodrome”, “The Fly”, “Naked Lunch”, eXistenz”. These are all films that are just as good as the very first time that I saw them.  They are extremely unique and cannot be duplicated. This film has never been released on high-def Blu-ray in the States (though we do already have “Scanners 2 & 3” on Blu-ray, thanks to Shout! Factory). Leave it to Criterion for giving an amazing film like this an even better release. This comes with a brand new, restored 2K digital film transfer, which was supervised by director David Cronenberg and includes an uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Official Premise: With Scanners, David Cronenberg plunges us into one of his most terrifying and thrilling sci-fi worlds. After a man with extraordinary—and frighteningly destructive—telepathic abilities is nabbed by agents from a mysterious rogue corporation, he discovers he is far from the only possessor of such strange powers, and that some of the other “scanners” have their minds set on world domination, while others are trying to stop them. A trademark Cronenberg combination of the visceral and the cerebral, this phenomenally gruesome and provocative film about the expanses and limits of the human brain was the Canadian director’s breakout hit in the United States.

Instead of telling you all the details, I will let the linear notes tell you the techy details: “Supervised by director David Cronenberg, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from a 35mm interpositive at Vision Globale in Montreal; the color grading was done at Deluxe Toronto. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise management. The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm Dialogue/Music/Effects magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 3.

So if you understand what all that technical specs mean, this film looks just amazing. If you disagree, you might catch me starring at you very intently…wait a second…and…BOOM! Unlike the Australian Blu-ray, which has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, this Blu-ray includes an LPCM 1.0 surround track, which is much more impressive. The score is just so outstanding, I would have loved to seen an isolated audio track. This director approved dual-format Blu-ray and DVD, also comes with an amazing illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Kim Newman. I look forward to Criterion releases so much because they really put a lot of effort into these releases and don’t settle for less than perfect. Plus take a look at this cover art, isn’t it just amazing and there is different version inside the case as well!!

Like always Criterion has delivered a jam-packed Blu-ray with amazing extras. “The Scanners Way” is a brand new documentary film and includes interviews with director of photography Mark Irwin, special makeup artists Stephan Dupuis and Chris Walas, special effects supervisor Gary Zeller, and visual effects specialist Rick Baker talking about the production. This was was produced exclusively for Criterion in 2014 by Michael Lennick, a Toronto-based documentarian and visual effects designer and supervisor (Videodrome). “Mental Saboteur” is a brand new video interview, actor Michael Ironside, who plays Darryl Revok, reflecting on his role. This was able produced by Criterion this year.

“The Ephemerol Diaries” is a video interview from 2012 with actor Stephen Lack, who plays Cameron Vale, discussing his work on the film. We get excerpts from the “The Bob McLean Show” from the March 10, 1981 episode with David Cronenberg. A real treat definitely has to be David Cronenberg first completed feature, “Stereo”, is included, which he did in 1969. It stars Ronald Mlodzik, Jack Messinger, and Iain Ewing and runs just over an hour. Lastly there is a trailer and three original radio spots included. If Criterion is reading this PLEASE give Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ”, the Blu-ray treatment next. It has only been given a rather poor Echo Bridge Blu-ray and needs some love.

Blu-ray Review: “Scanners II: The New Order / Scanners III: The Takeover – Double Feature”

Starring: Liliana Komorowska, David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Valérie Valois, Yvan Ponton, Steve Parrish
Director: Christian Duguay
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Run Time: 199 minutes

Scanners II: 3 out of 5 stars
Scanners III: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1/2 out of 5 stars

“Scanners” is one of my favorite horror flicks and one of the best films from David Cronenberg. The film was so unique, still holds up today and has spawned two sequels. “Scanners II” is a standalone from the 1981 film and has a different cast but still similar story. It has a hard act to follow-up but is a pretty decent film. The same can’t be said for “Scanners III”, which is not the greatest film but it still fun to watch (or at least it was when I was kid). Sort of reminds me a “Jaws 3-D”, terrible yet I still always watch it. This double feature is brought to us by Scream Factory, who is really coming to the aid of horror fans in need of obscure horror titles this year.

“Scanners II” Official Premise: Sequel to David Cronenberg’s 1981 feature, about a fringe group of humans who have developed telepathic powers. When a corrupt police commander (Yvan Ponton) decides to use the scanners to help take over the city, he convinces evil scientist Dr Morse (Tom Butler) to help him. Morse has plans to use a new mind-controlling drug on the telepaths, but has not reckoned with a rogue scanner who is determined to stop them.

“Scanners III” Official Premise: Second sequel to David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror, about a group of telepathic people, known as ‘scanners’, operating on the fringes of human society. Young Helena Monet (Liliana Komorowska) has exceptional telepathic abilities, but when she tries an experimental drug developed by her father she turns into a deranged killer, using her abilities to cut a murderous swathe to the top of her father’s pharmaceutical company. On her quest to dominate the world, Helena takes over a television station, and the only man who can stop her is her scanner brother Alex, recently returned from honing his skills in a Thai monastery.

Scream Factory delivered this double feature in a combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD of both films. “Scanners II & III” each located on one Blu-ray disc and one DVD. The transfers of these films are good but not out of this world. These films were never shot were not given a new touched up transfer for this release, so they both show their age a bit. Nonetheless, they both deliver what they need to in order to make the presentations worth checking out. They each come with a DTS-HD Master Audio track, which also work for what each film delivers. In terms of special features though there is no much hear except for Theatrical Trailers. But I am sure that some of you will just take “Scanners II” and consider “Scanners III” an optional bonus feature.