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Scanners II The New Order (Arrow Recommends)

Scanners II The New Order (Arrow Recommends)
02.24.2018by: The Arrow
7 10

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: A naive Scanner (David Hewlett) becomes a puppet for a corrupt cop (Yvan Ponton) with grand "control the world" ambitions. But when our hero finds out that he’s being played like an non-lubed fiddle – he decides to use his deadly mind powers to clean house. Heads will blow the F up!

"Power doesn't make you good Dave. It just makes you powerful. And it makes me hungry. I'm gonna suck you dry, pretty boy!" – Drak

LOWDOWN: Michael Ironside killing it and that awesome exploding head gore-gag aside, I’ve never been a fan of David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981). Yup, in the minority again! And trust me I've tried to dig it over many watches over the years – but the end game has always been the same for me. I find it flat, cold and boring. But hey that’s just me, the f*ck I know! Scanners did wind up spawning a handful of offspring. Namely: Scanners II: The New Order (1991), Scanners III: The Takeover (1992) and the spin-offs Scanner Cop (1994) and Scanner Cop II (1995).

Now I never tapped the Scanners Cop movies – they looked like ass on a stick to me. And Scanners III failed to leave an impression on me outside of cool gore and shoddy acting. Scanners II on the other hand (get it on Blu-Ray here) left a dent in my horror loving heart when I first saw it and clocking it again today – I was glad to see that it still held up. Stylishly directed by Canadian Christian Duguay (who has a handful of gems under his belt like the 1997 must-see The Assignment), Scanner II took the themes and mythology of the first film and slyly expanded on them (loved the new powers). Better yet; it took a more action-oriented approach to the material, which greased my personal cinematic affinities right. I mean what’s the point of having folks being able to f*ck people up with their minds if you don’t go the wam-bam way with it? Exactly.

Although the screenplay by B.J. Nelson (of Lone Wolf McQuade fame), put forth an engaging story-line (that almost played out like a political thriller) and it hit all the right notes (for the most part - more on that later), at the end of the blown-up melon it was Duguay’s exciting visual style and the ample use of practical effects that made this sequel one to remember. Duguay was on fire here in his feature length directorial debut, milking his low budget for all it was worth while gunning out inventive camera angles, kinetic shots, potent atmosphere (that came off like an 80’s music video at times) and an impact-charged use of slow motion. The man truly shined when the action kicked in. He went bucks with it and I loved him for it!

The bang-on practical effects created by Shadoworks Inc were on the money as well. I winced like a castrated poodle a couple times at some of the gruesome sights curved-ball my way. The “back of man's cranium exploding” gag in particular hit me hard. And that wasn't all! I was treated to distorted heads, veins bulging out, a dude having his insides sucked dry, folks being mind thrown through and into shit (solid stunt work in this flick btw) and you bet your sweet ass they reproduced the exploding head bit from the original Scanners. It was a full red-grub meal! Them were the good old days, when C, G or I weren’t even in our vocabulary yet.

What about the cast you may ask? Well, the camera loved David Hewlett (who went on to do the beautifully weird horror film PIN) and he gave it his all as our hero in peril. The lad was well supported by the lovely Deborah Raffin and the “playing a baddie and obviously loving it” Yvan Ponton. The main players were all convincing enough and I cared about their fate i.e mission accomplished. Add to all that jive; Marty Simon's sombre/aggressive score which punched up the imagery with oomph, a brilliant sound design (loved the sound they used when peeps were scanning) and a quick enough pace and you get a fun B-Movie that succeeded in doing the one thing the original failed to do for me: TRULY ENTERTAIN ME.

On the dull side of the blade; the slap-dash love story was pathetic in its execution (they meet, 5 seconds later they kiss, 10 seconds later they’re in ENDLESS and TRUE love…please...) and the flick forced out one plot turn (having to do with the hero’s family) that didn’t make a lick of sense when taking into account the bad guys goal.

Moreover Isabelle Mejias was wasted in a vapidly written lead role that gave her little to do but stand around and look hot (she did do that very wel though) and Raoul Max Trujillo was way too hammy as the heavy Drack. Sometimes less is not only more but it’s also more threatening – this dude chewed the scenery so much that he became a cartoon character. I guess he was going for the The Kurgan Award, but hey, there can be only one (yeah Highlander reference)! Finally I was taken out of the film for a second when BAM out of nowhere at the halfway mark it became a winter movie. WTF? When did that happen? That's one swift weather change! Not a biggie but I noticed, hence the vomiting.

All in all Scanners 2 (which was shot in my home town of Montreal, Canada - so that was a plus for me) was one of them sequels that took the seeds planted by the original and made them grow and sprout in new directions (Poetic enough for ya?), bettering its source material in the process. It’s too bad the follow-up Scanners III: The Takeover (also directed by Duguay) was limper than me after a bottle of Jack cause they had set up a promising universe with Part 2. It could have gone somewhere pretty damn cool. Oh well. In closing, if you dig on old-school, Ketchup heavy, nuts and bolts B horror, I recommend you get a beer (s) and a bag of chips, give Scanners II a whirl and call it a night well spent!



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