After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.
The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact.
A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
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. Written by
Paul Reynolds <email@example.com>
This was the nearest thing to a conventional science fiction thriller David Cronenberg had made up to that point, lacking the sexual content of Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), or The Brood (1979). It was also his most profitable film until The Fly (1986) six years later. See more »
Dieter Tautz cries out during Cameron's scanning of him, but his lips don't move. See more »
Could have been stronger in several key areas but is still worth seeing
Within "normal" society exists a new breed of person who possess telepathic powers. They are small in number but their powers makes them very dangerous but also very powerful in the hands of the right people. Dr Paul Ruth runs a secretive programme trying to develop the power into a weapon but he only has one recruit Cameron Vale. When Ruth's programme is violently attacked by scanner Darryl Revok, they realise that the battle is being lost and they prepare Vale to go undercover, in filtrate Revok's group and lead them to him.
As everyone and their dog knows, this film is always talked about for the infamous scene near the start where we are first shown the power of the scanners, however there are many scenes across the whole film that are just as strong as that one. The opening scene is powerful as it shows the ability Vale has and the lack of control he has over it while the scene where Revok escapes capture is even more sinister and gripping. This pretty much carries across the whole film although there are some slows spots and parts of the story that don't hang together as well as they should. Cronenberg is famous for his body horror but he does do tension well and here he is solid when called upon. The low budget does show through at times but mostly it is good.
The acting is a little bit ropey though, which is maybe where the limitations do show through. Lack is OK but he isn't anything special he can say his lines well enough and not fall over while walking but he can't bring out much more below the surface than that. He reminded me of the old b-movie matinée stars who have good jaws but not much else. McGoohan is better and his presence is welcome in his scenes. Ironside is hammy but enjoyable perhaps not having as much screen time as I would have liked but effective when he is. The support is mostly pretty average, O'Neill is OK but the rest are so-so and are sometime amusing as they get scanned.
Overall though this is a classic cult film. The plot moves forward well enough although I would have liked more real life commentary from Cronenberg above the general "mental illness" metaphor that it acts as but his direction otherwise is good. The cast are mostly only OK but they do enough to keep the story moving while moments of horror and tension are well served up. Could have been better in several key areas but is still worth seeing.
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