The Curator of Schlock #71 by Jeff Shuster
Now with More Asterisks!
It’s New Year’s Day and I’m trying to think of something significant to say about the movie Scanners. Actually, it’s technically the day after New Year’s day, if you want to get technical. I think it’s almost 2 A.M. and I have my official Criterion edition DVD of this classic film playing on my Plasma TV. I like the cover of the case. It kind of alludes to a guy’s head exploding, but it does so in an arty way by having the picture break off into these little blocks.
Friend of the Museum of Schlock, Dusty Mondy, had shown Scanners to a group of my Orlando writer friends and myself a few months back. One friend became transfixed with the idea that a man could hear the inner voices of everyone all at once. Another friend balked at the scene where that one guy’s head explodes. She exclaimed, “I don’t like heads exploding.”
I’ve covered exploding heads on this blog before and I’m sure I will again so in the meantime, I’m going to talk about the exploding head in Scanners. It’s wet. It’s messy. Brain and skull chunks fly all over the place. It’s the reason people went to see this movie. It’s the reason the trailer is all about the exploding head.
Michael Ironside makes the guy’s head explode. Michael Ironside is a scary man.
I’ve had many friends refer to him as Michael Ironsides, no doubt alluding to the idea that they’re several sides to his personality. I’m sure there are: cruel, angry, and super-angry.
Michael Ironside played the bad guy in Highlander II: The Quickening and voiced Darkseid on Superman: The Animated Series. He’s the actor you hire to play evil characters and/or Sam Fisher.
I got excited when I learned that Patrick Macnee starred in Scanners. He played John Steed on TV’s The Avengers (not to be confused with Marvel’s The Avengers, which I also like due to fact it includes Hulk, Thor, and the gang). I was a little distressed to discover that Patrick Macnee was nowhere to be found in Scanners only to later realize that he was never in the movie to begin with. I had confused Patrick Macnee with Patrick McGoohan. Silly me! I didn’t recognize him with the beard!
David Cronenberg directed Scanners. He’s a bit of an odd duck if you don’t mind my saying. He directed Videodrome. That’s the one where James Woods rips a flesh gun out of his stomach. He also directed Naked Lunch.
I seem to remember quite a few prosthetic penises in that movie, and there goes the general audience rating for this blog! Nothing so weird in Scanners, but we do get a scene where the hero merges with a computer and blows up a gas station with his mind.
Scanners is about people with telepathic abilities or telekinetic abilities or something to that effect. They scan peoples nervous systems or some such nonsense. I never get why audiences identify with characters that are better than they are like mutants or vampires. It’s usually the mutants and vampires that are ready to enslave or kill off the regular folk of the world. Maybe audiences believe that deep down they’d rather be a mutant, vampire, or scanner. No 9 to 5 job and you get to explode as many heads as you want. What more could you ask for?
Five Things I Learned from Scanners
- If you eat leftover food other people leave behind at a mall food court, some people will think you’re disgusting.
- Art is the cure for scanning fatigue.
- Computers are weak.
- So are gas stations.
- It took longer for Canada to leave the 1970s behind.
Photo by Leslie Salas
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.