Scanners II: The New Order – Canada, 1991

Scanners II: The New Order is a 1991 Canadian science fiction horror feature film directed by Christian Duguay (Screamers; Scanners III: The Takeover) from a screenplay by B.J. Nelson, based on David Cronenberg’s Scanners characters. The Malofilm production stars David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Raoul Trujillo, and Yvan Ponton.

Plot:

David Kellum (David Hewlett), a young veterinarian intern, discovers that he has mental abilities to read and control minds of others. When he moves to the city to continue his studies, he finds difficulty in controlling himself: the congestion of many minds and the ability to hear voices overwhelm him.

During an armed robbery of a store David kills the gunman with his mind. Police Commander John Forrester watches the store’s security tape. He tells David that he knows what he is: a Scanner. And, there are others like him around the world. He enlists David’s help in tracking down elusive criminals…

Review:

Scanners II presents a neat twist on the original format, having the dysfunctional scanners being exploited by a right-wing police chief, who uses them to dish out vigilante justice. There are some nice touches dealing with the addictive nature of the drugs used to control the telepaths too, and some good gore set-pieces. The lead performances are passable – certainly no worse than Stephen Lack’s in the first film – and it’s likely that if you hadn’t seen David Cronenberg’s movie, you might well find this an impressively original movie.

As well as obviously aping the first film’s broad story, Scanners II also throws in another exploding head, taking a dramatic images from the original film and turning it into a thematic point – the implication being that you can’t have a Scanners film without an exploding head.

Obviously made with one eye on the prospect of further sequels, French director Christian Duguay – making his feature film debut -handles the material well, and although critics were generally dismissive, the target audience were generally happy with it in its video heyday, making a third instalment inevitable.

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“Some surprising familial links are made to the first film, but Scanners II plays things too safe. David has a girlfriend and loving parents. Raoul Trujillo plays Drak as more goofy than menacing. The plot flirts far too lightly with the alarming ethical issues of the Morse Neurological Research Institute deploying the EPH-2 drug to revert Scanners to a near comatose state.” Mat Bradley-Tschirgi, Battleship Pretension

“Hewlett is an affable enough type, he makes a good hero. His teaming up with Raffin as Vale works and ties into the original continuity of the first film in an appropriate enough manner. Ponton is fun as Forrester, watching him attempt to basically climb to power is enjoyable while Butler makes for a fine scientist. The movie is well shot, making good use of its Montreal locations…” Ian Jane, DVD Talk

“All the ideas of the original are translated into absurdly physical terms. The original’s head exploding trick was a show-capping novelty but here the effect is overused to the point of tedium – now heads explode every time scanners battle. The sequel is a film devoid of any intellectual content…” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Director Christian Duguay isn’t Cronenberg and in all fairness he doesn’t try to be either. He’s more of an action director and Scanners II moves at a pace more suited to something like The Hidden. The political machinations of Forrester are interesting to watch but the real fun is in the sequences like the opening in the video arcade.” Horace Cordier, Rock! Shock! Pop!

“The plot suggests a computer game called ‘RoboCop meets the Scanners’, while Duguay’s visual style consists entirely of pop promo clichés […] The cast is anonymous, the plot confused and sluggish; only Michael Smithson’s cheap, inventive special effects warrant attention.” Nigel Floyd, Time Out

” …there’s just no drive or urgency to the proceedings. There’s no fire in the flick’s belly. On top of that, it bogs way the f*ck down once Hewlett touches base with his sister. Oh, and if you take a shot of your favorite alcohol every time a character says “The New Order”, your head might explode.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • David Hewlett … David Kellum
  • Deborah Raffin … Julie Vale
  • Yvan Ponton … Commander John Forrester
  • Isabelle Meijias … Alice Leonardo
  • Raoul Trujillo … Peter Drak
  • Tom Butler … Doctor Morse
  • Vlasta Vrána … Lt. Guy Gelson
  • Dorothée Berryman … Mayor Lanzoni
  • Murray Westgate … George Keullum
  • Doris Petrie … Susan Kellum
  • Emily Eby … Reporter
  • Jason Cavalier … Convenience Store Thug

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