Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Scanners 2 (1991)

About a year ago we saw David Cronenberg speak on two consecutive nights at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. They played Videodrome, They Came from Within, The Brood, and Dead Ringers. Actually I think they played every single one of Cronenberg's movies, we just couldn't make it to every screening. (Read: We could not afford to buy that many tickets...) Anyway, the subject of the Scanners' sequels came up and Cronenberg mentioned that he had nothing to do with any of them. What's more, he had not even watched any of them. Well I don't know about Scanners 3 and those Scanner Cop movies, I haven't seen them either, but as for Scanners 2, he's missing out on a fun movie.

The movie begins with a bad Scanner taking out a video arcade. Before everything is blown to bits he plays some 'Operation Wolf', operating the machine gun with his mind. I remember when I first saw that game at the local bowling alley, I thought it was the sickest, most realistic, shit I'd ever see. Well more than a decade later it looks very, very primitive. More advanced than 8-bit Nintendo, but very primitive. Don't get the wrong idea, my favorite games are from that time period. I recently got hooked on this one game, 'Total Carnage', a 'Smash TV' sequel that you can get for X-Box on a disc with a bunch of other Midway arcade classics. I'm also a big fan of the first generation of NES games, the ones before 'Zelda', 'Kid Icarus', and 'Metroid'. Mainly I'm talking about the games on that famous Nintendo poster with Rob's (Robotic Operating Buddy) head at the bottom. I believe that these simple cartridges are problem solvers, aimed at adults. 'Donkey Kong Jr. Math' must be for the kids though. No grown-ups would pick that one for themselves.

Back to Scanners 2 - In the next scene, the Scanner is hiding in warehouse full of mannequins. I was worried that he'd blow up a plastic head by scanning it. Fortunately, he did not. The movie does not make a lot of bad decisions. Only the dialogue is weak. Check out this bit I wrote down. "Ever since I was a little kid I've been able to do things..." the good Scanner tells us while a sad saxophone plays on the soundtrack. "Things with my mind." I hope I got that quote right. If I didn't, I was close. My point is, that this movie explains itself to the viewers, while Cronenberg's Scanners was challenging and could require multiple viewings to be fully understood.

The make-up in Scanners 2 is first rate as are the head explosions. It's no less violent than the first movie. I'm glad this sequel was made. However, if a remake of the original Scanners is in the works, one made without Cronenberg's consent, I'm not down for it.

One last story. We brought a Videodrome beta tape and a Dead Ringers Belgian mini-poster to the Cronenberg event for signing. Overzealous security prevented my roommate from getting the job done. We are all still bitter about what went down. I have no doubt that Larry would have gotten Cronenberg's signature tattooed-over on his leg, had he got that body part signed. Larry has Paul Verhoeven's signature tattooed on one of his legs, from an appearance at the Egyptian.


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