Blu-ray Review: Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)

Scanners III BR CoverDistributor: Second Sight Films

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Christian Duguay

Starring: Liliana Komorowska, Valérie Valois, Steve Parrish, Peter Wright, Colin Fox

Despite being filmed back-to-back with Scanners II by the same director, Scanners III: The Takeover is a very different film from both of its predecessors and one that didn’t find favourable reviews upon its original release, but with over twenty years having gone by since that original release has it aged well or do those original criticisms still stand?

During a party a scanner named Alex Monet (Steve Parrish – Midnight) shows off his powers by using his mind to force his best friend to move across the floor but disaster strikes when he loses concentration and his friend falls to his death.

Alex goes to live in a monastery in Thailand to come to terms with what has happened. In the meantime, his sister Helena (Liliana Komorowska – The Art of War) is beginning to feel some side-effects from her scanner abilities. Her scientist father is working on a new drug to suppress these effects but hasn’t finished final testing when Helena takes it. The drug has a different effect on her as she loses all of her moral inhibitions and develops megalomaniacal tendencies, killing her father and taking over the family corporation. However, her change in personality begins to attract attention and very soon Alex is called back to find out what’s going on, finding himself locked in a battle of minds with his sister.

With no ties to either of the previous instalments, Scanners III: The Takeover goes off in its own direction both narratively and stylistically, with some almost slapstick humour peppered in amongst the odd camera angles and gurning kung-fu gangster scanners running around like some sort of demented Dick Tracy rip-off.

As with Scanners II the level of acting in this film is pretty poor but somehow it seems to fit the lighter tone and not be as painful as if the cast were playing it totally straight. Liliana Komorowska, despite being quite pleasing on the eye, is pretty terrible as Helena Monet, spending most of the film pulling faces and laughing whilst her accent changes more often than her hairstyle. However, Steve Parrish fares a little better as her tormented brother Alex, and whilst he spends most of the film looking glum and sorry for himself he does have some of the heroic presence that was lacking in the two previous films. As for the rest of the cast there’s nobody else that adds anything of any merit and, despite the confused nature of what should be a relatively straightforward plot, there is the feeling that nobody on-screen really knows what’s going on.

Although by now the novelty of the exploding head was wearing very thin – and the fact that the special effects in this film aren’t as good as either of the two previous films – there are a couple of neat twists, namely a head exploding underwater and another one going whilst inside a sports helmet. Another decent twist is the use of television to spread the scanner control to the masses; a fairly obvious concept when you think about it but it shows the makers were willing to expand on the possibilities of what could be done and had there been a proper fourth film (not the Scanner Cop spin-off) then who knows?

But despite the negatives there is something about Scanners III that makes it immensely watchable, even though technically it’s the poorest of the trilogy. Perhaps it is the lighter, more accessible tone or the fact that the story seems to roll along at a fairly lively pace that makes the obvious flaws more forgiveable, but if the filmmakers can get away with treating the material less seriously then we, as an audience, can do the same and maybe enjoy the film on the level that director Christian Duguay is obviously intending.

The disc itself comes with no special features and the transfer, whilst an improvement on any previous DVD releases, is the least impressive of the three films, with a slightly grainy picture and a tinny audio in places. More than likely due to the original material, it isn’t enough to distract from what is going on and it’s still the best version on the market.

So overall, Scanners III: The Takeover is a bit of an odd one. On the one hand it is Scanners-lite in nature, lacking the darker, grittier undertones of Cronenberg’s original and the slick special effects of Scanners II, but it does hit enough familiar beats to keep it all in the same universe and offer you a relatively easy watching experience that still gives you exploding heads and pulsating veins as well as some pace. It is the lesser of the three films and probably wouldn’t mean much to the casual viewer without having the other two films to back it up, but it is fairly inoffensive viewing, though whether that’s what you want from a Scanners film is a matter for your own conscience.

Scanners III

Special Features: None

UK Release Date: 8th April 2013

Second Sight Films – Website

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