Monday, June 18, 2018
RECENT WATCHES: Scanners II: The New Order (1991)
Scanners II: The New Order,” would project itself onto video store shelves in 1991. Obviously, the follow-up was successful enough to warrant further adventures. But the question has to be asked: Is it a worthy successor to Cronenberg's original?
Many years after the events of the first film, rumors of scanners continues to persist around the world. Police Commander John Forrester has been collecting scanners, getting them addicted to a drug called Eph2 to control them, in hopes of using them to take over the local government. Enter, David Kellum. A veterinarian student, he displays powerful scanner abilities when he protects his girlfriend from thugs during an armed robbery. Recruited by Forrester, Kellum soon discovers the plot to use his kind to instill a new order. He also discovers that he's the son of Cameron Vale, the original film's protagonist.
While “Scanners II” does not engage much with the psychic potential of the scanners, it does feature some exploding heads. The attempted robbery ends when David makes a fountain of blood gush from the bad guy's skull. Later, after taking over an unimportant character's mind, Drak and David get into a scanners duel. This concludes with the proxy's head pulsating and then exploding in a rather spectacular manner. The movie tries out other types of body horror. The addicted scanners develop weeping sores all over their skins. When a normal person is injected with the same drug, their eyes weep amber fluid. David uses his powers to brutally deform the film's human villain, his face sagging and mutating. Drak gets sucked dry, reduced to a meaty skeleton, by a crowd of scanners. This stuff is the highlight of the film, as the make-up effects are decent
The cast in the film is not very inspiring either. The film was an early starring role for David Hewlett, who went on to a solid career including appearances in nerd favorites like “Stargate: Atlantis” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Hewlett's performance is serviceable but uninspiring. When attempting to play up the awe factor of his scanning powers, he too often stares ahead blankly. Yvan Ponton never attempts to disguise Commander Forrester's villainy, making the character's evil nature easy to guess. Mostly, I want to talk about Raoul Trujillo as Drak, the head evil scanner. Where the hell did they dig up this guy? Trujillo mugs wildly in the part, alternating between melodramatic whispers and overplayed screams. It's a deeply silly and cartoonish performance, a miscalculated attempt to emulate Michael Ironside's villainous performance in the first “Scanners.”