'Lost in the Multiplex's' very own Lord of the Flea-pit, Julian White writes on film and horror for various sites and magazines, as well as blogging about cult movies. He plans to publish a long horror novel called 'The Diviners' just as soon as the strange voice coming from the filing cabinet stops dictating revisions. He currently lives in the 1980s.
Website URL: http://diabolicalcinema.blogspot.com
The second of Christian Duguay's Scanners sequels concerns brother and sister Alex (Steve Parrish) and Helena (Liliana Komorowska), two scanner orphans who have been adopted by the head honcho of a pharmaceutical company. After accidentally hurling his best friend over a penthouse balcony, Alex goes to a monastery in Thailand to learn to master his powers using the “long breath method”. Helena, meanwhile, is tortured by crippling headaches, and, desperate for relief, helps herself to a prototype skin patch, EPH-3, devised by her father. It works, but induces a radical personality change in the hitherto mild-mannered girl.
1991 saw the release of two belated direct-to-video sequels to David Cronenberg's Scanners, both helmed by the little-known Canadian director Christian Duguay. The first of these, Scanners II: The New Order, takes place some twenty years after the events of the first film. Country boy David (David Hewlett) moves to the city to attend veterinary college, only for the noisy and vibrant surroundings to trigger a disturbing upwelling of power within him. He, it transpires, is that rare thing, a functioning scanner – rare because most of his kind are either crazy (driven mad by their condition) or “dying drug addicts”, hooked on a narcotic called EPH-2.
Scanners (1981) is the penultimate movie of Cronenberg's glorious first period, which saw him working from his own highly original scripts and delivering a chilly, futuristic vision which owed more to the novels of J.G. Ballard than to any other filmmaker. Its protagonist is Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack), a half-crazed down and out who is recruited by Dr Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) after mind-zapping a woman in a shopping mall. Ruth, a “psycho-pharmacist,” reveals that Vale is a “scanner”, a person with telekinetic abilities. There are others like him – indeed, Ruth has been running a research project into that very topic. Unfortunately, his test subjects are being systematically murdered by Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), the leader of the “scanner underground.” Ruth (after first treating his new protégé with Ephemerol, a drug that “controls the flow of telepathy”, and getting him to hone his psychic skills against a yoga master) wants Vale to infiltrate the underground and stop Revok's “insane crusade.”
Claude Chabrol's second feature is a kind of mirror image of his first. In Le Beau Serge, a city boy goes to the countryside and soon finds himself out of his depth among the long-brewing passions of village life. In Les Cousins (1959), country bumpkin Charles (Gerard Blain) comes to Paris to study for a law exam at the same time as his urbane cousin Paul (Jean-Claude Brialy). The pair stay together in a chic pied-a-terre belonging to their uncle, an international businessman with a shady reputation, and Paul – who has already landed himself in hot water, apparently getting a girl pregnant – takes it upon himself to introduce Charles to his citifed friends. As these include characters such as Clovis (Claude Cerval), an unsavoury older man who tries to make a bit of cash on the side by pimping out Paul's female acquaintances, Charles quickly becomes disillusioned.