Head Popping Fun- Scanners 3- The Takeover
I’m not sure that I like the US title of this. I mean “The Takeover” is pretty literal really, given that much of the action in the film follows an evil Scanner “taking over” her adopted father’s business. Mind you, having said that, The UK Title (Scanner Force) is just fucking ridiculous. Nevertheless, putting title whinges behind me, this is part 3 of the Scanners series.
I first stumbled across this film when I was in my teens. At the time, I was almost completely ignorant of the Scanners films, however, something about this frankly cheesy second sequel grabbed my attention and much to my amazement I remember it as being fucking awesome. Perhaps it was something to do with the gratuitous nudity, or perhaps it was the Scan-Fu (more on this later) or even the scantily clad nympho nurse, but if I was going to put money on something, then I do have to say it would be the opening scene. The opening scene to Scanners 3 is absolutely stupendous, it is a bad taste masterclass of sheer comedy and to be blunt the rest of the film cannot possibly live up to something as enormously stupid as its fantastic prelude.
The film opens with a bit of scrolling writing telling us, for the uninitiated, about the evils of Ephemerol and the terrible price to humanity that the Scanners are. Not a great start, in hindsight, as if you have gone out of your way to watch a film called Scanners 3, then chances are you know exactly what to expect from Scanners and all about
Thalidomide Ephemerol. However, unpromising opening aside, the film then slides gently into its standout scene. It’s Christmas and there’s a douchebag party taking place in a penthouse. Enter Alex and Helena who are going to wreck the party and ruin everybody’s festive fun. Alex’s mate (dressed as Santa) overhears a couple of “hot” chicks in the corner discussing the Scanner Myth, and before you can say “Can you fly motherfucker” he’s coercing Alex into “scanning” him as some kind of wank party trick. Hilariously, there’s an accident and Alex launches his buddy through the fucking window and straight down 20 floors to the pavement. Where, brilliantly, a little girl is standing to witness a drunken twat dressed as Santa perform that favourite dance of depressives everywhere: the Pavement Pizza. How is that not funny? After this little escapade Alex buggers off to Thailand to learn Buddhism and not be such a tool. In the meantime, his sister (also a Scanner) has put herself on a weird new drug that controls the headaches but suppresses the conscience and soon enough is on a megalomania driven quest for world domination, only Alex can save the day.
There’s a lot to like here, in fact, of the Scanners films that I’ve seen so far this is the only one that really is fit to carry on the legacy. In a completely dumbhouse kind of way. For example, Helena is transformed by her new wonder drug from a kind of mousey girl next door type into a raving fuckmonster with an attitude problem and a penchant for humiliating people who annoy her. The dancing scene in the restaurant has to really be seen to be believed, and she’s not shy about whipping her top off at the slightest provocation. Furthermore, as every good megalomaniac knows, when you set out for world domination the first thing that you’ve got to do is assemble a crew of henchmen. Helena, being kind of traditionalist, assembles a posse of mental scanners and kits them out in classic hitman garb. This is awesome, not to mention that she’s also not shy of suitably nutty speeches.
Unfortunately, the acting isn’t up to much here. Liliana Komorowska who plays Helena is Slavic and so the script goes to great lengths to explain her incongruous accent. She’s not good, really, and does completely lack the menace of Ironside from the first film. Still, she’s a dab hand at killing people in amusing ways, and there are always the juggs to consider. Steve Parrish as Alex is the traditional (in a Scanners film) plank of wood masquerading as a male lead, and it’s nice to see this continued in this installment. Well, actually it isn’t, it is in fact a bit annoying. You think somewhere out there there would be an actor who didn’t suck balls to take the job. The rest of the support is completely inconsequential.
Nevertheless, aside from Helena, there’s a whole host of other things to like about this. Apparently, being a guilty scanner holed up in a temple in Thailand makes you a dab hand at martial arts, and furthermore if you’ve got amazing telekinetic powers it appears to be piss easy to combine this with your Kung Fu antics. I can see the thinking behind this, and it is a good idea as one of the biggest flaws of the second film was that the Scanner battles basically consist of two people gurning at each other. In this film the mental powers are integrated into actual fighting. Awesome. Stupid, but nonetheless fucking fantastic.
Christian Duguay is again at the directors helm of this film, and it rattles along at a fair old pace. This is a fast paced film and there’s barely any time to assimilate the ideas or what you’ve just seen before Helena is off doing some more evil or Alex is using his zen powers to pretend to be dead to avoid the attentions of evil nymphomaniac nurse or whatever. There’s never a dull moment here.
Aside from the sheer comedy of things like Scan-Fu and the obvious jugg related antics, Scanners 3 has two other really first-rate ideas going for it. The first is that Helena was a foundling, and transported to a dubious clinic where she was tortured in the name of science. This weak-ish bit of character explanation actually fits into the whole Scanners theme and history, it’s almost Cronenberg-esque. The second, and far more important idea, is that Helena through kinky sex finds out that her scanning power can be transmitted over the airwaves. How fun- and what a potentially great way for the Scan power to evolve. I’m sure it’s a dig at the mind control present in commercial television (the sedative of the masses and all that), but it’s a nice touch in a good film.
Which, sadly, brings me on to the major flaw of Scanners 3. It’s a clusterfuck, a highly entertaining clusterfuck, but nevertheless such a large sized clusterfuck that I suspect it might qualify as a Mongolian Clusterfuck. There’s a reason for this- and that’s because, once again, there are far too many writers involved. In this case, there are 4 credited, but I’ll bet there were actually many more working on this film at one time or another. Each writer seems to have bought one idea to the table and as a result Scanners 3 is a veritable pic ‘n mix of ideas ranging from the very good to the laughably dense. This does hurt the film somewhat, as it can’t possibly follow each one of these ideas through, and it does leave the impression of being a right fucking mess. Finally, the big climactic battle scene is hugely underwhelming compared to the joys of Scan-Fu or Helena’s sociopathic antics.
Overall, this is an astonishingly enjoyable romp. Yes, it’s a complete mess, and yes it’s nuttier than a snickers bar but in comparison to the enormously lacklustre Scanners 2 it’s huge fun. The reason being, is that it’s a full on piece of schlock and one of the more entertaining ones that I’ve seen recently. However, it is seriously flawed and as hard as Komorowska tries there’s no doubt that the series still misses the fucking awesome Michael Ironside. As a result, I’m giving Scanners 3: The Takeover a completely fair and quite unexpected 2 and a half DO THE CUNT IRONSIDES out of 4.
Next up is Scanner Cop, and if Scanners 3 was schlock I can’t think what a film with that title is going to be.