Scanners II: The New Order / Scanners III: The Takeover (Blu-ray)
Shout! Factory / 1991 - 92 / 104 & 101 mins / R
A full decade after David Cronenberg's original SCANNERS hit theaters, the franchise tried to rise anew in the profitable world of the direct-to-video market with the hopeful one-two punch of SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER and SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER. Both films were low budget endeavors written by the same person (B. J. Nelson) and directed by the same person (Christian Duguay) but apart from the poor quality of, well, everything, you'd never know it.
SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER follows David Kellum (David Hewlett), a young man just discovering his telekinetic and telepathic abilities as a "scanner." When he thwarts a convenience store robbery without touching anything, he gets the attention of John Forrester (Yvan Ponton), a police commander with scanner connections and a sinister agenda for a "new order."
SCANNERS II takes itself seriously. Usually this is a good thing, but writer Nelson and director Duguay take the silly plot SO seriously that it drags the enjoyment level down to practically nil. While we are told of Forrester's master plan (to have scanners control the population so he can take over), it is such a vague plan that it's hard to find it much of an actual threat. In this film scanners can only attack one person at a time, and Forrester's only successful recruits have been the psychotic Drak (Raoul Trujillo), whom he uses as muscle more than anything, and David, who is seriously questioning Forrester's motives. SCANNERS II just rambles on and on for its interminable feeling 104 minutes and is just not worth the time.
SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER jettisons everything from the first two movies and tries to start over again. Helena Monet (Liliana Komorowska) suffers from being a scanner. She gets intense migraines and debilitating attacks in the middle of crowds. Her father, the ultra-wealthy pharmaceutical scientist Dr. Elton Monet (Colin Fox), has been trying to find a cure for her condition. He feels he is on the verge of a breakthrough with his new Eph3 drug, but it still needs extensive testing. Helena steals the first batch of Eph3 and immediately becomes a murdering, power-crazed super villainess out to take over the world. No, really. That's the plot. Honest.
SCANNERS III does not take itself seriously. At all. It is a complete 180 degree turnaround in tone from SCANNERS II. It has gratuitous nudity, very black humor, hysterical over-acting (apparently if a scanner whips their head toward their victim it gives an added oomph to their attack!) and wild plot inconsistencies (did ya know scanners can make bikes explode?) that have the logic of a Rocky and Bullwinkle story. This is the movie Scanners fans hate and despise, but I honestly liked it a whole lot more than SCANNERS II. It never completely dives into the so-bad-it's-good level of weirdness, but it gets close enough to at least be entertaining. And that's something.
Both films are presented in anamorphic 1.78 and individual shots appear to come in two distinct varieties: surprisingly sharp and clear or completely covered in a snowstorm of film grain; sometimes we get both in the same scene! The snowstorm problem arises during the darker scenes (naturally) but in the second half of SCANNERS III, it occurs during well-lit interior scenes. This isn't a constant problem but it does happen consistently. The rest of the transfers look amazingly sharp and clear with very good fine detail visible. The source prints are in excellent condition with no scratches or age related blemishes to be seen.
Both films have been given DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtracks. They are simple stereo mixes but are very clean.
Not a single thing. Not even trailers.
Nobody will ever say SCANNERS II and III are good movies, but Shout! Factory has brought them to Blu-ray in what will probably be the best looking and sounding transfers these movies will ever get. Recommended only to those who know what they are getting into.