I'm a fairly big fan of Cronenberg--I liked his latest work, Spider, and I think he's even more stubbornly wayward and perverse in his career choices than fellow shock-surrealist David Lynch, who does have something of the apple-pie boy scout lurking underneath all his weirdness.

That said, I've managed to miss this key work in his oeuvre till now. And it's something of a revelation. People always talk of how Cronenberg's specialty is "venereal horror," or horror that reflects the disgust and repulsion one feels at the human reproductive organs--Rabid, Shivers, the AIDs subtext in The Fly, Dead Ringers--they're clearly of this genre.

But maybe less well known and just as if not more interesting is a different genre, the genre of paranoia, conspiracies and head trips evidenced by films like Spider, Videodrome, and this film. It's not so much the body process, though there is some in Videodrome and to some extent in Scanners, as it is the mind processes that Cronenberg is concerned with.

So Scanners may not be your typical Cronenberg film (ha-ha, as if they could ever be called typical), but it's not all that unusual either. It's a head-trip, maybe not as bizarre as Videodrome, but fairly well and entertainingly told, with some spectacular setpieces--the exploding head, the online computer hacking (the first such, I suspect, ever depicted in movies), and the final duel between scanners. (con't)

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