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HomeMovie NewsScanners III: The Takeover (1991) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

Scanners III: The Takeover (1991) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The Scanners III: The Takeover episode of The Black Sheep was Written and Narrated by Andrew Hatfield, Edited by Brandon Nally, Produced by Lance Vlcek and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

Scanners is one of those seminal 80’s sci fi horror flicks. It’s also done by the master of body horror David Cronenberg. It’s a great flick that didn’t need any sequels and just by saying that I have unleashed the probability of a remake and more sequels coming our way. It’s the rule of horror flicks. Cronenberg isn’t immune to sequels either, especially ones he had no involvement in like The Fly 2. Nothing wrong with that movie, it’s actually a lot of fun, but The Fly absolutely didn’t need a sequel. While The Dead Zone was eventually turned into a TV show starring Anthony Michael Hall, that was much more a Stephen King movie rather than a David Cronenberg movie. Scanners, though, was an original work written and directed by the Canadian maestro. And Scanners is the subject of today’s video… Scanners III: The Takeover (watch it HERE) to be exact.

Now Scanners III is the third of technically FIVE, yes FIVE, movies in the Scanners series. I didn’t even really put that together because of how movies were released back in the 90s. While there are these first 3 Scanners movies, there are also the Scanner Cop movies which were sometimes released as Scanner Cop and sometimes released as Scanners 4 and 5. Hell, today’s movie was released as Scanner Force. Vinegar Syndrome has released those two movies on 4K and Blu Ray but it took a very small, no frills release from Scream Factory to get a double pack of the first two Scanners sequels out into the world. When I say no frills I mean it, there aren’t even subtitles on this dang thing, they do look great though. So why would these two be released together? Well, they are kind of a two pack even though they don’t have anything to do with each other apart from the fact that they are Scanners sequels.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Scanners 2 and 3 are both directed by the same guy. Christian Duguay is a journeyman Canadian director. This fits in perfectly as Cronenberg is Canada’s favorite horror son. Duguay has actually done a bunch of recognizable things. He started out by directing 16 episodes of the show Crossbow about the William Tell mythos and then moved on to direct the Scanners sequels that both came out in 1991. Following that he did stuff like the Pierce Brosnan and Ron Silver led Live Wire, mid-’90s Peter Weller led gem Screamers, and Wesley Snipes action flick Art of War. He did a bunch of other things I guarantee you saw browsing video store aisles in the 90s and 2000s. The movie carried 3 credited writers with B.J. Nelson, Julie Richard, and David Preston. Richard only has this film actually credited to her, but Nelson also wrote the classic action movie Lone Wolf McQuade. Preston had the most credits of the 3 with tons of TV shows including 6 episodes of Alone in the Dark.

Going into this video I was fully prepared to discuss Scanners 2 as the Black Sheep but after rewatching both of these, it’s hands down Scanners 3. Part 2 tries to expand on the Scanners world but is a slow watch with not a lot of fun parts besides a few cool special effects of bad guys dying. Three though? This movie is fun. It’s bad, fun, never boring with more than a few cool special effects. It also gives real stakes to the plot with the main villain trying to kill all non-scanners across the planet. The movie opens with a nice scroll explaining the Scanner phenomenon and what has been around now for a couple generations. The movie then opens at a Christmas party which now automatically makes this a Christmas horror movie even though it’s never mentioned after this. Scanner brother and sister Alex and Helena Monet show up to the party and Alex gives his girlfriend Joyce a nice necklace before accidentally killing his friend when another guy bumps into him. It’s a messed-up scene as a little kid watches Santa Claus fall to his death. That little kid probably grew up to be the killer in a Silent Night sequel.

Alex goes off to live alone, leaving his adopted father and sister while learning to master his powers in Thailand. Helena stays home and is tired of the Scanner life when her father tries to give her a cure but instead of curing her, it turns her into basically a Bond villain. The main cast is a mix of bad and good but do a good job with the material. The scientist adoptive father is played by Colin Fox and was the actor I immediately recognized. He has showed up in hundreds of roles including TV shows as far back as 1965. He appeared in genre stuff like 3 episodes of the Friday the 13th series, Food of the Gods 2, and Goosebumps. Steve Parish plays Alex, the good sibling, and he did a whole lot of nothing else in his career. He’s fine here and easy to root for. Finally, there is Liliana Komorowska as the eventually evil sibling Helena. She was a consistently working Polish actress before this movie and worked steadily after, often appearing in the directors’ other films.

Elton Monet invents something to help the Scanners stay calm, drown out the many voices they hear, and essentially live a normal life. It looks kind of like a nicotine patch honestly. Unfortunately, it has some side effects that include going mad with power. Helena uses this newfound confidence and anger to embarrass a coworker, blow up the finger and head of the doctor that tortured her as a young girl, and eventually kill her father and take over the company. She uses this untested drug, eph 3, to build a small army of Scanners to fight back. Her brother tries to stay out of it and wants nothing to do with the company but is brought into the mess when a friend of his father is killed in front of him by a Scanner controlling other people.

Scanners III The Takeover

Two of the things that really stand out here are Helena’s performance and the special effects. The first movie had some great body horror with the obvious choice, and one most people remember, being when Michael Ironside blows up a guy’s head like an over-filled water balloon. There’s a few more though and the final scene and standoff between the two leads is remarkable. Now this movie definitely has some stuff in it that plays like the SNL sketch where Jim Carrey scans someone in the audience and there is an awful lot of no effects body acting, but there is also a lot of the stuff we look for with people getting deformed or blown up and it really helps the movie along. Helena wants to develop more of the medicine that helps control her powers for other Scanners to use but she also realizes that she can control people through TV signals. She figures this out after convincing a guy to leave his girlfriend and be with her. She’s a compelling villain and is just kind of a dirtbag. She also uses her powers to have people kill themselves, make board members vote her in unanimously, really anything she wants.

Her brother comes back, even though she thought he was dead, and she needs to play the helpless card for a while and also uses his ex-girlfriend to work on the formula. That controlling through the TV ability turns her attention from merely helping her fellow Scanners to making them the dominant species. The movie takes a turn for the ridiculous when she sends a busty nurse and some henchmen after her brother. It turns into a Looney Tunes sketch before they actually try to kill him. He escapes on motorcycle and when they think they’ve killed him, he blows up a guy under water, another fun special effect. Alex meets up with his ex-girlfriend played by Valerie Vaolis and tells her about his sister going evil.

They work together to stop her, but Helena’s goon squad shows up again and seemingly kills Alex after he gets a couple more of them. He isn’t dead of course and used his monks’ teachings to slow his heart and breathing down to appear dead. Helena has taken over Joyce and is going to broadcast to the world a Scanner message that will kill millions. Ya know, real Bond movie villain stuff. There is some more great face contorting resulting in body part explosions and Alex is able to confront his sister before she can complete her task. They fight as only Scanners know how and Alex almost pops while blowing up all the equipment in the studio.

He manages to knock off her safety button that administers her drugs and at first, she seems to lose all her memory before electrocuting herself to death. It’s a sad scene that helps give her character real depth and makes you care about her whole journey. She and Alex only see each other the first time again at the 40 minutes left in the film mark and while Helena is the big bad, she’s the far more interesting character. She seemingly ends up in the space between the monitor and we get credits in complete silence. A final strange choice the moviemakers made.

The movie didn’t do well and is the lowest rated of the first three films. This is a mistake in my mind as it goes the most for broke. Whether you include the Scanner Cop movies in the series or not, this one is a minor gem that should be watched. It doesn’t have anything to do with the original movie, but it doesn’t have to. Scanners is a series where every movie after the first one could be considered a Black Sheep, but these movies prove that everything deserves a chance. Whether you get the Scream Factory Blu-ray double pack or catch it on Tubi, this movie is a fun time that should be experienced by fans and newbies alike.

A couple of the previous episodes of The Black Sheep can be seen below. To see more, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

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