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Scanners 3 : The Takeover (1992)
3rd Aug 05
A young female scanner turns from a sweet young thing into a murderous, power-crazed villain.
Made back-to-back with Scanners 2 by the same director Christian Duguay, the third part in the series (aka Scanner Force in the UK) is not so much a sequel, more of a parallel story in the ‘Scanners’ universe. Duguay ditches the character links from the first two films, instead focusing on two new sibling characters that, when accompanied by Duguay’s flat TV-style direction, often seems more like a TV Scanners series pilot than a feature film.
The hero this time round is a Scanner called Alex who we meet at a Xmas party giving his girlfriend Joyce a necklace. He then proceeds to give the partygoers a Scanner demo, but in doing so he accidentally pushes his friend (who is dressed as Santa) out of the window to fall to his death in front of a six-year-old girl on the pavement many floors below (quite subversive actually). Declared 'not guilty' for the 'accident', and overcome with voiceover emotion, Alex decides to bugger off to Thailand for a bit.
Two years later, and we are introduced to Alex’s sister, Helena (Liliana Komorowska) and Joyce as a gang of street-thugs attacks them in an alley. The thugs threaten, but Helena, in a portent of the film's quality, uses her powers to Scan them and send them flying into a rubbish truck.
Helena then chats to her father at home, who, quite luckily, is a Doctor who works at a Scanner clinic for terminally ill Scanners. Rather stupidly he shows her his latest drug solution, a yet-to-be-tested patch, EPH-3, which lasts 24 hours and needs to be placed behind the ear. They’re actually quite cool gadgets, but do they have flashing LED lights, which is bit of a flaw if you want to remain undetected as a Scanner, don't you think..!
Obviously Helena uses the patch, feels 'flighty' and then scans one of her business rivals to perform a dance and strip at a nearby restaurant just to humiliate him. By the time she sends him flying into a Grand Piano you kind of get the feeling that this girl may well go a bit doo-lally and turn all evil, like. "You just fucked with the wrong person!" she says. Dear little Helena, my ass.
So anyway, off she goes to see her old doctor who abused her (cue awful flashback) and she pulls his finger off, and takes a Polaroid of his head exploding (it’s not as good as the one in Scanners 2). Cue then a full-on rampage, as Helena enlists the help of the other Scanners - "We do not belong at the bottom of the dung heap, we belong at the top!" - and kills her dad whilst naked in the Jacuzzi. She also squeezes apples in her fists, and hires Georgey boy as her PA, sex slave, and cigar-hand-burning guinea pig, and even forces two people on TV to do "the naked nasty.” Like I said, she begins turning a bit evil.
All this time, and Alex is still moping around in Thailand and who can blame him. I mean given the choice of watching Scanners 3 and moping around in Thailand, I know which one I’d pick. He eventually decides to head home when possessed Thai kick-boxers kill his visiting friend Michael, and he returns to fight his sister, some killer nurses, and other Scanners who seem to have escaped from the set of Phantasm 3.
If all that sounds like fun, it’s not. It's bollocks. It really is. The pace is indeed faster than the previous film, but unfortunately the dumb plotting, dumb acting and even dumber direction still make the 95-minute film seem like 3 hours. There are all too often many misappropriate comedy moments, this is the age when the third part of a ‘horror’ franchise had to adopt more comic elements to survive (see Texas 3, Hellraiser 3, Tremors 3 etc etc) and it usually meant it killed the series.
There may be some moments here to enjoy if you look hard enough - there's an underwater head explosion, a nice piece with an exploding pigeon and a televised American Football game which silences the yank fans in all the bars nationwide. But please don't bill it as a slicker, wilder and more ironic film than the others, it's none of those. Shitter maybe, but not slicker.
Featuring the worst lead actor of the three films, an over-performing drama-queen as a baddy, and a dumb, dumb script that’s light years away from Cronenberg's thought-provoking intelligent look at ‘outsiders with unnatural talents’ there really isn’t that much to recommend Scanners 3. Mourn the loss of intelligence, and deplore its cheesy exploitative approach. Cronenberg deserves better.