Scanners 3: The Takeover (1991)
SCANNERS III: THE TAKEOVER
WRITER: B.J. Nelson, Julie Richard, David Preston and Rene Malo
DIRECTOR: Christian Duguay
STARRING: Liliana Komorowska as Helena Monet
Valerie Valois as Joyce Stone
Daniel Pilon as Michael
Collin Fox as Elton Monet
Claire Cellucci as Suzy
Michael Copeman as Mitch
Sith Sekae as Monk
Harry Hill as Dr. Bauman
Chip Chuipka as Thomas
Steve Parrish as Alex Monet
QUICK CUT: After her brother disappears and her father dies, a young woman inherits the family business, and has to deal with the headaches of running a company.
Alex - Our hero, who actually checks out for half the movie. He's a Scanner, comes off as a bit wishy washy, but I suspect that's because of his time with the monks. Still, he will use his brain to kill people if he has to.
Helena - Alex's sister, and she starts off as a quiet, reserved young woman, but once she's drugged up, she becomes power mad and reckless. And she spends so little time before finding the drugs, it's largely irrelevant.
THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions! It has been a long time since we last visited the Scanners franchise, since I got a bit distracted with a summer of slashers and other things. I figured we were long past due for some more head explosions though, so let's turn our mind's eye towards Scanners 3: The Takeover!
After a text crawl summing up the first movie (And to hell with the second!) so everyone can understand this world, we start in on a Christmas party, and some people nervously whispering about Scanners. They still seem to be more urban legend than fact to most people, and I just don't quite buy that this subset of humanity has been so completely covered up by the Canad... US government.
But then Alex and Helena arrive, and ssshhh, they're actually Scanners! The drunk dressed up as Santa at the party seems to know this though, and like I said, this might be the worst kept conspiracy ever. Anywho, Santa Drunk calls Alex over and prods him to convince the party-goers that Scanners exist.
Alex braces himself, and uses his mighty mind to push the guy backwards across the room...until someone distracts Alex and he loses control. This makes Santa fly back, out the door, and off the balcony, and accidentally slays Santa. So, his reindeer can fly, but not him? What a rip.
Oh, and thanks for shouting his name as he plummets to his death, so I can properly record it in the history of Trisk deaths!
Alex is found not guilty for the murder, and if Scanners are only urban legend, that should be pretty easy, since he was literally across the room from Taylor, with about two dozen witnesses. But Alex is consumed with grief and steps out of the movie for two years, and spends most of his time studying at a monastery. We'll get back to him eventually.
We jump ahead those two years and find Helena and Alex's ex, Joyce wandering the streets of Montre...uh, unspecified US city, until a loud noises unfocuses Helena. She's supposed to be taking pills to control her brain, but they make her feel foggy and she tends to avoid them more than she should.
They try and take a shortcut away from the busy streets, but run into some vandals who have picked the wrong people to terrorise. Helena uses her brain and tosses the trash into a nearby garbage truck, where they get squished. Casey Jones would be proud.
We then meet Helena and Alex's adoptive father, who works for a pharmaceutical company that has been working to develop drugs to keep the Scanner gift under control. His latest isthe drug Ephemerol-3, which is a giant disc shaped patch that is stuck behind the ear. Helena is excited, but they still need to do human trials, and the side effects are yet unclear.
But Helena is impatient and after a bad nightmare of the doctor that tormented her as a child and her father is now working with, she slaps one on in the middle of the night, and things clear right up. Yay, better living through chemistry!
And the side effects are just as immediate. Her personality changes from this quiet, almost meek, cautious girl, into someone who is cruel, vindictive, and willing to explode a bird for crapping on her hand. I wish we had spent more time with Helena and gotten to know her better, I might actually care that she's a different person. But it's all so quick.
We suffer our way through a bunch of scenes of Helena reveling in her new absolute power that's corrupting her absolutely, such as making her boss dance like a fool after insulting her, and pushing her way up the corporate ladder. Helena is like the Diet Dark Phoenix.
Fortunately she gets more eviler when she visits the institute and the doctor who tormented her as a girl. She starts off by mentally biting off his finger, and builds up to the inevitable Scanners head explosion.
Anyways, with Bauman out of the way, and a few more orderlies killed while she's there, the inmates now run the asyulm, and the Scanners there all fall in line behind Helena's lead.
Is it wrong that I actually empathise with these people? They're victims. We are shown that Bauman and his staff *literally* torture them, treating them as little more than lab rats, and on top of that are the drugs that alter their personality. They are not in their right minds, not in proper control. How can I not feel for these people? Yes, they do horrible things, but it's *not* *their* *fault*.
Helena heads home and her dad finds her at the pool, where she demands he bring her more Eph-3. He refuses, since he sees it's affecting her badly, and she tosses him in the hot tub death machine.
With her father dead, it now becomes imperative they find Alex, and one of dad's friends declares he'll go looking for him. Helena menacingly moans about "her dear...beloved...brother..." as she sends pain bullets to the monastery he's at by crushing an apple. Mike ducks his head back in like he heard the threat and it is almost like, "Wait, what did you say?" "NOTHING NOTHING!"
Mikey heads to Thailand and finds Alex, with a little help from a Scanner at his back. And really? Dad tried finding Alex for a year and nothing, now BOOM he's found in a day? Hello, plot convenience.
After Mike catches Alex up on the plot so far, the Scanner Helena sent after them shows up, and mind controls the locals to cause some trouble, leading to Scanner kickboxing in the streets of Thailand.
Oh, and Mike gets lightly kicked and slapped around, and instantly dies. He was a very fragile toy, I guess.
While Helena takes control of dad's company, Alex visits his monk mentor, who teaches him how to slow down his heart rate all of a sudden. And let's be real, this is the ONLY reason the monks are in this movie. That, and the director probably really wanted to take a trip to Thailand. Also, it gets Alex out of the plot for half the film, but that could've been done by just traveling wherever.
Then, while having sex with her new himbo, Helena discovers she can send her powers to people she's watching on live tv. Because why not? She then visits the guy she humiliated earlier, and makes him swan dive into an empty pool to further cement her power grab.
Alex finally returns to the main plot, and looks for his sister. He finds her videotape, and that the recording also still holds the mind controlling mojo she used it for. Because why not??
I do kinda love the campy, comicbooky feel of this, and using the superpowers, but at the same time, it feels SO silly. And naturally, comes nowhere close to emulating the original and capturing that wonderful Cronenbergian sense of dread and paranoia. Largely because every time one of the Scanners uses their powers, they make the most hilarious faces. All they need is the WHOOSH sound from Xena and Hercules whenever they'd snap their head around.
Anyways, back in the plot, Helena sends Alex off to the Bauman Institute, probably hoping her Scanner army will get rid of her brother.
They grab Alex, and strap him into some instrument or other, going all Clockwork Orange on his eyes (Because one good Alex deserves another) and blast lasers into them. Alex uses his powers to move the rig out of the way, escape and...
And I am sitting here watching a man with red eyes ride off on his motorcycle, shooting mind bullets back at a school bus filled with telekinetics dressed like Capone era gangsters. What even is this movie??
They chase each other through the streets of Montreaaaahaha...undisclosed American city, and Alex ends up in the water. Mitch sends one of his minions in after him to make sure he's dead. Which leads to Alex making the goon's head explode underwater.
Alex escapes and recruits Joyce on his crusade against Helena, but not before they have sex. Because now is clearly the best time for that.
Oh, and apparently Alex's big plan is to stand on a roof looking forlorn, while sending his girlfriend into the lioness's den to hack her computer. So chivalrous, much hero.
Fortunately, Doctor House literally pops up out of nowhere and punches Alex in the face, nearly punching him right off the moping roof.
And for SOME reason, the people with mind bullets are instead running around with guns, rocket launchers, and such...and randomly scale a building with a grappling hook, instead of taking the elevator. But hey, he's at a distance, so going all out to blow up shit, I can kinda appreciate.
It's no surprise that while all this is going on, Helena discovers her hacker employee and takes her away, while Nurse Scanner tries to kill Alex in the hospital after getting shot at and thrown around. But before she can, Alex says screw that and kills himself to get out of this movie.
Er, actually, he uses the monks' techniques to slow his heart, and he gets taken to the morgue. We watch as the ME gets his stuff together, and marks up a corpse, and starts cutting into it...right as Alex wakes up BEHIND HIM. It is a genuinely great fake out, uses editing surprisingly well, and really makes you think Alex is being sawed into.
Anyways, Alex discovers Joyce is missing, rushes down to the offices, and discovers Helena about to send the Big Broadcast to...do whatever she's gonna do. Which involves a football player having his head ripped off, because why not? I guess it gives her access to a globally mind controlled army for...whatever.
The worst fears of television conspiracy theorists at last comes real, with the idiot box being used to control the masses, literally. See, there is genuinely something there. An idea that is soabsolutely Cronenbergian, but it is almost an afterthought in this movie. This should be the thrust of the plot, but no.
Alex rushes to the tv station so we can have our final battle and be done with this. And cue the battle of the mugging faces. And a few more dead bodies before Alex and Helena finally face off.
Helena starts rambling about revenge, and since when is this a revenge plot? I mean, against Bauman, sure, but that was an hour ago. And she says, "Revenge is a dish best savored cold!" Um...
Oh, and I have failed to mention throughout this entire flick, that there are apparently anti-Scanner flashlights, which I presume is similar tech to the lasers they shot into Alex's eyes earlier. It looks silly to try and stop a telekinetic with a blue light shined in their face, but here we are. I guess that explains why they're just an urban legend though; Scanners don't like the spotlight.
But Alex manages to fight his way beyond the light, and uses his powers anyways to crash part of the news set and turning the light off for good.
We reach the typical Scanner on Scanner violence of a mind battle, and it's not long before Alex's face starts to bulge like it's ready to explode. And by all rights, it should. With the level of power Helena has been showing, she should easily rip his mind apart, neuron by neuron.
But in a neat little trick, it's not the big showy explosions or giant use of powers, but a more minute, finessed use of them that wins the day. Alex just uses a tiny fluctuation in his sister's neck muscles to get the Eph-3 patch off of her. I really like that change, that it's a small use, more controlled use, that saves the day; a scalpel rather than a hammer.
Helena's mind shifts back INSTANTLY and she is wracked with guilt, taking her own life before she can give in to her addiction again. It's a good way to bookend things, with her guilt mirroring Alex's own for murdering Santa at the beginning.
BUT, if it was that simple, that instantaneous, why did it not happen in the moments when she was swapping patches? I guess the need to have a new patch attached overrode her guilt, but why the guilt NOW then? Simply because she has no immediate fix to dull that pain? Okay, I suppose.
So Helena electrocutes herself, and while that should be the end of it, and by all rights it is, since the movie ends and this plotline is never again referenced in any future sequels, we do see her grab a cable connected to a camera, and her spirit go through the lines into the airwaves.
Ugh, but is she still evil? But the patch was gone? Ugh. I hope she runs into Horace Pinker out there and he eats her like the chump breakfast she is. With cheese spread.
Video: Another solid enough looking movie from the 90s.
Audio: Not bad, it all sounds pretty good for this kind of thing.
Best Line: "I actually slipped a mickey...into your LIFE." ...Whut?
Body Count: I am genuinely surprised at the number of bodies this movie wracks up during its runtime.
1 - Almost six minutes in, and Santa Taylor goes splat.
2, 3, and 4 - The attempted muggers get squished in a garbage truck.
5 - Helena makes Bauman's head explode in good Scanner fashion
6 - Makes an orderly shoot himself next.
7 - Unknown demise of orderly #2.
8 - Then Helena drowns her adoptive father.
9 - After being lightly slapped around, Michael dies.
10 - Helena makes Mark take a swan dive into the concrete.
11 - Dude gets his head blown up underwater.
12 - Random goon gets shot up by a pal.
13 - Poor football player gets his head and spine removed
14 - Random mind controlled minion shoots himself in the head thanks to Alex.
15 - Scanner dies in the revolving door
16 - Helena electructionals herself out of guilt.
Best Corpse: That honour has to go to Bauman. He deserved it, and how can I say no to a classic head explosion? And the best looking one in the movie.
Blood Type - B: A solid effort, with a few of the expected head explosions, and some okay effects. But too many of them look kinda silly, as well done as they are. Like the one House lookalike's face getting all squishy in the revolving door.
Sex Appeal: Here and there with Helena finding her power
Drink Up! Every time a Scanner mugs for the camera or whips their head towards a victim.
Video Nasties: A quick head explosion, this time underwater!
Movie Review: This is so far removed from the heights of big ideas of the original. But it has some good ideas of its own. It's not so much a Scanner movie, but a watered down version thereof. It's certainly not bad, but not great either. It screeeams direct to VHS. The budget is low, but not that low, the acting is hammy and campy, and if you think about it too hard, the plot explodes like a head in a Scanners movie. Two out of five mental gangsters.
Entertainment Value: I know it's bad, but I kinda loved this movie. It is SO campyThe scenery chewing, the mugging for the camera, the mind acting... Just...just enjoy these gifs.
I mean, c'mon! How do you not love this sort of hammy acting? This is so hammy, it's practically Canadian bacon. I love how campy this movie is, and it totally owns that. It knows it's a little silly and leans in hard. I love how this is almost a comicbook come to life, in the very early days, and while it's a far cry from the original classic, and it's far from a good movie, it is wildly entertaining. Four out of five blue steels.