Scanners (1981)

35mm film, Eastmancolor, 1.85:1
mono, English

A Canadian science fiction/horror film directed by David Cronenberg. Production took place between 30 October and 23 December 1979 and the film was first released in the USA on 14 January 1981 in 387 cinemas.

Plot Summary

A race of powerful telepaths known as “scanners” has started to emerge and one of them has been recruited by a scientist and his shady organisation to track down and stop a murderous, power-mad scanner.


Directed by: David Cronenberg
Pierre David and Victor Solnicki present a David Cronenberg film. This film was produced with the participation of The Candian Film Development Corporation
Executive Producers: Victor Solnicki, Pierre David
Produced by: Claude Héroux
Written by: David Cronenberg
Director of Photography: Mark Irwin
Edited by: Ronald Sanders
Music by: Howard Shore
Sound: Don Cohen
Costume Designer: Delphine White
Make-up: Brigitte McCaughry
Hair: Constant Natale
Consultant for Special Make-up Effects: Dick Smith
Special Make-up: Stéphan Dupuis, Chris Walas, Tom Schwartz
Special Effects: Gary Zeller
Micro Effects: Dennis Pike
Art Director: Carol Spier

Jennifer O'Neill (Kim Obrist)
Stephen Lack (Cameron Vale)
Patrick McGoohan (Dr Paul Ruth)
Lawrence Dane (Braedon Keller)
Michael Ironside (Darryl Revok)
Robert Silverman (Benjamin Pierce)
Lee Broker (Security One)
Mavor Moore (Trevellyan)
Adam Ludwig (Arno Crostic)
Lee Murray (programmer 1)
Fred Doederlein (Dieter Tautz)
Géza Kovács (killer in record store)
Sony Forbes, Jérôme Thibergien (killers in attics)
Denis Lacroix, Elizabeth Mudry (killers in barn)
Victor Désy (Dr Gatineau)
Louis Del Grande (first scanner)
Tony Sherwood, Ken Umland, Anne Anglin, Jock Brandis (scanners in attic)

Alternative Titles

Agyfürkészok – Hungarian title
Kontrolori – Serbian title
The – early title
Scanners – dödande tanke – Swedish Finnish title
Scanners – Ihre Gedanken können töten – German title
Scanners – Ihre Gedanken können töten – West German title
Scanners – Sua Mente Pode Destruir – Brazilian title
Scanners 1 – Sua Mente Pode Destruir – Brazilian video title
Scanners: Mentes destructoras – Peruvian title
The Sensitives
– Polish title
Skeneriai – Lithuanian title
Tappava ajatus – Finnish video title
Tarayicilar – Turkish title
Telépatas, mentes destructoras – Mexican title
Telepathy 2000 – early title

Scanners II: The New Order (1991)
Scanners III: The Takeover (1991)

See also
Scanner Cop (1994)
Scanner Cop II (1995)

Extracts included in
1,001 Movies You Must See (Before You Die) (2014)
30 Even Scarier Movie Moments (2006)
The American Nightmare (2000)
The Ephemerol Diaries: Ein Interview Mit Stephen Lack (2012)
Fear Itself (2015)
Inside Scan: Scanners (2005)
Long Live the New Flesh: The Films of David Cronenberg (1987)
Mental Saboteur (2014)
Naked Making Lunch (1992)
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)
The Scanners Way: Creating the Special Effects in Scanners (2014)
Terror in the Aisles (1984)
Trailer Trauma 3: '80s Horror-Thon (2017)
Veerana (1988)

See also
Scanners: Dopplegayners (2015)



  • Cahiers du Cinéma no.322 (April 1981) pp.57-58
  • Cinefantastique vol.10 no.1 (Summer 1980) p.35
  • Cinefantastique vol.10 no.4 (Spring 1981) pp.32; 45 – note; review
  • Cinema Canada vol.3 no.63 (March 1980) pp.20-27 – articles
  • Cinema Canada vol.3 no.72 (March 1981) pp.34-36 – credits, review
  • Cinema Journal vol.36 no.1 (Autumn 1996) pp.55-74 – illustrated article (Dr. Hobbs Parasites: Victims, Victimization and Gender in David Cronenberg's Shivers by David Sanjek)
  • Copie Zéro no.10 (1981) p.40 – credits
  • L'Écran Fantastique no.16 (1980) p.71
  • L'Écran Fantastique no.19 (1981) pp.72-74 – illustrated interview with David Cronenberg
  • Empire no.194 (August 2005) p.178 – illustrated DVD review (RWD: Scanners box set by Justin Bowyer)
  • Empire no.222 (December 2007) pp.240-241 – illustrated article (The top 10: Explosions by Simon Braund)
  • Film Review no.660 (August 2005) p.118 – illustrated DVD review (Scanners box set by Nikki Baughan)
  • Films vol.1 no.5 (April 1981) pp.36-37
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.259 no.6 (6 November 1979) p.24 – credits
  • The Listener vol.105 no.2709 (23 April 1981) p.552 – review (by Gavin Millar)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.48 no.567 (April 1981) p.78
  • Motion Picture Product Digest vol.8 no.17 (4 February 1981) p.66
  • Screen International no.285 (28 March 1981) p.13
  • Sight & Sound vol.15 no.9 (September 2005) p.91 – DVD review (Scanners box set by Matthew Leyland)
  • Starburst no.33 (1981) pp.24-27
  • Variety 21 January 1981 p.26


  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.362-363
  • The Cinema of David Cronenberg: From Baron of Blood to Cultural Hero by Ernest Mathijs pp.2-4, 8, 49-51, 69-77, 84-89, 901-101, 104-105, 122, 124-126, 142, 155, 162, 182, 188, 202, 214, 223, 236, 250; 279
  • Cronenberg on Cronenberg by Chris Rodley (ed.) pp.29, 85-90, 92, 96, 100, 102, 108, 115, 157; 213 – illustrated notes; credits
  • David Cronenberg: Interviews with Serge Grünberg by Serge Grünberg pp.58-64; 191 – illustrated interview; credits
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.286
  • Film Review 1981-1982 by F. Maurice Speed p.166
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.498 pp.225-243
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.339
  • Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.202-205 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • The Modern Fantastic: The Films of David Cronenberg by Michael Grant (ed.) pp.2, 6, 23, 35, 36, 38-46, 51, 55, 56, 61, 65, 75, 99, 127, 170, 183
  • The Pocket Essential David Cronenberg by John Costello pp.45-50 – credits, review
  • The Politics of Insects: David Cronenberg's Cinema of Confrontation by Scott Wilson pp.5, 149, 150, 161-171, 186
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester pp.420-421
  • The Shape of Rage: The Films of David Cronenberg by Piers Handling (ed.) pp.1-79 (illustrated article (The visceral mind: The major films of David Cronenberg by William Beard); pp.80-86 – illustrated article (The comedy of David Cronenberg by Maurice Yaowar); pp.87-97 illustrated article (The word, the flesh and David Cronenberg); 98-114 illustrated article (A Canadian Cronenberg by Piers Handling); 115-135 illustrated article (Cronenberg: A Dissenting View by Robin Wood); 207-208