Though they are tech­ni­cal­ly sequels to the same orig­i­nal film, Scanners II and Scanners III take com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent approach­es to their work.  Scanners II plays it straight, mak­ing an earnest attempt to con­tin­ue and build upon the mythol­o­gy of the first film.  Scanners III takes only the most basic ele­ments of the Scanners con­cept and runs amuck, cre­at­ing a dement­ed cock­tail of hor­ror, high con­cept sci-fi, exploita­tion and low­brow  com­e­dy.  You couldn’t com­pare the result to Cronenberg’s orig­i­nal film with a straight face… but Scanners III offers the kind of brain-blitz­ing delights that no nor­mal film ever could.

Scanners III is a tale of two scan­ner sib­lings, Alex (Steve Parrish) and Helena (Liliana Komorowska).  Alex acci­den­tal­ly kills a friend while demon­strat­ing his scan­ning abil­i­ties and runs off to a Thai bud­dhist monastery(!) to escape his guilt and learn con­trol over his abil­i­ties.  Meanwhile, Helena is cop­ing with ever-more debil­i­tat­ing headaches brought on by her scan­ning pow­ers.  In des­per­a­tion, she steals a sam­ple of an exper­i­men­tal drug for scan­ners that her father Elton (Colin Fox) is work­ing on.  It cures the headaches… but it has the nasty side-effect of mak­ing her socio­pathic.

In short order, Helena knocks dad­dy out of the way, takes over his com­pa­ny and uses the exper­i­men­tal drug to cre­ate a breed of sim­i­lar­ly pow­er­ful and socio­pathic scan­ners.  When Alex is warned of what is hap­pen­ing, he returns to face Helena and find out what has hap­pened to her.  Unfortunately, she is too far gone from her drug use and the only way left to end her dreams of world dom­i­na­tion is a broth­er-sis­ter bat­tle of the scan­ners.

The above syn­op­sis can’t cap­ture how utter­ly, over-the-top weird Scanners III is.  It is full of crazy ideas about what a Scanners film should be and doesn’t let allow nar­ra­tive con­sis­ten­cy to get in the way of those crazy ideas.  It almost seems as if the four writ­ers involved in the script came up with a bunch of sce­nes that they want­ed to see and then con­trived a plot around it.  Thus, you get such strange high­lights as Helena using her scan­ning abil­i­ties to make a bird and a fin­ger explode, a comic relief scan­ning army who crack bad jokes while try­ing to kill Alan, a scene in which Helena psy­chi­cal­ly forces a busi­ness rival do a slap­stick dance in a restau­rant and a scene in Thailand involv­ing a scan­ner using kick­box­ers to do his dirty work.  They also find time to work in gra­tu­itous nude sce­nes for both of the film’s female leads.

As a result, Scanners III doesn’t make sense, much less serve as a prop­er sequel.  However, if you take it as a dement­ed roller­coast­er then it offers tons of per­verse­ly inspired cheap thrills.  The per­for­mances range from ham­my to bland but they all man­age to play the bizarre sto­ry straight, with Komorowska win­ning top marks with her per­for­mance as the film’s “good girl gone bad.”  As incon­sis­tent­ly writ­ten as her role is, she man­ages to keep up with its con­tor­tions and deliv­er a per­for­mance that is sur­pris­ing­ly inspired.

The film also boasts effec­tive direc­tion from Scanners II direc­tor Christian Duguay.  He does the only sen­si­ble thing with a sto­ry this crazy: he keeps his pac­ing fast, push­es the action to the fore­front and wraps it in slick visu­als.  He shows the flair for action that he’d devel­op as his career con­tin­ued with a num­ber of well-mount­ed setpieces, like the kick­box­ing sequence and a pret­ty intense motorcycle/bus chase that cli­max­es with an explo­sive stunt over water.

In short, Scanners III is one of the cra­zi­est hor­ror sequels you’ll ever see, min­ing the same bizarre humor and any­thing-goes approach to plot­ting and set­pieces that you see in the lat­er Nightmare On Elm Street sequels.  It may not make much sense but it’s nev­er dull and has the kind of weird­ly inven­tive style that will keep bad-movie buffs riv­et­ed to the screen, wait­ing to see what crazy thing hap­pens next.

Blu-Ray Notes: Scanners III makes its debut on blu-ray in the U.S. via a new blu-ray/DVD com­bo pack from Scream Factory that pairs it with Scanners II.  The blu-ray was viewed for this review and it looks good, deliv­er­ing a col­or­ful and crisp image.  The film’s orig­i­nal stereo mix is pre­sent­ed in loss­less form on the blu-ray and it’s a dynam­ic, nice­ly defined mix.  There are no spe­cial fea­tures to speak of — but the pack­ag­ing and two-for-one setup offers plen­ty of val­ue.