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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Scanners II: The New Order

September 13, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Scanners II: The New Order

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #427: Scanners II: The New Order

Scanners September: Week 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to subdue gun wielding psychos committing a convenience store robbery using telekinesis because, in the real world, telekinesis is bullshit, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and twenty-seven, Scanners September continues with Scanners II: The New Order, which hit movie screens in June of 1991.

Scanners II: The New Order

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Scanners II: The New Order, directed by Christian Duguay, doesn’t seem like the kind of movie that should be a part two in a franchise that started with something like the first Scanners. Instead, The New Order feels like it should be a part 4 or 5, something that was created to cash in on the success of the first three movies that would have formed the “original Scanners Trilogy.” It came out ten years or so after the first movie, it looks like the kind of movie that you would find in a video store back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s (I believe The New Order did receive some sort of theatrical release but I can’t outright confirm that), and when you look at its plot it seems a little too low rent to be a direct sequel to the first movie. But that isn’t to say that Scanners II: The New Order is a bad movie. It isn’t. It isn’t a great movie or a great sequel, but it is very watchable and fun.

The New Order stars David Hewlett as David Kellum, a smart/sort of slackerish college student studying to be a veterinarian. He’s in the big city for the first time and seems to have an issue showing up on time for his classes (we see him show up late for a surgery class). David also has weird headaches at random times, headaches that make him miserable when they occur as there’s no real relief for them. David is sweet on Alice Leonardo (Isabelle Mejias), a fellow vet student who just so happens to have the hots for him. In fact, Alice actually asks David out on a date and damn near jumps his bones on a public escalator. While grabbing some groceries from a convenience store, two psycho robbers show up and jack the place, killing two clerks while stealing Alice’s purse (those bastards!). In the midst of the robbery, David reveals/realizes that he has the ability to control people and things with his mind and he springs into action, disarming both criminals and popping the skull of one (one of the movie’s top gore moments). David’s sort of vigilante justice/amazing ability is caught on the store’s surveillance camera and the footage draws the attention of John Forrester (Yvan Ponton), a police commander with major plans to take over the city and, maybe, one day, the world.

How the hell could Commander Forrester take over the city? Forrester is working with a Doctor Morse (Tom Butler), a scientist researching the scanner phenomena. Morse is in the midst of developing a new drug, F2, that’s used to help control scanners and their scanning ability. The drug is successful to a point, as scanners can become super addicted to it, and when they become addicted to it their scanning ability is essentially non-existent. Forrester’s big scheme is to use the scanners that he finds roaming the streets, give them to Morse in order to make them malleable, and then use their scanning ability to take over the city government and control the minds of the people living in the city. Forrester is tired of the crime and whatnot he deals with on a daily basis and seems to think that his scanning scheme will allow him to, once and for all, rid the city of crime and criminals. However, Forrester is pissed with Morse’s research as too many scanners end up addicted to F2. He needs as many scanners as he can get to “do what needs to be done.”

So Forrester sees the David Kellum footage, realizes David is a scanner, and immediately tries to recruit him to his plan. Forrester doesn’t tell David his entire plan, as he’s pretty sure that David wouldn’t cooperate if he knew the truth, but he does feed him a story about how he can help people if he uses his scanning ability in conjunction with the police. David is a bit leery of teaming up with the police at first, but he eventually agrees to work with Forrester and Morse because, hey, who wouldn’t want to stop the bad guys? David’s first task is to find out who is poisoning the city’s milk supply (he roots out the culprit fairly quickly and is heralded as a kind of hero).

Now, while all of that is going on, we see Forrester engaging in what amounts to seriously unethical behavior in setting up his overall scanner operation. With the help of psycho scanner Peter Drak (Raul Trujillo) and some other “zombie” scanners (I don’t know what else to call them), Forrester takes out multiple underworld figures, killing lawyers and stealing money and cocaine. We also see Forrester annoy his boss, the police chief (Chief Stokes, as played by Tom Harvey), and the mayor (Dorothee Berryman) by staging unauthorized press conferences. Forrester sends Drak to kill the police chief in his own home, which leads to the mayor having to pick a new police chief. Forrester was not on the mayor’s list.

And that’s where David, naïve about what the hell is really going on, comes in. Forrester takes David to the big hooha press conference where the mayor is set to announce her new pick to be chief of police and has David use his scanning ability to cloud the mayor’s mind and pick Forrester for the job. After accepting the position he was never supposed to get, the mayor decides to make Forrester an interim police chief (she wants to find out how the hell she messed up her own press conference). Forrester is fine with the “interim” label because it will allow him to make the next step in his big city takeover plan.

Now, while all of that is going on, David realizes he’s been had and goes to see Morse to get some answers. Did the injection of F2 he received mess with his mind? David wants to know. Morse refuses to provide adequate answers, and Forrester shows up pissed off that David wants answers about anything. After some scanning shenanigans, David breaks out of Morse’s lab and heads to Vermont to see his parents to see if they have any answers regarding this scanner stuff. How did all of this happen?

So David arrives in Vermont, talks to his parents (George and Susan Kellum, as played by Murray Westgate and Doris Petrie), finds out that George and Susan are not his real parents, and that his scanning ability is something he was born with. His parents, Cameron Vale and Kim Obrist from the first movie, gave him up when he was a child. David also finds out that he has a sister, a Julie Vale (Deborah Raffin). It’s at this point that Drak and main police henchman Lt. Gelson (Vlasta Vrana) show up at David’s parents’ house and start killing people. David manages to escape. So David finds his sister, connects with her, and then the shit’s on. Forrester, Morse, and all the rest, they’re going down.

What’s weird about The New Order is how the whole scanning phenomena isn’t more well-known in the general society. The government doesn’t seem to be all that engaged in tracking scanners/searching for scanners/exploiting scanners, something you’d expect to see with this kind of story. And regular people, twenty or so years after the end of the first movie, don’t seem to be aware of the presence of telepaths at all. Even if the number of scanners is still fairly low (the first movie claimed that there were like 235 scanners in the world. There would be, maybe, a few thousand now in the world of The New Order?) wouldn’t the media have found out about them by now and created mass hysteria? It’s also strange that there are so many scanners in this one city. What the hell is so special about this city that it attracts so many scanners? The movie never gets into that.

And think about this: Forrester is a freaking psycho. The man has delusions of grandeur, he’s hell bent on controlling everyone and everything, and he’s all about power. Why would he only want to take over the city? Why not want to take over the state, the country, and eventually the world? Forrester’s big scheme seems like a big waste of villainous resources.

And then there’s the Morse Neurological Research Institute. Why is the institute only based in this one city? Why doesn’t it have a larger overall footprint both nationally and internationally? How many research institutes do you know that only work in one city? And why does it seem as though Morse only works on scanners? How does the institute know about scanners but no one else does?

And then there’s the big question: how the hell does David “look” like his father, Cameron Vale? What, exactly, does that mean? David’s sister Julie tells him that he looks “so much like father.” What? In a way, Hewlett does have a passing resemblance to the first movie’s star, Stephen Lack, but Stephen Lack doesn’t really exist anymore at the end of the first movie. I mean, right? Lack’s Vale was a burned up husk at the end of Scanners and his consciousness passed into the body of Michael Ironside’s Darryl Revok. Revok did, sort of, have Vale’s eyes at the end of the first movie, but is that what Julie was talking about when she first meets David? I doubt that. So what the hell happened? Shouldn’t David look like Michael Ironside? Did Vale’s sperm somehow pass into Revok’s body, too, when they had their “scanner off” at the end of the first movie? Am I thinking about this too much? Maybe. It could be all about the eyes.

If you can just accept the movie as it is and keep those big questions out of your mind, The New Order is pretty good. It’s a little too long, it drags every so often, but it has solid action and gore moments and a good cast. Once again, there’s a terrific exploding head scene (it isn’t as gooey as the first movie but it would be difficult to top that scene in terms of gooiness anyway). There’s also a cool, absolutely disgusting scene where the top of a guy’s head pops open and his brains ooze out. It’s like watching someone pop a giant zit. There’s also a great practical effect at the end of the movie involving a face and head morphing into a grotesque “Elephant Man” type deal. Scanners can do that? Yes, apparently they can.

The New Order relies more on action than the first Scanners, which was pretty action packed in terms of gun battles, car chases, and explosions. I’m assuming the action was amped up because the movie wasn’t going to get into any philosophical stuff about what scanners are, why scanners exist in the big scheme of things, and what should be done about them, etc. And, since this is a ten years later sequel and was likely produced to make money on home video, who has time to think about any of that stuff? Bring on the gore and exploding heads and whatnot. I can appreciate that, and I do. Do I wish there was more discussion about the presence of scanners in the world? Sure. But if there’s no time for that, blow up another head. Or shotgun someone in the face. You know, whichever is easier.

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David Hewlett does a good job as David Kellum. He knows when he has to be a hero and he knows when he has to be a “regular” person with a strange affliction. Hewlett also doesn’t look ridiculous in “scanner” mode, which is what you need when appearing in this kind of movie. Shaking, staring, that whole open mouth thing, that can all look insanely ridiculous if not done right. Hewlett never looks ridiculous. Since a third Scanners was made, why didn’t Hewlett star in that movie? Why didn’t the franchise revolve around him going forward?

The now late but always great Deborah Raffin doesn’t show up until the last third of the movie, but when she does show up she’s game. She doesn’t really get to do the full on scanner thing like Hewlett but she does get to do a few neat scenes where she stares off into space wearing weird contact lenses. They will freak you out. She also a weird chemistry with Hewlett that could have been exploited further if part three had focused on their further adventures. I’m sure it would have been good stuff.

Isabelle Mejias does a fine job as David’s girlfriend Alice. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s persistently understanding, and she’s hot, which makes her the greatest girlfriend of all time. I think you’ll dig how she’s totally okay with David’s scanning ability. And check out the scene where she throws a pot of hot soup into a bad guy’s face. That’s what you call resourcefulness.

Yvan Ponton is absolutely despicable as Commander John Forrester. You don’t like him at all the first time you see him because you just know he’s up to some bullshit, and when you find out what he’s up to you hate him even more. Yes, his ultimate goals are a little too small, in the long run, but that doesn’t make him any less heinous. It’s always nice to root against a piece of shit when you get the chance to.

Tom Butler, as Doctor Morse, is a slightly different situation. He’s a villain, his experiments on scanners, his drug development scheme, it’s all appalling, but at the same time he doesn’t seem to be all that heavily into the villain thing. He isn’t as committed, or at least he doesn’t come off as dedicated, to villainy as Forrester. Why did Butler go that route with the character? Did director Duguay want Butler to be that low key or is that what Butler wanted to do?

And then there’s Raoul Trujillo as Peter Drak, the first scanner we see in the movie. He’s just as awful as Forrester but he’s also a scanner who is totally down with being controlled by Forrester and buys in to Forrester’s scheme. That seems counterproductive to the scanner cause. But then Drak is also addicted to the F2 drug and is all about setting up his next hit. That’s all he cares about (well, he also gets a kick out of killing people, so he has that going for him, too). Check out Drak’s scene in the arcade that open the movie, where he scans a Operation Wolf game cabinet and goes batshit with the Uzi. Terrifying, hilarious, and weird as hell.

Scanners II: The New Order isn’t what I expected out of a Scanners part two. It doesn’t feel like it should even be a part two. But, since it is the part two that we have, it’s pretty good. It could have been better, sure, but it’s not bad. It’s a fun movie. I liked it.

So see Scanners II: The New Order. See it, see it, see it. It’s worth checking out, even if it doesn’t exactly live up to the promise of a potential Scanners sequel.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Around 20.

Explosions: One (I’m including the exploding head here).

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Multiple overhead shots of an unnamed big city somewhere, a brief foot chase, video arcade hooey, popcorn stealing, popcorn throwing, quarter stealing, video game playing, a weird overload experience inside of the arcade, multiple exploding arcade cabinets, window cleaning, a room full of mannequins, multiple scanner meltdowns, metal shelf breaking, mannequin destruction, tranquilizer gun hooey, fucking with a cop’s mind, flashbang grenade attack, tranq dart to the neck, a secret lab, a neck injection, animal surgery, a seriously diseased puppy, dog mind reading, flirting, kissing on an escalator, a surveillance operation, using zombie scanners to do underworld crime stuff, lawyer killing, money and cocaine stealing, security guard killing, multiple instances of body throwing, a puppy present, a convenience store robbery that turns incredibly violent for no reason, some serious head popping, a nosebleed, crime solving, fucking around with a nurse, off screen hospital room sex, press conference hooey, more tranq dart hooey, serious shotgun hooey, old people beating, firing a gun up against a phone receiver, a wicked headshot, machine gun hooey, bike cop attack with crash, puppy abuse, hot soup to the face, death by being forced to lay down on top of a bunch of needles, exploding head, guard booth guard killing, more machine gun hooey, forced double Uzi suicide, spinning, a wild scan off, serious body melt, some serious body transformation, and a major confession.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A guy controlling a video game with his mind, a radio news update, street music players that have a set up where the only way to hear the music is via headphones, Trooper the puppy, a “Sorry! No milk today!” sign, measuring psychic energy waves, a guy using a water pick, a forced suicide, Vermont, Deborah Raffin, a wicked pipe ramp car stunt, weird smoky white eyes, exploding head, and a major confession.

Best lines: “I think we found another one. Get ready,” “Shut up!,” “What are you looking at? You’re not allowed to look at me!,” “Scanners? Are you sure?,” “My name is Dr. Morse. My specialty is the study of scanners,” “What’s the matter? Squeamish?,” “Pathology? On a Friday night? David, that’s pathetic,” “Scum,” “You call that functional?,” “What we need is a clean scanner. A virgin mind,” “What kind of sicko would stick strychnine in a kid’s milk?,” “You tell me. A beautiful, beautiful scanner,” “The migraines are more than just headaches?,” “I need another shot,” “Power obliges us, David,” “God, what are you doing to me?,” “Put the gun under your tongue,” “Aren’t you going to tell me what’s the matter?,” “See what a clean scanner can do?,” “Now, David, two things to remember. First. Never question my authority. And two, never, ever scan me!,” “God, you look so much like father,” “Don’t scan me! I don’t like it,” “Have a cigarette. I don’t smoke!,” “If you want to slip into my mind, go gently,” “Get behind my eyes and look out,” “I’ve waited eight years for this,” “Let’s give the doctor a taste of his own medicine,” “This is fun. It’s like playing with a puppy,” “Excuse me, sire, apparently there’s been an emergency,” “I did it to save society!,” and “No more killing.”

Rating: 7.5/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

BlackRoseDVD

Black Rose: I reviewed this Alexander Nevsky vehicle a few months ago (check out my review here) and loved it. It had a small theatrical release, it played on Video On Demand, it was available as a rental via Redbox, it was on Netflix, and now it’s on DVD. If you’re a fan of action flicks, Black Rose is worth tracking down and checking out. Nevsky is a real star and is someone you should be aware of. His next movies are Showdown in Manila and Maximum Impact.

TheMummyTomCruise

The Mummy: I missed this Tom Cruise vehicle when it was in theatres. I had planned to see it, but for whatever reason it just never worked out (I thought the trailers were pretty good). The movie bombed at the domestic box office but apparently did okay internationally, which is a shame since Universal really wanted to use this movie as a jumping off point for its shared monster universe. I guess there’s a chance that could still happen, but it seems like the buzz on that mega franchise has subsided. Will the new The Mummy finds its audience on home video? Stranger things have happened. It’s possible.

DeadAgainInTombstone

Dead Again in Tombstone: Directed by Roel Reine and starring the great Danny Trejo, this is a sequel to Dead in Tombstone, which was also directed by Reine and starred Trejo. This is some sort of supernatural western action flick, something you don’t see all that often (you also don’t see sequels to stuff like that, either). I still need to see the first one, and with this sequel I think it’s time I make an effort to do so. Will there be a third one? Jake Busey is also in this, so it has that going for it, too. Anyone out there see the first one? Is it cool?

DroneWars

Drone Wars: This is apparently some sort of low budget alien invasion deal that focusses on the aftermath of the invasion, where humanity’s survivors have to deal with alien drones or something. The great Corin Nemec stars. This movie was apparently known as Battlefield: Drone Wars before, which makes it sound like a sequel to something. Drone Wars, as far as I can tell, is not a sequel to anything. Rentable.

TheResurrected

The Resurrected: This particular release comes to us from the fine folks at Shout! Factory/Scream Factory, and it’s the second and final movie directed by Dan O’Bannon. I read about the movie in, I think, Fangoria, but I’ve never seen it. I don’t remember ever seeing it at any of the video stores I frequented back in the day (and I spent quite a bit of time looking in the horror section of every video store I was ever in). The movie is apparently based on the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” and stars Chris Sarandon. There are tons of cool sounding special features on the release, and, heck, I’m sure the movie is worth checking out. Anyone out there see this? Anyone at all?

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B-Movie News

DayoftheDeadRemake2

There’s another Day of the Dead remake coming out: George A. Romero’s zombie masterpiece Day of the Dead is getting its second remake, something subtitled Bloodline. It was directed by Hector Hernandez Vicens and Peary Reginald Teo. Now, the first remake was made by the great Steve Miner and starred Ving Rhames, Mena Suvari, and Nick Cannon. I had sort of high hopes for that movie as Miner has shown himself to be a decent director (he did two Jason movies, a Halloween, House, Warlock, and Lake Placid and I really thought he would make an entertaining zombie movie. Unfortunately, his Day of the Dead sucked (I reviewed it but the link to that review seems to have disappeared. Perhaps I’ll re-review it one day). There was also an alleged sequel made to the Romero original called Contagium, but I never saw that (the reviews for it were pretty scathing).

Now, this new Day of the Dead sounds like it adheres to the Romero original more than the Miner movie did, and it looks like there’s a Bub type zombie character in it named Max ( Bloody Disgusting has a pic of Max). This new movie is apparently coming out at some point later this year, as it was recently picked up for distribution by Saban Films. It looks like the movie will debut on DirecTV and then get some sort of limited theatrical release followed by a Video On Demand thing. That stinks, but then how often do low budget zombie movies get a major theatrical release?

A trailer, as far as I know, hasn’t been released for this quite yet, but if it is coming out later this year, I’d imagine we’ll get a trailer at some point soon. And, yeah, I’ll end up seeing this remake at some point. I’m a horror nerd. I always end up seeing this kind of shit.

ThePurge3

The fourth The Purge will be a prequel: Via the fine folks at Dread Central, it looks like the fourth The Purge will be a prequel and explain how the whole idea of “the purge” got started. Apparently, the whole thing started on Staten Island in New York City (I bet the real people of Staten Island will love that).

As a fan of The Purge franchise, especially the last two movies starring the great Frank Grillo, I’m sort of disappointed that we’re not getting a third Grillo adventure (I know Grillo said that he didn’t want to do a third one, but I bet he would have done another one if the price was right), but I’m curious to see how this Staten Island story works out. Because, when you look at the concept of the purge, why the hell would essentially everyone buy into it? What’s so great about killing people on one night of the year? Are we going to see the New Founding Fathers creating this, or are we going to find out that they stole the idea from the real creator? I can’t wait to find out.

I also can’t wait to see who franchise creator James DeMonaco and producers Blumhouse and Universal get to star in it. According to the Dread Central article the story, subtitled The Island, will feature an “anti-hero who resembles Clint Eastwood.” It almost sounds like we’re getting a Snake Plissken homage of sorts, doesn’t it?

The Purge: The Island is set to come out next year. DeMonaco is writing and producing, while Gerard McMurray is set to direct (DeMonaco directed the first three). I can’t wait.

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Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: Scanners September continues with Scanners III: The Takeover!

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Interviews

david j. moore
Jino Kang
Vladimir Kulich
Paul Mormando
Shahin Sean Solimon
Michael Matteo Rossi
Tyrone Magnus
Hector Barron
Jeffrey Orgill
Michael Baumgarten
R. Marcos Taylor
Don “The Dragon” Wilson
Paul Kyriazi
Eric Jacobus
Juju Chan
Luke LaFontaine
Marco Siedlemann
Sam Firstenberg
Amariah Olson
Alexander Nevsky
Mathias Hues
Kristanna Loken
Steve Mitchell
Albert Pyun
Brad Thornton
Mathieu Ratthe
Damien Power
Kelsey Carlisle
Mike Dwyer
Nicholas Bushman
Brahim Achabbakhe

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Scanners II: The New Order

David Hewlett– David Kellum
Deborah Raffin– Julie Vale
Yvon Ponton– Commander John Forrester
Isabelle Mejias– Alice Leonardo
Tom Butler– Doctor Morse
Raoul Trujillo– Peter Drak
Vlasta Vrana– Lt. Gelson
Murray Westgate– George Kellum
Doris Petrie– Susan Kellum
Dorothee Berryman– Mayor
Tom Harvey– Chief Stokes

Directed by Christian Duguay
Screenplay by B.J. Nelson, based on characters created by David Cronenberg

Distributed by Image Entertainment, Media Home Entertainment, Video Treasures, and Shout! Factory

Rated R for strong violence and graphic sci-fi action
Runtime– 104 minutes

Buy it here