SCANNER COP (1994) Reviews and overview

 

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Scanner Cop is a 1994 Canadian-German science fiction thriller about Sam Staziak, an LA rookie cop who is also a ‘scanner’ (psionic). When a string of murders begins to decimate the police department, Sam faces sensory overload and possible insanity as he uses his powers to hunt the man responsible for the killings.

Directed by Pierre David (Serial Killer; executive producer of the Scanners franchise; producer of Wishmaster; The Dentist and its sequel) from a screenplay co-written by John Bryant (Martial Outlaw; American Ninja 5; Mission of Justice) and George Saunders (Malicious) based on a story by Pierre David and characters created by David Cronenberg.

The movie stars Daniel Quinn (Cabaret of the Dead; Psychophonia; Rubber; Spiders II: Breeding Ground), Darlanne Fluegel (Darkman III; Slaughter of the Innocents; Pet Sematary II; Eyes of Laura Mars), Richard Grove (Aliens vs. A-holes; Army of Darkness), Mark Rolston (Saw V and VI; Asylum; Robocop 2; Aliens), Richard Lynch (Laid to Rest; Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge; Vampire 1979) and Hilary Shepard (The Order; 666: Teen Warlock; Lucky Stiff; Friday the 13th: The Series).

A sequel that also stars Daniel Quinn, Scanner Cop II, followed.

Reviews:

“The whole plot is just fine and dandy, but this film feels like one of those syndicated TV action shows like VIP or Silk Stalkings. Better action has been witnessed on T.J. Hooker. It seems all the budget was spent on the special effects by John Carl Buechler, which are fine except for a hilarious finale involving a defibrillator.” Charles T. Tatum

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“In spite of its stock elements including Lynch as a mad doctor, the film’s drama and characters are actually engaging […] with Quinn carrying the film emotionally and physically with scanning session that actually looks painful. Shepard is a fun evil sidekick and John Carl Buechler’s company provides some hallucinatory creatures in addition to two satisfyingly gory head explosions.’ DVD Drive-In

Scanner Cop isn’t a mess…it’s just under-cooked. The acting is too pedestrian, the special effects are cheap without being fun or imaginative (and not enough exploding heads, for sure), the plot developments are predictable, the villains are nasty but not menacing enough, and the levels of violence waffle between being gory and strangely reserved.” Film Guinea Pig

“This movie is utterly generic, save for the scanning elements. The acting is pretty dry across the board, save for Lynch. As always, the burn-scarred character actor has fun with his under-written, but dramatic role […] The movie is extremely dated as well, but that has a sort of charm. How can you not dig bad 90s prosthetic effects…” Mondo Bizarro

” …it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Scanner Cop delivers the goods as well with tons of inventive makeup appliances and some interesting  plot turns involving its sympathetic scanner hero. The heavy emphasis on the Los Angeles setting also gives it a distinctive vibe accentuated by the fact that this was made with Canadian and German financing…” Mondo Digital

“On a purely technical level, Scanner Cop is a competently made B movie. On the other hand, in all creative ways, it is utterly pedestrian. It is a hack plot that never bothers to think about how brainwashing or even police departments work in the real world.” Moria

Scanner Cop is a great film, very well made, and it’s pretty disturbing in places too (moreso on the first viewing though). And it has fantastic practical effects, just like the original Scanners! The acting is good enough throughout. Daniel Quinn is good as Sam and Richard Lynch plays a great-and creepy-villain as usual. The story is very intriguing and the movie as a whole is very watchable.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

“Pierre David shoots it well, so it looks good. There isn’t a lot of blood and gore, but what is here is done really well. The acting from all involved deliver the goods, but I just wish Brion James had a much bigger part than his little cameo. Ultimately, you won’t be disappointed with this one.” Robot Geek’s Cult Cinema

Scanner Cop may not be deep, but it is fun. It’s actually got some pretty interesting ideas at play, taking the concepts from Cronenberg’s far more cerebral original and applying to the ‘what if he was a cop?’ scenario pretty effectively. There’s some solid effects work here – lots of veins bulge and heads shift around…” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“It’s well worth any genre fan’s time, especially if you enjoyed the previous Scanners films. I’d be remiss not to mention that it does get rather slow at times, but in a film with this much low-budget greatness throughout, I can’t really count that as much of a knock against the film overall. Highly recommended.” Silver Emulsion Film Reviews

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“While this never soars to the apex of absurdity reached by Scanners III and, of course, still doesn’t hold a freakin’ candle to the original, David’s directorial effort is still reasonably entertaining.” Video Junkie

Scanner Cop is a total blast from start to finish. Things get off to a bit of a cheesy start with a Scanner having three mini-faces bulging out of his forehead. And no, that’s not a bad thing […] From then on, the flick becomes a totally absorbing police procedural that is spiced-up by the occasional Scan-Off.” The Video Vacuum

“The problem is that it’s just too repetitive and the evil plan is so small scale that I struggled to maintain interest. The Hell sequence is the standout bit of lunacy in the film, but this suffers from being tonally jarring and quite shoddy. I can’t say I recommend this, as I don’t, but it certainly isn’t an awful effort by any stretch of the imagination.” Werewolves on the Moon

Main cast and characters:

Daniel Quinn … Samuel Staziak
Darlanne Fluegel … Doctor Joan Alden
Richard Grove … Commander Peter Harrigan
Mark Rolston … Lieutenant Harry Brown
Richard Lynch … Karl Glock
Hilary Shepard … Zena
James Horan … Melvin
Gary Hudson … Damon Pratt
Cyndi Pass … Sarah Kopek
Luca Bercovici … Doctor Krench
Christopher Kriesa … Riley
Savannah Smith Boucher … Margaret Harrigan
Ben Reed … Rick Kopek
Brion James … Doctor Hampton – The Horror Show
Elan Rothschild … Young Samuel
W. Duane Tucker … Kim
Fred Mata … Grocer
Dennis Redfield … Officer West
James Staszkiel … Bob (as James Staskel)
Steph DuVall … Jerry
Thomas Ritz … Officer Fitch
Craig Hamann … Officer Gorman
Starr Andreeff … Glenda – Amityville Dollhouse; Syngenor; Dance of the Damned; The Terror Within
Wayne Grace … Officer Dooley
Howard S. Miller … Marvin Jones
Kurt Anderson … Officer Ross
Darren Dalton … Officer Longo
Patrick Gorman … Pathologist
Brenda Leigh … Field Reporter Brenda Carothers

Filming locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical details:

95 minutes
Audio: Ultra Stereo
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Trailer:

Scanners timeline: