"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Scanner Cop

tn_scannercopSCANNER COP (1994) is a predictably lame execution of a reasonably good concept. If we in fact lived in a world where telepathic “scanners” existed then it could be useful to society to have one on the police force. In this case it’s a kid whose scanner dad goes so crazy he grows 3 tiny little human heads on his forehead. I guess John Carl Buechler, who did the effects makeup, must’ve wished he was doing a Freddy movie. By this time the EPH-3 drug of SCANNERS III has evolved into Ephemerol, which actually blocks a scanner’s telepathy, making them ordinary. It’s depicted as a good thing, because if you don’t drug away your scanner abilities you will go crazy like this guy when he ran out of pills.

I know what you’re thinking: but how did he run out of pills with Canada’s health care system? Well, this one takes place in Los Angeles. A special Los Angeles where “sorry” is pronounced different.

mp_scannercopWhen the dad dies in a police stand-off a beat cop adopts the orphaned kid, little Sam Staziak, keeps him on Ephemerol and raises him to become an LAPD cop played by Daniel Quinn.

The Scanner Cop’s big case comes when a series of weird cop-killings starts. Ordinary citizens keep flipping out when they see cops. It turns out a cult leader turned mad scientist is out to get Staziak’s adopted dad (now the chief) so he and a palm reader keep kidnapping people and brainwashing them so the sight of a police uniform triggers hallucinations of monsters or other evil things attacking. Then they end up killing the cop thinking it’s a monster. The police are so helpless they stop wearing uniforms.

The chief convinces his reluctant ward to stop taking Ephemerol for a few days and use his powers to solve the case. He can get into the minds of the killers and see what they thought was going on. And every once in a while he runs into a purse snatcher or something and makes them flip and bonk their heads.

But it’s not very interesting because 1. they basically use him like a police psychic, so we’ve seen this shit before, and secondly the villainous plot is kind of stupid, more like a bad episode of a TV show than worthy of a feature film. The one sort of cool thing they do is have him go into the psychic’s parlor and sit down for a reading but end up interrogating her without even talking.

SCANNER COP is the directorial debut of Pierre David, the producer of SCANNERS and other early Cronenberg works. I don’t think that means they’re on the same wavelength, though. They just happened to both be in Canada. Most of David’s productions are less arty. For example he produced THE PERFECT WEAPON and MISSION OF JUSTICE.

I think this could be much better if it was copying the style and content of police thrillers like DIRTY HARRY and LETHAL WEAPON, but with the cop having this ability. Standard cases would be easy to solve. Only if the perp was a scanner would this guy have any trouble. Hostage negotiations would be easy. And he could trick the angry chief into giving him back his gun and badge every time he’s suspended and taken off the case.

Being a Scanner Cop would cause new temptations and ethical questions. The tagline on the box is “Imagine a cop who can read your mind… then blow it away.” Sounds terrifying, but it’s supposed to be comforting. You’re supposed to want that, but I don’t think I do. Do you think N.W.A. still would’ve said “Fuck the Police” if all the police were scanners? I think they would’ve wanted to fuck the police even more, because they’d be even more corrupt and harassing. But I guess they wouldn’t have had to make the song though because the Sanner Police would’ve read their minds thinking it anyway. And instead of the FBI sending them that letter or the police unions refusing to do security for their concerts they would’ve just scanned them and made their heads blow up. There would be no “100 Miles and Runnin'” or “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” or “The Chronic.” That’s why I’m glad there’s no such thing as Scanner Cops in real life. Because “The Chronic” is a pretty good album, man.

But it’s true, I bet Scanner Cops would be out of control. They’d feel superior and above the law. King Kong wouldn’t have shit on them. Only SCANNER KING KONG would. That’s why the perfect sequel to this would be BAD SCANNER LIEUTENANT. Or they could do a whole series about different scanner jobs. SCANNER LAWYER, SCANNER DOCTOR, SCANNER COMMUNITY PLANNER, SCANNER ENTREPRENEUR, etc.

Or another idea would be just to stop making SCANNERS movies.



This entry was posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 1:25 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

23 Responses to “Scanner Cop”

  1. I heard somewhere that this was originally made as the pilot for a TV show. Don’t know if it’s true.

  2. Hey man, it’s possible to run out of pills up here. I live like fifteen blocks from a drug store. Sometimes that’s a schlep.

  3. Well this must be a pretty artless film with poor direction if you’re not recommending it, because the way you described it, that sounds like a film I want to see. A dude with 3 little heads popping out of his? A cult that kidnaps people and hypnotises them to see monsters when they see the boys in blue? That all sounds great. Sounds like a missed opportunity.

  4. Verbal Hooligan

    June 7th, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Bad Scanner Lieutenant:Port of Call New Orleans. We need Scanner Mega-Acting.

  5. Mr. S – You wanted that joke to stay alive. Was it worth it?

  6. Jareth Cutestory

    June 7th, 2010 at 7:06 am


  7. “He reviews the movies WITHOUT SEEING THEM!”

    Then Scanner Movie Critic would be like every other person once in a while with a “Bad” movie before release. Remember, HUDSON HAWK is a “bad” movie, one of the worst ever made. Didn’t you guys here get that memo?

    Oh wait, you guys actually saw HAWK. Nevermind.

  8. I apologize for nothing.


  10. “I think this could be much better if it was copying the style and content of police thrillers like DIRTY HARRY”
    If Harry WAS a scanner, he really WOULD know when a punk was thinking “did he fire six shots, or five?”, though MAGNUM FORCE would be a lot shorter.

  11. I think it should be PORT OF CALL TORONTO in this particular case.

  12. Dang, Vern. Sounds like you’re not enjoying your Scanner marathon. You’ve only got one more to go though, so find comfort in that. At least until Platinum Dunes makes SCANNER BAY: HE KNOWS WHAT YOU WANT TO WATCH.


  14. The Chronic really is a good album.

  15. It’s no EFIL4ZAGGIN, but yes, it remains solid after all these years.

  16. EFIL4ZAGGIN is the pinnacle of kick in the door and kill you Hip-Hop. It’s only downside is that ICP have been trying to be that awesome for coming up on 2o years now.

    I think their failure is at least in part based on their lack of understanding regarding magnets.



    He’ll blow your mind…then beat his chest!


    Hey, don’t look at me. It was Vern’s idea.

  19. I am trying to find a movie
    Its about cops that inject a serum into their bodies
    and changes them into some kind of creatures but still human one of them
    has things coming out of his hands like wolverine and they have super strength

    I would like to know the name of the movie or who may be in it
    Please e-mail me johnnight1969@yahoo.ca

  20. John, that’s FULL ECLIPSE with Mario Van Peebles and Patsy Kensit. Sort of a John Woo werewolf movie. I believe it premiered on HBO in ’91 or ’92. It’s out on DVD.

  21. Thanks for posting. Much appreciated!

  22. I kind’a thought that both of the ‘scanner cop’ movies would be an monster sci-fi movies like Dick Smith’s special makeup effects “ALTERED STATES.” But I enjoyed them a lot and the first three ‘scanners’ movies. I hope that someone who will be as good as other directors will make a million more new “SCANNERS” sequels and a million more new “SCANNER COP” sequels.

  23. I also think they should come up a little new crazy concepts and storylines about making many more new ‘scanners’ movie sequels. Have them way where the scanner killers gets some evil powers that can mutate and transform their bodies into different shapes, other human shapes or transform into scanner beasts. And they should do an hundred more weird head and body special makeup effects and do most of the scanners bodies transformation special makeup effects for this kind of plot.

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