I first came into contact with this film when I was in my teens. My father had a new home VCR and rented pretty horrendous, violent films from the video rental store. These included Straw Dogs and Scanners.
Scanners introduced me to David Cronenberg and I believe it is one of his best. There are some great memorable moments in the film. The film starts in a great way. Patrick McGoohan plays a great part and was one of my favourite actors at the time because I was watching re-runs of The Prisoner. It is the ideas and the concept of the film that gets me though. Such a great imagination and a great visual treat.
If you don't know the plot, the film follows the path of a young man who is a social outcast on account of his ability to read minds of other people. This ability, as it turns out, is not unique. He is what is referred to as a Scanner and there are more of them. However, the world is a mixed up place and there is a rogue scanner who thinks that scanners are superior to non-scanners. The social outcast is found by a doctor, played by McGoohan. It turns out that he has incredible scanning power but that he was unaware of it. He is given a drug called Ephemerol by the doctor and it dulls his scanning ability to allow him to control it gradually. The doctor wants to recruit the outcast and help him defeat the rogue scanner.
The end of the film is a great confrontation between good and evil. In the spirit of the best Cronenberg films, the ending is ambiguous as to whether it is good or bad but it is a surprise. I was very unsettled by this film when I first saw it. Even today I find it chilling, A great film.