1981 director David Cronenberg gave us the story of people with special psychic abilities, called Scanners, that can control and/or destroy people's minds. Darryl Revok (the great Michael Ironside) is the most powerful Scanner on the planet and leader of an underground movement bent on world domination, but Dr Ruth has found a Scanner that Revok has not and recruits him to take down the movement.
Cronenberg was already making himself the king of body horror with the parasitic and medical nightmares of They Came From Within and Rabid. He upped the ante with Scanners and gave the world one of the most iconic head explosions in the history of horror.
trailer for Scanners
Scanners became a cult hit and spawned a franchise that never lived up to the original, but was entertaining two out of four times. There were two direct sequels and then the franchise rebooted with the better than you'd think Scanner Cop.
Scanners 2 The New Order was more action packed, but a bit less of an artistic triumph. Cronenberg had nothing to do with any of the sequels, but the groundwork had been laid.
In New Order, a crooked politician uses an escaped Scanner to help him gain control of a major city.
Scanners 2 New Order
Scanners 3 The Takeover is not considered a good movie by anyone that I know of. I fell asleep the first time I watched and and wished I had the second time. Moving on.
Scanners 3 Takeover
Scanner Cop was a marked improvement over Takeover with Richard Lynch playing a villain worthy of Ironside's Revok. Daniel Quinn plays a cop who's secretly a scanner. When a cop killer shows up on the scene, Quinn puts his abilities to good use.
For the second Scanner Cop, Daniel Quinn returns in the title role to take on another Scanner who is draining the powers of other Scanners. I'll be honest, if I saw this one I don't remember it. I do however remember the Scanner Cop director and series producer Pierre David saying there would be a sequel in Fangoria. As far as I can tell by looking up reviews this a pretty forgettable film and a piss poor way to end the franchise.
Scanner Cop 2
I can't think of a single of a single horror/sci fi franchise that stayed good and/or got better, so it's no surprise that Scanners suffers from the law of diminishing returns.
When I saw the original Scanners I was blown away and as a young kid obsessed the Uncanny X-Men, I saw a connection right away. Scanners became one of those gold standard films that I was always trying to live up to with my own stories (like pretty much all of Cronenberg's films).
Keep watching the sky, nerds!