When you think of movies where a man’s head explodes, odds are the first film that comes to mind is David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror/sci-fi classic Scanners. Two years back, Dimension Films, The Weinstein Company, and High Tension director Alexandre Aja got together in order to turn the psychotronic thriller into a TV series. And that was the last we heard of it, until now.
Aja is all over San Diego Comic-Con pumping up his new film, the Daniel Radcliffe-starring Horns. Based on Joe Hill’s novel about a guy who grows, you guessed it, horns, the film debuted its first awesome trailer. While is seems like everyone else forgot about the Scanners series, lucky for us, Shock Til You Drop has a long memory and was there to pick up the ball, and asked Aja about the project.
I think Cronenberg created a great world that is squeezed into two hours that don’t work. It’s an amazing concept for a TV show with this political contractor, a new kind of spy thing is perfect for television…It took some time but we found the right concept, the right approach for a show.
That sounds to me like one hell of a diss on Cronenberg and Scanners. I wouldn’t do that, I’ve seen Nightbreed, that dude haunts my dreams, he’s terrifying. Aja is French, so perhaps the bluntness is a matter of translation. Then again, maybe he just doesn’t particularly like the movie he’s going to remake.
Whatever his stance on Scanners (I just revisited the film on the new Criterion Blu-ray, and it’s as awesome as ever), it sounds like there has quietly been forward movement on the series. After years of remake talk that involved the likes of David Goyer and Darren Lynn Bousman rehashing this in film form, it appears that they’ve settled on an approach for the series. Aja even goes on to say that they’ve found a home for the show, but isn’t able to share that information with the general public. Hopefully this has landed on a cable network, ideally something like HBO, Showtime, or even Starz—none of those outlets are afraid to show a little gore when necessary. But I could even see the like of FX being a decent landing spot for a Scanners series, with shows like Justified, The Americans, and Fargo, they’re not shy when it comes to violence.
As much as I love Scanners there is a lot of unexplored room in Cronenberg’s world. The story focuses on factions of telepaths called Scanners (duh), who can read minds, control other people, and even link up with computers when the situation calls for it. A powerful Scanner, Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is tasked with tracking down and stopping Daryl Revok (Michael Ironside), a rogue force building his own underground army.
Just the idea of various blocs of Scanners, the sprawling underground, and the conflicts between the groups, is enough to build a series on, but there’s even more in the source material. A dubious corporation called ComSec figures prominently in Scanner research, and they’re essentially trying to weaponize their abilities and build a better spy. After all, who better to send after hidden information than someone who can read minds? That’s another avenue that is ripe for exploration, and the idea of privatized military forces and unchecked corporate autonomy are thematically as pressing now as they’ve ever been.
Remakes are always a dicey proposition—we’re still skeptical of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys reboot—but there is a great deal of potential in the source material, and if you’re going to remake anything, you might as well remake something awesome.