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SCANNERS. David Cronenberg, director, script. Canada: Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC), Filmplan International, Montreal Trust Company of Canada (production)[1] / New World-Mutual (Canadian distribution), AVOCO Embassy Pictures (US), 1981; see IMDb-pro for further filmographic details.[2] Wikipedia entry as of June 2022, here.[3]

Horror film discussed by Dominick Grace in "From Videodrome to Virtual Light: David Cronenberg and William Gibson," in which she notes that it "includes content more clearly [...] relevant to Gibson and cyberpunk" than even VIDEODROME (p. 345).

Scanners deals with a conflict between rival groups of telepaths (or scanners), and late in the film, access to information stored in a computer becomes essential for the success of the "good" scanners; at this point the proto-cyberpunk elements of the film become most clear. Dr. Paul Ruth, creator of the scanners, tells the protagonist, scanner Cameron Vale, that he must access the information; when Vale objects that he does not have the access code, Ruth asserts, "But you do have a central nervous system, and so does a computer. And you can scan a computer as you would another human being." When Vale does so later, we have an early, primitive example of the computer cowboy hacking neuronically into a system to steal vital information. [* * *]

Vale accesses the computer via a telephone booth, linking his mind directly with the computer. As the accesses the computer's program, shots of his face [....] are intercut with shots of the computer circuitry, suggesting visually the merging of man and machine. (Grace p. 346)

The computer's human minders spot the hack, although they don't realize how literally Vale "is 'in' the system." They seek to harm him by destroying the machine, which Grace sees as a foreshadowing of cyberpunk "black ICE" in Gibson's work.[4] Consistent with the logic of Scanners' power over human nervous systems, "[...] Vale reverses the attack [...] and destroys the computers" (Grace p. 346).

RDE, finishing, 22Jun22