Saturday, October 29, 2016

Scanners (1981)

I found out that the Criterion Collection. is leaving +Hulu.

It's also almost Halloween.

That means time to watch some appropriate holiday movies.

One of my favorites, one I saw in the theaters as a preteen at 10, was Scanners.

Scanners offer a lot to both Game Masters and Players.

For Game Masters

1. Plot Twists: Some of these are cliche, but they are cliche for a reason. That reason? Sometimes they work. For example, imagine having a mentor for your character that turns out is his father? Imagine an arch enemy that is your brother! What a shocker!

2. Organizations: The bit in the movie that quickly gets overlooked, is that the "Scanner" program was designed as a weapon program and during it's initial viewing many high-end buyers, six individuals killed, one quite spectacularly.

In almost any modern day setting, that would cause quite a stir. In the modern Marvel Universe setting, or any role playing super hero game using the modern setting, there would be a quick search into the matter.

How did this happen? What's the origin point? Are there more of them?

For Players

1. Character Outlook: When first found, the protagonist is living in the street. Unable to fend for himself. His powers are too strong and they cannot be shut off. Typical telepathic problem. But there are other "Scanners" and one of them, after trying to kill his family, has been "rehabilitated by art".

The art this scanner creates is dark and disturbing, often dealing with multiple entities around the skull or with thoughts exploding out of the brain.

What is the mind status of a non-normal character? If you're in a Dungeons and Dragons setting and are a psion, how do you perceive the world about you? Even if you're a lowly fighter, is it more of a Jason Bourne thing where as soon as you enter the room you've objectified everything into ways on escape or ways to kill?

2. Limitations: When first introduced, the protagonist HAS to have a drug to suppress his powers. This leaves him vulnerable. In some game systems like Champions and GURPS, you would buy advantages and disadvantages to represent this about your character. In other games, it becomes a GM ruling. What about limitations makes characters more interesting? It makes them vulnerable.

Even Superman has weaknesses after all.

Scanners isn't high art but as one oDavid Cronenberg's early films, 1981, it is worth watching.

3. Unlikley Powers: There's a scene in the movie where the hero of the movie connects his brain to the
"nervous system" of a computer. Well before hacking was a thing. But how would ESP or
telepathy in the normal sense of the word allow that to work? The Game Master or Player could
easily rationalize it that the powers Scanners have isn't based on telepathy. It's based on control
of reality and that their true limitations are that they only do what they do, because that is the
traditional use of their powers. Only when pushed or when something out of the range becomes
needed, do those powers actually come to a head. The old marvel character, Phoenix, after all,
could control reality with her powers.

For others looking at the Criterion Collection leaving, what movies do you recommend? I've
got the Samurai films on lockdown but am fortunate enough to own most in DVD/Blu-Ray format.