Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on the Vinegar Syndrome release of Scanner Cop.
Like most fans of cinema, I enjoy the works of David Cronenberg overall. At the same time, he is not my favorite director, and when a film of his doesn’t work, I struggle to find any part of it that will resonate with me. So, I’m going throw this hot take out there: Scanners isn’t that great of a movie. Beyond the infamous “head explosion” scene, I do not find that most of the film works for me. I know this is a hot take, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I felt you should know where I stand before we dive into Scanner Cop.
As someone not immersed within the Scanner-verse, I may not be the best judge on what a good Scanners film is. Thankfully, I’m here to go over the bonus features of Vinegar Syndrome‘s release—I’ll leave the film review to those who are much more well-versed than myself. I will say that Scanner Cop is an entertaining police procedural with a sci-fi twist. Including character actors such as Richard Lynch, Mark Rolston, and a very underutilized Brion James fill out the cast works to the film’s benefit. As someone who doesn’t enjoy the original Scanners, I came away not hating Scanner Cop and I consider that a win in my book.
Jumping into the physical media release from Vinegar Syndrome, Scanner Cop comes packaged in a hard-case box with its sequel: Scanner Cop 2. Each film comes housed with individual slipcases of film-specific art. The disc cases come with reversible art for each film, one consisting of newly-commissioned art as seen on the outer box and the original promotional artwork.
When it comes to the bonus features for Scanner Cop, I am of two minds: either the features satisfy what you want for Scanner Cop, or the features look to be more substantial than they are. Having spent some time with this release, I lean more towards the bonus features satisfying those who enjoy Scanner Cop.
Diving into the disc, the first and best feature on Scanner Cop is the making-of documentary: “Outside the Law: The Scanner Cop Revolution – Part One.” While running less than 30 minutes, Vinegar Syndrome does the lord’s work by assembling a large swath of the creative talent behind Scanner Cop to dish on the movie’s production. Everyone from Scanner Cop’s writer/producer/director, Pierre David, to actors Hilary Shepard and Mark Roston and the film’s makeup crew, the amount of personnel brought aboard for this documentary is immense.
Vinegar Syndrome does a solid job keeping the documentary tight and on focus. What “Outside the Law: The Scanner Cop Revolution—Part One” lacks in runtime; it makes up for in-depth. Hearing from the cast and crew, the production of Scanner Cop, everyone understood the type of film they were making; yet wanted to make the best they could. For a straight-to-video film such as Scanner Cop, a documentary over 20 minutes is more than anyone could want.
The other feature associated with the Scanner Cop disc comes via a feature-length commentary from the We Hate Movies Podcast. When I mentioned that I wasn’t sure how I felt about the disc’s supplemental material, this commentary track was the driving force behind those feelings.
I am someone who loves a commentary track. Ever since the advent of DVDs (yes, I know commentaries were commonplace on Laserdisc, but I didn’t have one), commentary tracks are one of the best bonus features on a physical media release. Popping in a disc and listening to someone associated with the film, a scholar, or just a fan of the release, is one of the main reasons I still champion physical media.
Now, with that in mind, having a track that leans heavily on humor is not a bad thing. There is still insight to be had. Sometimes you need a palette cleanser after popping in a film-school-in-a-box-style commentary. I’m not sure why Vinegar Syndrome chose to include the We Hate Movies team to record a comedic track for Scanner Cop. I know We Hate Movies, and I enjoy their podcast, but I got the Scanner Cop set because I like the movies. If you’re going to give love to these films, why choose this type of track? Maybe it rubbed me the wrong way? If you’re going to include one commentary track for a movie, I’d assume that it’s for the fans who want to gain more insight? Like I said, maybe it rubbed me the wrong way.
Wrapping up the features for Scanner Cop 2 is a diamond-in-the-rough, for me at least. Sourced from a VHS, Vinegar Syndrome included the original promotional video sent out to retailers for Scanner Cop. Along with offering clips from the film, this short feature features tips and tricks for retailers to help move the tapes through their retail chains—not a substantial bonus feature by any means, but it was a pleasant surprise and an excellent way to close out the disc.
There you have it! Vinegar Syndrome does what they do best by giving films once forgotten about another chance to stand tall amongst mainstream movies. I may have sounded negative about this release due to my feelings about the commentary, but don’t let that overshadow the fact that this is the definitive edition of Scanner Cop. The film has never looked as it does; add onto that a hearty making-of documentary that cements this release as a must-buy for fans of Scanner Cop.