David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror Scanners is being turned into a TV series for HBO. The remake of the Canadian cult-classic will have Emmy winner William Bridges (Black Mirror: USS Callister) as writer and showrunner. Yann Demange (Lovecraft Country) will direct the pilot.


The original story revealed that there are a small group of people with a range of psychic and telekinetic powers. These people are the “scanners” of the title. Some are led by Revok (Michael Ironside) who wants to use the abilities to gain power. Meanwhile another company is recruiting scanners of their own to use against him.

The series has been talked about for many years and the blurb surrounding the project states it is:

“…a visceral thriller set in the world of Cronenberg’s film and will focus on two women living on the fringes of modern society. The pair are pursued by relentless agents with unimaginable powers and thus must learn to work together to topple a vast conspiracy determined to bring them to heel.”

The original film was the first big success for Cronenberg and became one of the first Canadian movies to successfully compete at the US box-office. Canadian film productions of the 1970s and the early 1980s were funded through a 100-percent Capital Cost Allowance tax shield for investors passed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1974.

To get hold of these subsidies the movie was rushed into production without a finished script or constructed sets.


The iconic head explosion scene took several attempts to get right. A plaster skull and a gelatin exterior was packed with latex scraps and some wax, along with anything the FX team thought would fly through the air and give a “stringy effect” such as leftover burgers.

The use of explosives failed to give the desired effect, so special effects supervisor Gary Zeller told the crew to roll cameras and get inside the trucks with doors and windows closed.

He then lay down behind the dummy on the floor and shot it in the back of the head with a shotgun.


Cronenberg, Michael Ellenberg, Lindsey Springer, Meredith Duff, Sarah Sullivan, René and Fanny-Laure Malo, Pierre David, Clark Peterson and Aaron Gilbert will all executive produce Scanners.

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